AFRL breaks ground on high-tech wargaming facility

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory broke ground on a $6 million, 10,685 square foot laboratory, September 8 that will advance wargaming and simulation, and analysis for AFRL’s Directed Energy and Space Vehicles Directorates located on Kirtland Air Force Base.

The new building named the Wargaming and Advanced Research Simulation (WARS) Laboratory will house the Directed Energy Wargaming and Simulation Branch and the Space Vehicles Simulation and Analysis Branch.

“We in the Department of Defense are concerned about competition with our adversaries across all domains of warfighting,” said Col. Eric Felt, Director of the Space Vehicles Directorate. “The WARS Lab will advance three strategies AFRL is pursuing to deter conflict, which we call ISP– innovation, speed and partnerships.”

Felt said that innovation is key to beating our adversaries and that speed is essential.

“With digital engineering we can explore more concepts faster, without waiting for the “real thing” hardware,” Felt said. “This lab will promote the use of digital engineering, saving time and money, and will provide the opportunity for partnerships within AFRL, with industry and our allies. We are better working together.”

According to Teresa LeGalley, Directed Energy’s program manager for wargaming modeling and simulation, the WARS Lab will include an auditorium with more than 90 workstations for advanced concepts experiments that will allow collaboration with agencies across the Department of Defense and with air and space warfighters on concepts of employment of directed energy.

“I am excited about our vision of a virtual range becoming a reality,” LeGalley said. “We are asked to determine military utility of directed energy, which means we need to insert high energy lasers and high powered electromagnetics into a battle space, to determine how they can be used to complement the weapon systems operators already have.”

“The WARS Lab will be a state-of-the-art facility where we can demonstrate the art of the possible, immersing the warfighters into scenarios using future technologies,” LeGalley continued.

The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate will occupy about 450 square feet of the building to conduct modeling and simulation collaboration for future space technology development.

“This lab will drive collaboration across all warfighting domains and allow us to do integrated analysis though model-based systems engineering that can simultaneously improve system capabilities and performance while reducing both cost and schedule,” said Col. Jon Luminati, who leads the directorate’s Integrated Experiments and Evaluation Division.

The WARS Lab is expected to be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2023, and will replace the facility that has been in use since 2005.

“Wargaming is an essential function of our mission to “Bring Light to the Fight,” said Dr. Kelly Hammett, the Director of the Directed Energy Directorate and AFRL’s Deputy Technology Executive Officer for Space Science and Technology. “We are thrilled with the prospect of the WARS Lab that will further the transformational weapons systems, already under development in Directed Energy and promote innovation, speed and partnerships across AFRL and the DoD.”

image of breaking ground

The Air Force Research Laboratory held a groundbreaking event Sept. 8, 2021 at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. announcing the construction of the Wargaming and Advanced Research Simulation (WARS) Laboratory. The facility is in support of AFRL’s Directed Energy and Space Vehicles Directorates located on Kirtland. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tyrell Etsitty)