(USAF Staff Sgt. J. Wright/ManTech)

Space Thruster Tiles, Self-Healing Squid-like Stuff, and Pig Hearts: DoD Event Exhibits Pentagon’s Unconventional Tech

The Pentagon recently showcased a host of its most unique new technologies, along with several unconventional innovations, during an event hosted by the Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program (DOD ManTech).

The meet-and-greet event, held on June 21 at the Pentagon, presented a series of different advanced manufacturing technologies produced by its nine Manufacturing Innovation Institutes and the Service ManTech Programs, which produce critical technologies for the U.S. Air Force, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Missile Defense Agency, and the U.S. Navy.

More than 85 new technologies were demonstrated at the ManTech event, which the Pentagon deems “critical to national defense,” according to a DoD statement.

“As global challenges become more complex and threats more sophisticated, non-linear and novel technologies play a key role in the Department’s ability to deter and prevail against aggressive actions,” the DoD statement read.

Several of the technologies showcased at the Pentagon event offer innovative new materials and designs with applications in aerospace, which included a uniquely manufactured Space Thruster Tile composed of a combination of ceramics, metal, and glass, as well as a variety of rocket nozzle made from a new kind of copper alloy possessing unique geometries.

Heidi Shyu, Defense Undersecretary for Research and Engineering, participates in a technology demonstration during the Manufacturing Technology Program event on June 21, 2023 (Credit: Air Force Staff Sgt. John Wright/ManTech).

Also presented at the event was a new flexible hybrid electronic “skin” for use in aircraft components called the Aircraft System Components Using Flexible Hybrid Electronics for Expanded Multi-mission Operation, which is packed with solar power cells, 4G communication antennas, flexible radar components, and other technologies.

Among the more unusual technologies displayed at the event included samples of a new self-healing material called Squitex Fabric, which draws inspiration from nature by mimicking protein structures that occur naturally in the tentacles of squids.

Also showcased at the DoD event was a porcine decellularized heart, produced through the physical or chemical removal of cells from a pig’s heart, as well as the removal of antigenic cellular elements, allowing for decellularization of the heart tissue that can be used to house human heart cells by providing a sort of biological “scaffolding.”

Such technologies are at the very core of DOD ManTech’s efforts, working to facilitate the production of components and systems that the military relies on in various areas.

Tracy Frost, Director of DOD ManTech Director, said that the kinds of innovations displayed at the event are the result of the investment in and development of manufacturing processes “that enable affordable production and repair of defense systems and equipment for the Joint Force.”

The unique technologies showcased at the June 21 event, many of them unconventional compared with past innovations, could play a vital role in overcoming future challenges.

“We cannot prevail in tomorrow’s conflicts with today’s technology,” Frost said.

Micah Hanks is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of The Debrief. He can be reached by email at Follow his work at and on Twitter: @MicahHanks