By Derek Kaufman, 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published July 16, 2014
A B-2 Spirit flies over Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. First flight of the B-2 took place July 17, 1989. Air Force Research Laboratory investment in technologies like integrated avionics, radar and low-observables maintainability helped field the B-2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Michael S. Dorus)
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) --
Creating tomorrow's Air Force is a delicate balance. It requires a mix of science and technology, or S&T, investment to meet current warfighter needs, as well as cutting edge research to develop revolutionary capabilities which today's Airmen can only imagine, and may not see fielded this decade.
That is one important message Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Masiello intends to share with academic and defense industry partners during the Wright Dialogue with Industry, July 22-24. The industry-hosted collaboration event will be at the Hope Hotel and Richard C. Holbrooke Conference Center on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Masiello, who commands the Air Force Research Laboratory, said 60 percent of the Air Force's science and technology research and development is performed by universities and industry, including many high-tech small businesses.
"It is vitally important that AFRL engage with our industry and academia partners to highlight our requirements and research interests," Masiello said. "We need to communicate our S&T priorities and where there are gaps and opportunities in areas like cyber, autonomy and next-generation aerospace. We also get valuable feedback on industry capabilities and emerging technologies that show promise."
Masiello and Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore II, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander, will each deliver keynote presentations during the Dialogue with Industry.
Officials said a unique aspect to this year's dialogue is the ability for those seeking to do business with the Air Force to get detailed information about AFRL’s "technology focus areas" and specific S&T challenges. This information will be shared via the Defense Innovation Marketplace website and an event-specific portal hosted by Dayton Defense. All materials are restricted to U.S. citizens and government contractors. For registration and other event details, the Defense Innovation Marketplace weblink is http://www.defenseinnovationmarketplace.mil/AFRL.html.
Giovanni Pagán, AFRL's program manager for the Air Force Independent Research and Development program, said this year's dialogue will feature two full days devoted to technical discussions on eight key technology focus areas, including:
• Next generation aerospace • Space and nuclear • Weapons • Intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance • Human performance • Command, control, cyber and communications • Affordability and sustainment • Electronic warfare/electronic protection
Masiello said his team of AFRL scientists and engineers have "frequent contact with warfighters at all levels of command" to learn about challenges that urgently need solved and to share solutions that can be rapidly fielded, such as advanced airborne sensors to identify threats like improvised explosive devices. Just as important though is investment today in technologies that he called "the real game changers."
"At AFRL we really do turn science fiction into science fact,” Masiello said. “And it's the diversity of our government, industry and academic team that makes it possible. In this uncertain funding environment, we need to work together to make every dollar count."
Small business is an important source of technology innovation and transition for the Air Force, Masiello said. Growing that portion of the industrial base both benefits the nation and strengthens defense, he added. At industry outreach events like the dialogue, representatives from AFRL's Small Business Office present topics on enabling small businesses to successfully compete for research grants and technology development contract awards.
"We defend America by unleashing the power of innovative air and space technology,” Masiello said. “It's the combined ecosystem of government, academia, small business and large business, working in collaboration which enables that."