After collecting the initial submissions, AFRL’s chief scientists scrutinized them for operational relevance and scientific quality, ultimately endorsing a select number of white papers to be developed into full proposals. Afterward, the Primary Investigators of each proposal presented their ideas to a diverse evaluation committee comprised of RAC members plus the chief scientists of Air Force Major Commands, including Space, Pacific Air Forces, Global Strike and Air Combat. Technical experts from the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability and the Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition also provided input.
The panel’s highest-ranking proposals selected for funding cover integrated optical systems, multi-function sensors, unmanned systems that autonomously establish airfield infrastructure, a brain-computer interface learning system, a supersonic interceptor missile, additive manufacturing techniques in composites, and fuel cells for spacecraft.
These seven teams are led by employees from all AFRL technology directorates, along with technical experts from the Center for Rapid Innovation, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, other government organizations (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Naval Research Lab and the Missile Defense Agency), industry and academia.
Moving forward, the teams will provide in-depth annual reviews with guidance from senior technical mentors to “ensure operational linkages and technical excellence.”
“The ultimate goal is to build an enhanced pipeline for applied research programs to compete for advanced technology development funding, successfully transitioning technology from application to capability,” Bunning explained. By facilitating a deeper understanding of operational relevance in the early stages of research, he hopes that this initiative can enhance research efforts and better prepare these investments for advanced demonstrations and beyond.
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