When Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein asked leaders to “unleash the brilliance in our Airmen,” Air Force Materiel Command answered the call, executing more than $4.6 million in Squadron Innovation Funds in fiscal 2018.
“The ideas came from all levels of our organization. Airmen were motivated to ‘think outside of the box,’ knowing there was funding available for them to test their innovative ideas in the work environment,” said Brig. Gen. James Peccia, director, AFMC Financial Management. “While some projects continue to be developed and refined, a number of innovations have already been adopted and implemented in the field. We’re finding great success in the initiative.”
More than $64 million in funding for innovation was authorized across the Air Force in fiscal 2018 to be used by squadron and wing commanders to “jump start” the best, most innovative ideas proposed across their mission sets. AFMC is one of only a few major commands across the Air Force to fully execute the innovation funding authorized to the command, reflecting the drive towards more agile, innovative processes aligned with delivering war-winning capabilities across the spectrum.
“Driving agility and speed into our processes has been a key focus for AFMC this year. This funding played a huge role in our efforts,” said Peccia.
The AFMC innovation efforts span the full spectrum of the command mission, ranging from infrastructure maintenance to real-time tactical awareness, data analytics and multi-domain and cyber operations support. Individual innovation efforts ranged in cost from just under $1,000 to $326,000, depending on the project scope.
One of the largest innovation efforts, executed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, has initiated the development of a new Multi-Domain Operations Center to connect operations information that currently resides in a number of cyber networks into a single, fused, comprehensive cyber picture. The $326,000 investment has purchased servers, training and infrastructure requirements to build the Cyber Ops Center and is already reducing reaction time to cyber events through increased integration and communication of cyber entities across the center footprint.
A $20,000 project by the 96th Test Wing, Air Force Test Center, placed Android Tactical Awareness Kit tablets in the hands of security forces operators who have gained increased situational awareness while on patrol through real-time access to background checks, GPS and communication networks. The increased, instantaneous communication allows for more immediate, rapid response in dangerous situations, augmenting the lethality and mission success of defenders in the field.
Other FY2018 innovation efforts include:
• Human Centered Data Analytics, 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory ($250,000): Software infrastructure and collaborative data management environment that integrates real-time modeling, analytics and machine learning;
• Flying Fox, AFLCMC ($55,000): Cellular cyber defense capability to better protect information from unauthorized access or adversarial compromise;
• Property Custodian Account Consolidation, 66th Air Base Group, AFLCMC ($43,000): Streamlines management of IT accounts for centralized execution, alleviating the additional duty from squadrons;
• Hymore Refuel Truck, 74th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Air Force Sustainment Center ($9,400): Streamlines hot pit operations for F-35 training sorties while expanding refueling capabilities by 25 percent;
• Dorm Guardian Keytrak, AFSC ($98,500): Enables dorm residents to digitally sign out dorm key using biometrics when primary key is misplaced, eliminating need for residence service calls;
• Reveal FirePro, AFSC ($17,000): Provides thermal imagery tools to firefighters, enhancing situational awareness and speed during emergency operations;
• Deep Trekker Portable Submersible Robot for Water Tank Inspections, 412th Test Wing, AFTC ($88,000): Will enable the inspection of the inside of water distribution tanks using robotic technology, eliminating the need for expensive, dangerous human inspection of tanks;
• 3D Runway Surface Scanning and Surface Re-Creation, Landing Gear Test Facility, AFTC ($23,000): Development of a 3D runway scanning methodology to yield data to feed into additive manufacturing processes for creation of fabricated runway test surfaces.
The FY19 Squadron Innovation Fund program is still being defined at the Air Force level. However, AFMC leaders plan to “act early” to execute any innovation funding provided to the command to ensure the most innovative and cost-effective war-winning capabilities are fielded across the mission environment.
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