AFRL to highlight latest technologies at AFA Warfare Symposium
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory will showcase programs and technologies in several areas including space, weapons, biotechnology, and command and control, plus avenues for sharing ideas or capabilities with the lab during the Air Force Association’s Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, March 2-4, 2022.
AFRL supports both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force, seamlessly working high priority research areas across the lab, meeting operational needs and delivering warfighting technologies to Airmen and Guardians.
AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle will speak with media representatives on March 4 from 8:30-9 a.m. discussing the lab’s role in delivering superior science and technology that enables the Department of the Air Force to deter, fight and win in contested battles against strategic competitors.
“Our way of warfare depends on technological superiority and AFRL has a long history of top-notch research and development that ultimately enhances air and space power,” said Pringle. “AFRL is committed to delivering cutting-edge, transformational capabilities to our warfighters,” she said, highlighting the lab’s ability to “bridge the Valley of Death through strategic partnerships.”
Pringle will also discuss the latest on the DAF Vanguard programs including Skyborg, an autonomous aircraft teaming capability. Vanguards represent high-priority initiatives or “all-in efforts” led by a partnership between scientists, engineers and Program Executive Offices where these groups join forces and work closely with warfighters to deliver advanced capabilities on aggressive timelines.
“The AFRL team is intensely focused on unleashing the power of science and technology for air and space warfighting capabilities,” said AFRL Executive Director Timothy Sakulich. “As the pace and scale of strategic competition has accelerated, so too has AFRL’s solemn commitment to Guardians and Airmen,” he said emphasizing that the lab “will continue to deliver scientific innovation and technical know-how that creates complexity for adversaries and combat dominance for the USAF and USSF.”
AFRL Technologies on Display at AFA
Some of the space programs to be highlighted by AFRL include Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research Project (SSPIDR) and Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS). SSPIDR is a series of integrated demonstrations and technology maturation efforts to address space-based power collection and transmission capabilities while CHPS is a spaceflight experiment designed to demonstrate space domain awareness capabilities in the cislunar regime.
AFRL will also highlight the lab’s weapons programs including QUICKSINK and Rapid Dragon, which are both collaborative, cross-agency efforts.
“I’m so proud of the new ways in which AFRL has partnered with warfighters, acquirers, industry, and academia to advance innovative capabilities,” said Pringle noting that, “while the lab is generally known for its bench-level R&D, our ability to collaborate with others and help transition technologies to warfighters is equally as impressive.”
With QUICKSINK, AFRL is working with the U.S. Navy on enabling air-delivered weapons that sink capital ships, thereby neutralizing maritime threats. Meanwhile, Rapid Dragon is a fast-paced Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation campaign exploring feasibility and operational advantages of airdropping long-range palletized munitions from existing airlift platforms, such as the C-130 and C-17, without aircraft modifications. The multi-phase program involves nearly 30 stakeholders from across the Department of Defense, Air Force Major Commands, Test and Evaluation enterprise, program offices and industry.
“AFRL’s SDPE office has worked closely with AF Futures, Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Mobility Command to demonstrate the delivery of palletized munitions, increase capacity of fires and provide combatant commanders greater flexibility to respond in dynamic operational environments,” said Dr. Dean Evans, SDPE Rapid Dragon program manager.
AFRL will also highlight the Tactical High Power Operational Responder or THOR, a counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon developed for defense of airbases. Nominated for an AFA Warfare Symposium Innovation Award, THOR is a novel system that uses high power microwaves to cause counter-electronic effects with rapid results.
“Our innovative approaches to technology development and experimentation enable the lab to stay on the cutting edge of science,” said Pringle. “Accelerating S&T will help us stay a step ahead of our strategic competitors,” she said.
The AFRL booth will also feature several biotechnology efforts that address a number of DAF challenges. Programs highlighted include Airman Data and Performance Tracking System (ADAPTS), Integrated Cockpit Sensing (ICS) and Fatigue Optimized Cognition Under Stress (FOCUS).
ADAPTS is a platform with mobile fitness applications, wearable sensors, prediction analytics and visualizations that collects performance data and relays it for tracking and monitoring purposes. The ICS uses best-of-breed sensors to monitor a pilot’s physical state, ensuring his or her ability to fly safely. FOCUS is a mobile application that conducts real-time fatigue assessments, providing operational data to facilitate better mitigation efforts.
In the command and control arena, AFRL will showcase its Software Defined Radio program and the Hack-a-Sat competition. Software Defined Radio uses an agile software development process to enable warfighters and machines to communicate with each other via a multi-spectral, deployable system providing high capacity and assured connectivity. The Hack-a-Sat event brings together the world’s top cybersecurity talent, challenging them to help reduce vulnerabilities and build more secure space systems.
Connecting with AFRL
AFRL will also highlight various avenues for connecting with the lab at its AFA Warfare Symposium booth including AFWERX, SpaceWERX and the Tech Connect website. AFWERX, part of AFRL and the innovation arm of the DAF, transitions agile, affordable and accelerated capabilities by teaming innovative technology developers with Airmen and Guardian talent. Such teaming occurs across academia, industry, investment, interagency and international partners to expand technology, identify talent and transition dual-use capabilities.
AFWERX’s Agility Prime program will be on display along with an electric powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) virtual reality simulator to illustrate how AFWERX is partnering with commercial industry to fast-track air mobility systems.
SpaceWERX, the U.S. Space Force-affiliated arm of the AFWERX team, focuses on advancing innovative technologies for USSF Guardians and expanding the space industrial space by guiding additional partners, leveraging commercial investment and rapidly pursuing new technologies, while closely aligning its efforts with space operators and acquisition professionals within the USSF.
Meanwhile, innovators who would like to share ideas with AFRL, are encouraged to visit the Air Force and Space Force Tech Connect website, a portal where users can submit ideas and capabilities with AFRL subject matter experts for potential feedback, collaborations and opportunities.
For more information about the 2022 AFA Warfare Symposium, please visit https://www.afa.org/events/calendar/2022-03-02/aws.