Military Embedded Systems

Air Force Research Laboratory invites new approaches to tech in 2016


January 06, 2016

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio. Air Force Research Laboratory officials held four different engagements in 2015 to establish long-term vision, shared government and industry objectives, and invite new approaches to solving technology challenges. This year officials plan to reach out to more industry partners to equip U.S. military forces in the future.

Defense planners face evolving threats and an increase in cyber threats by nation-states, organized crime, and other factors, officials say. In November, at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said the department planned to meet these demands by incorporating new operational and organizational constructs, relying heavily on innovation, teaming and collaboration between industry, academia, and the defense laboratories.

During an October engagement, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental in California's Silicon Valley became an endeavor to establish new connections in the information technology sector to harness innovation for the military.

Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, says that the trend will continue to engage productively with large and small businesses and it already underpins the development of Air Force Research Laboratory's advanced technologies.

Air Force Research Laboratory has exceeded its 2015 goal of 39 percent of contract awards to small businesses, as they are critical to the laboratory, says Bill Harrison, the Laboratory's Small Business Lead.

"These free and open events, focused around specific technology areas, are popular with entrepreneurs, industry and university researchers," Harrison says. "They help strengthen the Air Force industrial base and benefit small technology businesses by identifying new commercial markets for promising Air Force technology." Air Force Research Laboratory Small Business Collider Events are a recent addition to the AFRL industry outreach mix.

According to Harrison the Small Business Hub at Wright-Brothers Institute in Dayton, Ohio, grew to nearly 450 members, held 70 collider events and 210 one-on-one meetings to assist businesses and link them with the Laboratory.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="340" caption="
A Wright Flyer and images of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright are featured on the newest DoD supercomputer. Photo by U.S. Air Force photo/ Derek Hardin.
"] A Wright Flyer and images of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright are featured on the newest DoD supercomputer. Photo by U.S. Air Force photo/ Derek Hardin.[/caption]

"We're building trust and relationships with these small business partners who then become better positioned to support us with their creative ideas. This is win-win and a bridge to speed innovation," says Doug Ebersole, AFRL Executive Director.

Today’s research in game-changing technologies like hypersonics, autonomy, unmanned systems, and directed energy will play an important role in protecting our nation, Masiello says.

"Hypersonics enables us to fly to a target at Mach 6, directed energy is about precise effects at the speed of light, autonomy is focused on things like Airmen-machine teaming and big data analytics to make faster, better-informed decisions," he said. "We're on a path to enable these things and they will give our future warfighters an unfair advantage over their adversaries -- which is exactly what we want."

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