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Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

GRIDRASTER Proudly Selected by U.S. Air Force for Strategic Financing (STRATFI) Program

Monday, July 22nd, 2024

Program is Integral Part of AFWERX and SpaceWERX vision to forge an innovation ecosystem that delivers disruptive Air and Space capabilities

Mountain View, Calif. – (July 16, 2024) – Grid Raster Inc., a leading provider of AI-enabled cloud-based Extended Reality (XR) platforms that power high-performance and scalable Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR)/Mixed Reality (MR) experiences for enterprises, announced today it has been selected by the U.S. Air Force for its Strategic Financing (STRATFI) program. 

The announcement was made at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, made public by AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force and powered by the Air Force Research Laboratory, and SpaceWERX, the innovation arm of the U.S. Space Force and a unique division within AFWERX. The joint entities announced the Program Year 2024 Strategic Funding Increase, a contract award selection from its Phase II eligible applicants.

AFWERX Director and Chief Commercialization Officer for the Department of the Air Force, Col. Elliott Leigh, made the announcement during his keynote speech titled “Chasing Innovation: Lessons Learned,” at Capital Factory, the home of AFWERX’s Austin Hub.

“Our growth stage investment programs, Strategic Funding Increase and Tactical Funding Increase, are an integral part of the AFWERX and SpaceWERX vision to forge an innovation ecosystem that delivers disruptive Air and Space capabilities,” Leigh said. “By deliberately engaging with Space Force Deltas, Air Force Major Commands, Program Executive Offices and Department of the Air Force Senior Acquisition leadership, we are employing dollars at scale, both government and private investment, to accelerate the development of strategic capabilities. I am impressed by the scope and diversity of capabilities submitted in response to the Program Year 24 opportunity and am excited to see the outcome of the continued development of these capabilities over the coming years.”

For the U.S. Air Force, maintaining superior situational awareness is crucial for mission success and ensuring the safety of personnel. GridRaster’s 3D AI extended reality solutions can integrate data from various sensors and sources into a unified augmented reality display, providing pilots and commanders with real-time insights into their operational environment. From advanced threat detection to terrain mapping and navigation assistance, these augmented displays enhance situational awareness and decision-making capabilities in high-stakes scenarios.

GridRaster works extensively with the U.S. Air Force and aerospace manufacturers for high-fidelity modeling, simulation and training, and extended reality (XR) solutions. The company provides a functional, agile, modular, scalable XR technology stack for automation, robotics and digital twins in support of the digital transformation efforts in the industry. GridRaster’s XR platform moves the heavy computation required for immersive and high precision XR experiences to the cloud while using XR HMDs as a collection of sensors and displays, greatly reducing or eliminating many of the limitations of current and forthcoming XR devices and platforms.

STRATFI is both an AFWERX and SpaceWERX effort to help Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, and Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, projects overcome the difficult transition between development and full production. This multi-year infusion of funds gives small businesses an opportunity to find the investors they need and the ability to continue research and development as they march toward full-rate capability.

“The integration of 3D AI extended and mixed reality solutions represents a paradigm shift in how the US Air Force and aerospace manufacturers approach training, operations, maintenance, and design processes,” said Rishi Ranjan, CEO fof GridRaster. “By leveraging immersive simulations, augmented maintenance procedures, virtual prototyping, collaborative remote operations, and enhanced situational awareness, these technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to enhance efficiency, safety, and effectiveness across the board. Embracing these transformative technologies will not only drive innovation within the aerospace industry but also ensure the continued readiness and superiority of the US Air Force in an increasingly complex and dynamic global landscape.”

To schedule a demo or to learn more about GridRaster’s technology, please visit gridraster.com.

USecAF, CMSAF Visit F.E. Warren, Emphasize Essential Role of Ground-Based Nuclear Force

Monday, July 22nd, 2024


Under Secretary of the Air Force Melissa Dalton, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force David Flosi, and several other senior leaders visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, July 1-2.

The group was immersed with Airmen from 20th Air Force and the 90th Missile Wing to discuss nuclear modernization and better understand the vital role of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile force.

Four-hundred ICBMs form the most responsive leg of the nation’s nuclear triad alongside bomber and submarine-launched nuclear weapons. The geographically dispersed basing of the ICBM force, in addition to the range and speed in which it can be employed, complicates potential adversaries’ decision calculus.

“The ground leg of the triad is essential,” Dalton emphasized. “Its responsiveness deters potential threats by signaling that any attack on the U.S. would be impractical, self-defeating and met with severe consequences.”

During the trip, all leaders agreed that while the current weapon system is reliable for now, the Air Force must prioritize a replacement to ensure effectiveness and credibility well into the future.

“Our Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles are the most responsive leg of our nation’s nuclear triad. It requires sustained and fully funded investments,” Flosi added. “Without these resources, we risk leaving ourselves vulnerable to 21st century threats. We must continue to prioritize these investments in order to ensure our military remains the best in the world.”

The Air Force’s fleet of ICBMs have remained on around-the-clock alert since 1959 with the last major recapitalization occurring in the 1980s. The current Minuteman III missiles and 450 launch facilities are set to be replaced by the increasingly accurate, secure and reliable Sentinel program.

While the Sentinel program is one of the largest and most complex programs the Air Force has ever undertaken, it will drastically improve the overall effectiveness of the nuclear triad to counter current and future strategic risks.

“Modernizing the ground-based deterrent while sustaining the Minuteman III system is a challenge that demands significant, responsible investment and a holistic approach,” Dalton noted. “In the face of the nuclear modernization by our competitors, it’s imperative to modernize our own force to underwrite our nation’s defense and uphold our extended deterrence commitments to our allies.”

After a mission brief at 20th Air Force headquarters, the group was hosted at Missile Alert Facility A-01 by missileers, defenders and a myriad of Airmen who perform other critical support functions.

First Lts. Connor Tovey and Sydney Kongquee, 319th Missile Squadron missileers, talked through a day in their life during a 24-hour shift. After a lengthy drive to the facility, the pair travels 60-70 feet underground into a capsule where they monitor their assigned launch facilities and wait for an order they hope never comes, though it’s an order they’re determined to execute if necessary.

Maintaining and operating the 15 missile alert facilities and various launch facilities across F.E. Warren’s 9,600 square-mile missile field is a 24-hour, seven-days a week responsibility.

Flosi, who joined the Air Force in 1996 as a nuclear weapons specialist, is vividly familiar with the importance of the job.

“Our Airmen are critical to national security,” Flosi said. “They are on the front lines of deterrence every single day, working tirelessly to ensure our nation is protected from any threat. Dedicated and professional Airmen are what makes our Air Force the best in the world.”

Later, the group toured a launch facility, more commonly referred to as an underground missile silo. The senior leaders witnessed first-hand how a highly skilled, disciplined cadre of maintainers have kept the Minuteman III operational for more than 50 years.

Until the transition to the Sentinel program is made, the Air Force will continue to rely on these maintainers to ensure the Minuteman III remains a reliable and effective deterrent.

“After meeting these Airmen, and learning about their creativity and innovation, I’ve never been more confident in our military’s ability to deter threats to the U.S. and our allies,” Dalton said. “We owe it our Airmen to ensure that we modernize the force.”

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Virtual Symposium Develops Air Commandos to Maximize Potential

Friday, July 19th, 2024

Hurlburt Field, Fl —  

Participants across Air Force Special Operations Command took part in the Commando LEAD Symposium on July 15 virtually to learn techniques to continue to build the force we need.  

“We have a duty as leaders to ensure anyone who chooses to serve has an environment to thrive,” said Maj. Gen. Rebecca Sonkiss, Deputy Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. “We are talking about building strong teams, a fabric of unique and different thoughts, with trust, that are ready to deliver the full capabilities of our nation with the lethality we need to win,” she added.  

The Commando LEAD Symposium had an array of speakers, which all focused on the need to maximize an Air Commandos potential and to sharpen their mindset. 

“The Air Commando Mindset is a bias for action, setting really high standards, and holding each other accountable. It is this mindset that actually earns us the title Air Commando and comes from a rich heritage,” said CMSgt Anthony Green, Command Chief Master Sergeant at Air Force Special Operations Command. “We must have all three things and remain adaptive. We cannot allow ourselves to stagnate because of the risk of failure. Know the mission, seek our purpose, and unleash that out the box thinking that AFSOC has always been known for,” he added.  

At the virtual symposium, participants were provided insights on how to cultivate a professional workplace, nurture workforce talent, and promote an inclusive environment.  

“We are not a social justice organization, we are a combat capability generating and warfighting organization, but we can still find ways to take care of each other. And so, to that end, Air Force capabilities and warfighting skills are enhanced by the diversity of its personnel,” said SMSgt Remy Voisin, Senior Enlisted Advisor for the 1st Special Operation Wing Commanders Action Group.  

Topics at the event included “Air Commando Mindset,” “Diversity as an Operational Necessity,” and “Overcoming Systemic Barrier’s.”  

When we foster an environment of inclusion, our force becomes a more engaged, effective, and lethal.

“Bringing broad spectrum of teammates to the table so they perform to the best they can stands the test of time. Our expectation is everyone is a leader, and everyone needs to be leading in this space,” said Sonkiss.  

LEAD stands for Leadership, Equity, Advocacy and Development.

Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

All-Electric Fixed-Wing Aircraft Offloads Cargo at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

Wednesday, July 17th, 2024


Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst played a vital role in a historic first cargo flight as part of a demonstration of the ALIA CTOL, a battery-powered fixed-wing aircraft, July 9. The National Aerospace Research and Technology Park (NARTP) in Atlantic City tested the aircraft’s cargo usage by flying a lap pattern from Atlantic City, Dover Air Force Base and JB MDL.

The U.S. Air Force, in a partnership with BETA Technologies, has been instrumental in the development of ALIA. This groundbreaking aircraft, with a range of 250 nautical miles and the capacity to seat up to five passengers, is a testament to the Air Force’s adaptability to new technologies. The Air Force’s interest in the ALIA’s flexible applications further reinforces its commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements.

Moving cargo between Dover AFB and JB MDL with the ALIA is advantageous because it saves time and many other valuable resources.

“We can be ready to take off in a matter of minutes, and the battery has a low center of gravity, which is not affected by the way you load the cargo,” said Ross Elkort, BETA Technologies flight test engineer.”

The 305th Maintenance Squadron’s Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory team unloaded 319 pounds of cargo from Dover AFB and loaded 222 pounds to send on a return trip.

Having last-mile cargo delivery handled by a battery-powered fixed-wing is an opportunity to make air mobility safer, cleaner and more cost-effective.

“It brings key innovation to the mission. It’s going to make things faster and simpler,” said Alyxandra Scalone, 305th Maintenance Squadron production controller. “Dover (AFB) is about two and a half hours away from us. Today’s flight only took 45 minutes.”

“An all-electric aircraft like the ALIA is the next evolution of rapid global mobility,” said Zachary White, BETA Technologies team member. “We started working with the AFWERX Agility Prime Program in 2019. We are super excited to be here and supporting Air Mobility Command. Doing different types of missions and flying cargo between bases, it was great to see the flexibility of this aircraft.”

By MSgt Joseph Vigil, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

“Mission Over Function” – Developing Combat-Effective Airmen for Great Power Competition

Saturday, July 13th, 2024


Unprecedented changes to the global security environment are driving sweeping reforms to the way the U.S. Air Force will develop, deploy, and employ combat forces and capabilities to defend the United States, allies and partners nations around the world.

Officials from Air Education and Training Command, which will be redesignated as Airman Development Command, are rapidly redesigning core institutional training and development architectures to support Great Power Competition. This includes designing education and training for the future force with a “mission over function” mindset, where the primary focus is on developing Airmen to emphasize their shared military purpose and mission objectives over individual functional roles.

“Success in today’s strategic environment requires a force aligned and focused on the requirements and attributes that will keep us competitive,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, commander, AETC. “In the context of the U.S. Air Force, ‘mission over function’ emphasizes prioritizing mission success over organizational silos. When it comes to GPC, we are laser focused on developing our Airmen first, ensuring they are mission ready, with the skills we need to succeed as we transform into a more expeditionary force with deployable combat wings.”

As the Department of the Air Force implements major changes, the ADC will develop Airmen with a mission first mindset, and serve as the institutional major command responsible recruiting, training, educating and developing resilient, mission ready Airmen who thrive in complex and contested environments.

“This mindset helps us create an optimized, functionally informed, and agile force development command that effectively accelerates the journey from recruitment to operational deployment, aligns learning content with operational feedback and future capabilities, and precisely matches talent with Air Force requirements,” Robinson said. “Ultimately, our purpose is to enhance the Air Force’s operational readiness by fostering rapid content development, precision talent management, and training pathway agility, ensuring the force remains adaptable, resilient and strategically adept.”

In this construct, force design and operational feedback will serve as the guiding North Star in the overall development of Airmen.

The ADC’s centers of excellence at the Headquarters and Numbered Air Force levels will serve as primary focal points for early integration and coordination with Air Force Materiel Command, Air Combat Command, the service component commands, and the Integrated Capabilities Command regarding sustainment, operational feedback and future capabilities development, ensuring initial skills training and leader development incorporates the competencies every Airman needs for success in GPC.

“With ADC owning overall responsibility for force development, the training for new weapons systems is less likely to be an afterthought due to our ability to integrate with ICC to prepare that training through a mission perspective lens,” Robinson said. “The COEs will expeditiously provide enterprise-focused training and education solutions to support the operationalization of new integrated capabilities in collaboration with the other institutional commands.”

According to the USAF’s The Case For Change, developing personnel is a deliberate priority requiring a dedicated and unified effort to attract, retain and nurture the talent and specialized skills demanded by the emerging strategic landscape. The Air Force must cultivate Mission Ready Airmen—individuals with the expertise and versatile skillsets required to win in various operational scenarios. The personnel we need requires optimizing the force we have by centralizing force development, reinvigorating our warrior ethos to create Mission Ready Airmen, and establishing robust and effective paths for technical areas critical to creating competitive advantage.

“Tomorrow’s Airmen will remain technical experts, but they will also be trained to be mission-ready with additional skills and competencies,” Robinson said. “This includes the concept of mission command, which will allow them to make bold decisions and take advantage of fleeting opportunities to fight and win multiple fights as agile teams. This type of leadership doesn’t just happen. It takes intentional development and practice.”

Additionally, The Case For Change emphasizes centralizing specific facets of force development under a single commander will streamline the coordination, integration, and execution of Air Force training and education initiatives. This centralization will enable the identification and evaluation of specific areas of Airman development that are common and would benefit from a concentrated, integrated approach. This will ensure a more standardized Airman experience and development with a shared understanding of the threat environment.

The desired outcome is the development of the right Airmen for the right place and time, a skilled cadre well-prepared for future challenges, and a cohesive workforce adept at competing effectively—poised to surge and sustain operations during times of conflict. This transition also requires the appropriate renaming of AETC to ADC, reinforcing its focus on shaping the Airmen of tomorrow.

Efficiencies to having force development under a single commander include:

– A single focal point to consolidate and respond to warfighter training requirements that allow the command to rapidly deliver new curriculum that enables the more rapid expansion of training production in a crisis or conflict.

– Enables force providers and components the ability to focus on combat readiness training vice institutional training.

– Improved relationships with industry and provides a single advocate for training modernization research and development and increases the opportunity for new technology use in training at scale.

One example of a mission transitioning to ADC ownership is the development team process, which provides the tools to be accountable for career field succession plans and force development vectors with ultimate responsibility residing with the ADC commander.

“We are transitioning functional force development requirements to ADC while still being advised by functional authorities on the competencies needed by Airmen in the field,” Robinson said. “With multiple functional communities individually directing development in a variety of ways, enterprise needs can sometimes take a backseat to functional career field needs.”

The ADC will provide that holistic, enterprise integration and assessment, via a single commander with the requisite force development authorities to make enterprise-level decisions.

“We’re out of time, and we have to really think differently and figure out how we develop the force at the speed of need and relevance,” Robinson said. “Our strategic advantage is our Airmen. Our sole focus for ADC is making sure our enlisted Airmen, officers and civilians are prepared sooner to be credible, capable, and competent in delivering unstoppable air and space power to detect, deter, confront, and if called upon, combat and defeat potential adversaries.”

By Dan Hawkins, Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

52nd SFS Hosts International Training for Military Working Dog Handlers

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024


The 52nd Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Section hosted U.S., German and Luxembourgish military units and law enforcement organizations for advanced interoperability training at Spangdahlem Air Base, June 26.

The training challenged the communication and command skills of the over 25 working dog teams and reinforced their ability to detect explosives and locate suspects and missing persons in a variety of environments.

“The knowledge learned from the events our teams were run through today will allow us to set forth a training plan that will strengthen our capabilities over time,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Vinson, 100th Military Police (Military Working Dog) Detachment, 709th Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade operations noncommissioned officer.

The 52nd SFS staged multiple training simulations throughout the seminar including explosive scent detection outdoors and in low-light conditions, which required the use of night vision goggles, search and rescue, and suspect apprehension. The opportunity to work through cultural differences and training techniques increased the operability of the course overall.

“These are areas we all have some level of expertise in,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Fortmayer, 52nd SFS/MWD Section trainer. “As the hosts, we wanted to make sure we provided teams with realistic scenarios the dog teams could very well face, so they not only get the training, but get it in a way where we all learn something from each other as a result.”

Handlers also received instruction and hands-on practice in canine tactical combat casualty care from U.S. Army veterinarians and animal care technicians assigned to Veterinary Readiness Activity Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. Handlers practiced first-aid techniques using the Advanced K9 Medical Trainer mannequin, which is designed to simulate breathing, verbal reactions and realistic stimuli.

“To us, these dogs are much more than dogs – they’re partners,” Fortmayer said. “We care about these dogs the same way we would any of other human because they defend us with their lives. It’s critical we can help them when they are most vulnerable.”

The training included the following units: 86th Security Forces Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, U.S. Army 100th MP (MWD) Detachment at Miesau Army Ammunition Depot, as well as the German Bundeswehr, Germany’s Rhineland-Pfalz and Saarland Polizei, the Search and Rescue departments in Trier and Grand Ducal Police in Luxembourg.

SSgt Max Daigle,

52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

LeMay Center, AMC Announce Major Update to Air Mobility Operations Doctrine

Monday, July 8th, 2024


The Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education and Air Mobility Command collaborated on significant revisions to the recently released Air Force Doctrine Publication 3-36, Air Mobility Operations, reflecting the service’s renewed commitment to maneuverability and lethality.

The publication’s first major revision in five years also reflects the evolving strategic environment and re-emphasizes the importance of the joint functions of maneuver, sustainment and command and control. “These principles are critical to preparing the mobility air forces to effectively position the joint force for advantage and deliver lethal effects at the tempo required for victory,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, AMC commander.

Highlighting the publication’s release, Minihan stressed, “Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics, the victors study maneuver.” Remarking on the efforts to update the doctrine he added, “This version of AFDP 3-36 pushes the envelope in recognizing what the mobility air forces bring to the fight and how we elevate the lethality of the joint team. It includes new sections on command and control, maneuver, the key role air mobility plays in deterrence operations, and critical lessons learned from Operation Allies Refuge, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and recent operations in Israel. Our future challenge demands close reading of this document and thinking about how to fight.”

AFDP 3-36 underscores that air mobility operations are a fundamental extension of airpower — the capability to project military power through control and exploitation in, from and through the air. This updated doctrine aligns with the realities of Great Power Competition and is the first in a series of major service doctrine updates designed to prepare the Air Force for future conflicts.

The LeMay Center is responsible for the development, dissemination and implementation of Air Force doctrine. It is conducting a full doctrine review in support of the Air Force re-optimization for Great Power Competition.

By SMSgt Richard P. Ebensberger, Air University Public Affairs

General Conley Takes Command of Air Force Special Operations Command

Friday, July 5th, 2024


Lt. Gen. Michael Conley assumed command of Air Force Special Operations Command from Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind in a change of command ceremony at the Freedom Hangar here July 2. 

Presiding over the ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin praised Bauernfeind’s past accomplishments and Conley’s future potential as the commander of AFSOC. Allvin said the image that came to mind when he thought of the transition to a new commander was the passing of a baton in a race.

“Races are won or lost by fractions of a second,” he said. “The stakes are high for our Air Force, our special operations community and our nation and we can’t afford to take a pause. Mike Conley is up to speed. He’s ready. He brings a breadth of experience working with the Air Force, major command and joint staff. He also has a depth of experience in the AFSOC mission.”

During the ceremony, four formations of Air Commandos stood at attention to represent the Airmen of AFSOC. The military formation, comprised of 85 Airmen, represented the five active-duty, one Reserve wing, and two National Guard wings; and more than 20,000 active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and civilian Airmen who serve across AFSOC.

U.S. Army Gen. Bryan Fenton, commander of United States Special Operations Command, also provided remarks during the ceremony, as AFSOC is the Air Force component of USSOCOM. Fenton welcomed Conley as AFSOC’s new commander and praised the command for its spirit of innovation.

“Mike, welcome aboard,” he said. “You are taking charge of an exceptional team. You know this already because you’ve been a key part. You’re inheriting an incredible organization that is not only pathfinding and trailblazing for SOCOM but equally for our Air Force and on top of that, the Department of Defense. And they are doing it at lightning speed. You’re exactly what AFSOC needs to continue that transformation.”

Lt. Gen. Michael Conley assumed command of Air Force Special Operations Command after previously serving as the director of operations for Headquarters AFSOC. He was responsible for implementing and directing operational command policy for AFSOC’s worldwide special operations units including 20,800 personnel, approximately 300 aircraft and $17 billion in assets. He also served as the vice commander for AFSOC’s 27th Special Operations Wing and the commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing.

“I am honored and humbled for this opportunity,” he said. “I am committed to making this command the best it can be in ensuring we are ready to go whenever you need us to.

Bauernfeind was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal as well as the USSOCOM ceremonial colors for his accomplishments as commander and then received the final salute from the Air Commandos. He will depart AFSOC to become the next Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy.

By Lucelia Ball, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs