The Air Force today announced a new initiative to sponsor ideas that advance functional challenges and transformational capabilities identified in the service's 2030 Science and Technology Strategy.
"Air Force Explore" will award four to seven contracts -- each worth between $1 million and $2 million -- for proposals that address one of three functional challenges: in-flight re-arming and refueling, personnel recovery kit delivery and vehicle tracking in commercial imagery.
Ideas should also advance one of five strategic capabilities: global persistent awareness; resilient information sharing; rapid and effective decision making; complexity, unpredictability and mass; and speed and reach of disruption and lethality.
These capabilities are "grounded in the National Defense Strategy's key operational problems" and are "foundational to battlespace superiority," according to the S&T Strategy, which the Air Force released in April.
The new opportunity reflects a joint effort between the service's acquisition executive, the Air Force Warfighter Integration Capability and the Air Force Research Lab, per an AFRL statement.
The service is encouraging partnerships, which may include teams of government, industry and academic organizations. "Agreements will be custom tailored to each partner, including the choice of award vehicles," the notice states.
It explains that the service is trying to change its business practices and the way it engages with the national market for technology.
Timothy Sakulich, AFRL's executive lead for Air Force 2030 implementation, states, "the Air Force has created a single path to a level playing field for large industry, small business, startups, academia and government labs to promote solution-oriented thinking and free competition for resources."
Submissions are due Nov. 11, and winners will be announced by next March.