AFA: Air, Space & Cyber Conference – 2023

AFA: Air, Space & Cyber Conference – 2023

Start Date: Sep 11, 2023

End Date: Sep 13, 2023

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DEFEATING MULTIPOLAR THREATS: A Strategic Imperative for Airmen & Guardians

The Air & Space Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference provides first-class professional military development, facilitates sharing of emerging requirements and technologies, and helps fuel connections that advance the cause of air and space power.


The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace forces. With a workforce of 11,000+ across nine technology areas and 40 other operations worldwide, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development.

Within AFRL, scientists and engineers collaborate to execute crosscutting research and development. External collaboration, including partnerships with industry, academia and other agencies, is also an integral part of AFRL’s business model. Through this integrated, cooperative approach, AFRL seamlessly supports the science and technology (S&T) needs of two services: the Air Force and the Space Force. Today’s global threats require multi-disciplinary solutions, and AFRL is committed to supporting the warfighter in every key domain.



The theme for this year’s AFRL booth is Functional Capability Areas, or FCAs. AFRL is making informed science and technology investments driven both by the Operational Imperatives and demand signals from the warfighter. AFRL ensures alignment of these investments through careful planning processes and by organizing our portfolios by FCAs which aim to address the unique requirements of future capabilities. The booth at the show will represent the following FCAs: Platforms, Weapons, Readiness, Resilient Basing, and Command, Control and Communications.



The Platforms FCA focuses on augmenting high-end platforms with numerous agile, inexpensive, low-end “attritable” air and space systems. Collaborative autonomy and swarming enables autonomous air and space systems interoperability with crewed teams. The development of these systems will employ modular manufacturing of systems and components and agile digital and additive manufacturing. The technologies representing this in the booth are Skyborg and the Autonomous Aircraft Experiment, or AAx.

SKYBORG: Skyborg is an autonomous aircraft teaming architecture that will enable the Air Force to posture, produce and sustain mission sorties at sufficient tempo to produce and sustain combat mass in contested environments. LEARN MORE

Autonomous Aircraft Experiment: The Air Force Research Laboratory Integrated Capabilities Directorate is testing autonomous flight concepts using the XQ-58 Valkyrie uncrewed aerial vehicle and the X-62A, a modified F-16D fighter trainer. LEARN MORE




The Weapons FCA focuses on using the combination of weapons and effects, including non-kinetic effectors such as cyber and electronic attack, with greater speed, maneuverability, and reach. Priorities include improving the ability to engage time-critical, heavily defended, and high-value targets; low-cost, networked missiles and smart munitions; cyberwarfare; microwave and laser-directed energy weapons; and hypersonic flight. The challenges of hypersonic flight include refining scramjet propulsion, high-temperature materials, controls, and experimentation. The technologies representing this FCA in the booth are Golden Horde and Missile Utility Transformation via Articulated Nose Technology, or MUTANT.

GOLDEN HORDE: Golden Horde, a DAF Vanguard Program, is aligned with the Program Executive Officer for Weapons. Its original objective was to demonstrate Networked Collaborative and Autonomous (NCA) weapons by creating an integrated weapon system of systems where weapons autonomously work together to increase survivability and lethality. Building on the success of the flight demonstration campaign, Golden Horde is pivoting from inventory weapon demonstrations to developing and delivering a multi-tier digital weapon ecosystem. This digital ecosystem offers a live, virtual, constructive testing and demonstration capability known as the Golden Horde Colosseum. LEARN MORE

MUTANT: A missile fitted with MUTANT will have the ability to change the angle of its nose to allow better track down moving targets. LEARN MORE




The Readiness FCA focuses on readiness to mobilize, deploy, and fight. It involves hardening the Joint Force’s mobilization and support chain against cyber and non-cyber threats and protecting information systems against cyberattacks and reducing vulnerability. The technology representing this FCA in the booth is Modeling, Simulation and Analysis.

MODELING, SIMULATION AND ANALYSIS: AFRL’s Modeling, Simulation and Analysis capabilities improve the speed of technology development by providing data-driven analysis which enables evidence-based decision making. MS&A explores multi-domain capabilities and provides rapid assessment of advanced technologies and concepts through digital engineering, campaign and mission modeling, wargaming, and operational analysis.




The Resilient Basing FCA focuses on enablers of Agile Combat Employment (using the hub and spoke system of alternative basing) such as pre-positioned essential supplies, improved expeditionary communications, active and passive defenses of distributed operating bases. The Department of the Air Force also seeks to enable and mobilize a network of dispersed operating locations across domains that are resilient to attack and enable logistics support from multiple locations through contested operations. Other priorities include exploring innovative long-term support in ways that goes deeper than logistical efficiency or kinetic defense and improving concealment, deception, and defensive capabilities that complicate an adversary’s plan to target bases. The technologies representing this FCA include Biocement, Assured Base Operations, Tactical High Power Operational Responder, or THOR, Base Defense Programs and Experimentation, Future Force Energy and Power, Advanced Agile Combat Employment Equipment, and Air Force Civil Engineering Cyber Resiliency.

BIOCEMENT: Bio-Cement Plant will use bio-manufacturing to build runways, including ramp space or any hardened surfaces. The plant is a way to get into various locations to rapidly create landing zones for aircraft where none exist. LEARN MORE

THOR: Winner of “The What’s New in Defense 2021 award,” THOR is a counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon the Air Force Research Laboratory developed for defense of airbases. The system provides non-kinetic defeat of multiple targets. It operates from a wall plug and uses energy to disable drones. THOR, a first of its kind system, stows completely in a 20 foot transport container, which can easily be transported in a C-130. The system can be set up within three hours and has a user interface that has been designed to require minimal user training. The overall cost to develop the technology was approximately $18 million dollars. LEARN MORE




The Command, Control and Communications FCA focuses on timely and effective distributed, multi-domain battle management command and control (BMC2). It demands the ability to anticipate multi-domain effects across kill webs, anticipating/organizing required elements/nodes to deliver desired effects, and secure kill chain data and communication links for joint/coalition, resilient/self-healing. The technologies representing this FCA is Navigation Technology Satellite-3, or NTS-3, EDGE Connect, Global Lightning, and more.

NTS-3: The NTS-3 satellite, developed by L3Harris Technologies, will operate for one year in a near-geosynchronous orbit, and it will be the center point for multiple experiments across multiple technical areas. The satellite will broadcast navigation signals from its phased array antenna, which can electronically steer signals to a desired region without physically moving the satellite. These signals are created through a digital, on-orbit reprogrammable Position Navigation and Timing signal generator, which supports legacy signals, advanced signals not currently broadcast on GPS, and allows new signal updates after launch. LEARN MORE

EDGE CONNECT: EDGE Connect provides several key capabilities including the establishment of a Software-Defined Wide Area Network, or SD-WAN, increasing resiliency over existing communications systems by stitching together multiple pathways, such as satellite communication, cellular, radio frequency, etc. and automating management of network traffic versus status quo use of a single pathway. LEARN MORE



Today, more than ever, we are looking for ideas to keep us on the cutting edge of new and innovative technologies. We have created this website to make it easier for idea generators to CONNECT with our Air Force and Space Force science and technology experts and opportunities, we have created this website. Simply click on the lightbulb icon to submit an idea or peruse our links to find open opportunities in our S&T ecosystem. Find the right opportunity, event or website – that ticks all the boxes for you – by using our easy search and filter functions on each page. For more information, check out the video and links below, and visit our About Us page as well. Share your idea and GET CONNECTED to the Air Force and Space Force!



Check out AFRL’s impact on the Air Force and the Aerospace industry for 2021 HERE.


AFRL reimagines what’s possible by leading scientific research and development for the Air Force and Space Force.