The Latest: Trump backs Obama-era defense technology unit

In this April 14, 2017 photo provided by Saildrone, a Saildrone vehicle maneuvers during a data collection mission in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. The autonomous sailing vessel, which would provide surveillance and reconnaissance for tThe Associated Press
In this April 14, 2017 photo provided by Saildrone, a Saildrone vehicle maneuvers during a data collection mission in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. The autonomous sailing vessel, which would provide surveillance and reconnaissance for the U.S. Navy without the need for manned crews or human pilots, was designed with the help of funding from the U.S. Defense Department's Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, which works with contractors to fund and develop solutions for the military's toughest technology challenges. (Saildrone via AP)

The Latest on a Department of Defense effort enlisting startup companies to develop solutions for the military's toughest technology challenges (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump's administration is endorsing a Barack Obama-era effort enlisting startup companies to develop solutions for the military's toughest technology challenges.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Thursday he expects the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental will not only survive but "grow in its influence and its impact" under the Republican administration.

Mattis made the comments while visiting the program's outpost in Mountain View, California, the hometown of Google.

The visit was Mattis' first to the initiative known as DIUx, which also has offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Austin, Texas, and the Pentagon.

The two-year old program continues to face questions from skeptical lawmakers.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman and Texas Republican Mac Thornberry says the jury is still out on whether it's the best way to address the military's technology needs.

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2 p.m.

An Obama-era effort enlisting startup companies to develop solutions for the military's toughest technology challenges is bankrolling experimental drones, new cybersecurity technology and advanced communications systems.

But two years on, the Department of Defense's "Defense Innovation Unit Experimental" continues to face questions from skeptical lawmakers.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican, says the jury is still out on whether the office known by the acronym DIUx is the best way to address the military's technology needs.

Col. Michael McGinley heads DIUx's Cambridge, Massachusetts, office. He says the $100 million in government contracts it has awarded to 45 pilot projects is proof DIUx is working.

Defense Secretary James Mattis makes his first official visit to DIUx Thursday. He is stopping by its outpost in Mountain View, California.