Expertise and Selected Programs


As a university affiliated research center (UARC), Johns Hopkins APL maintains robust engineering and research and development expertise in eight core competencies to meet the needs of our government sponsors.

APL’s core competencies are:

  • Strategic systems testing and evaluation
  • Submarine security and survivability
  • Space science and engineering
  • Combat systems and guided missiles
  • Theater air defense and power projection
  • Information technology (C4ISR/IO)
  • Simulation, modeling, and operations analysis
  • Mission-related research and development

The Laboratory develops future technologies and capabilities that serve national priorities and expand the frontiers of science. We provide U.S. government agencies with specialized technical expertise to support national priorities and technology development programs. And we serve as independent trusted technical agents, providing continuity for highly complex, multigenerational government-funded technology systems.

Selected Programs

Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFC-CA)

Based on our long-term role as technical direction agent for three primary system components—Aegis, Cooperative Engagement Capability, and Standard Missile-6—we created the capability for Aegis-based missiles to engage over-the-horizon threats.

Cybersecurity Systems Engineering

We serve as a trusted agent to the intelligence community, providing systems engineering, architecture, and integration to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses. We also develop novel approaches for forensic examination of cyberattacks to bolster security.

Fleet Ballistic Missile Force Readiness

APL measures the system performance of our nation’s submarine-launched ballistic missile forces through the design and implementation of rigorous testing and evaluation exercises, which ensure the accuracy and reliability of these critical national defense systems.

Senior Leader Communications

We play a key role in ensuring the nation’s senior leaders can communicate securely wherever they are in the world. We develop technologies in partnership with industry to deliver new secure capabilities and ensure the reliability and security of existing secure communication architectures.


We develop and assess new capabilities for predicting the performance of complex hypersonic vehicle shapes, investigate low-cost infrared and radio frequency sensors, and develop high-fidelity models to study guidance, navigation, and control strategies. These technologies serve as cornerstones for emerging classes of hypersonic precision strike capabilities.

National Security Analysis

We combine technical expertise with deep domain and operational knowledge to analyze problems and develop solutions to the most complex national security, space, and health challenges. Our analyses inform senior decision makers across the government on complex current and future operations.

Revolutionizing Prosthetics

We lead a flagship Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded effort to develop an advanced prosthetic arm, applying our biomechanical, manufacturing, and signal processing expertise to create a thought-controlled artificial limb that duplicates the movements of the human arm and hand. The team includes scientists and engineers from thirty organizations.

Space Science and Engineering

We have built 69 spacecraft and more than 170 sensors and payloads that have explored every planet in our solar system, including New Horizons, which provided the historic first close look at Pluto in July 2015. Parker Solar Probe, planned for launch in 2018, will be the first spacecraft to fly through the sun’s atmosphere.