SCO, Air Force shaping plans for Arsenal Plane experimentation

By Courtney Albon / June 29, 2020 at 2:10 PM

The Air Force is working with the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office to develop a plan to prototype and experiment with stand-in/stand-off weapons delivery and recently released a technology survey seeking information from industry and academia about existing technologies that could help the service mature its Arsenal Plane concept.

Brig. Gen. Clinton Hinote, deputy director of the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability, told reporters last month the service is seriously exploring the prospect of developing an Arsenal Plane-like capability and has conducted successful tests with the C-17 and C-130. He said during a May 27 Mitchell Institute event the service was looking at options for prototyping and fielding the capability.

A new request for information released last week shows that SCO, in partnership with the Air Force, continues to make steps toward developing a prototyping plan.

The notice states that SCO is looking to "determine the maturity feasibility and operational utility of alternative solutions to deliver stand-off and stand-in type weapons en masse, from non-traditional delivery platforms," and notes they are particularly interested in solutions that could quickly move to experimentation and prototyping and be rapidly developed and fielded.

"Delivering stand-off and stand-in type weapons en masse, from non-traditional delivery platforms, is one potential option to deliver mass firepower and could prove pivotal in future conflicts," the RFI states. "There is a significant trade space between stand-in, stand-off solutions as well as capacity, range and cost at a system level. SCO would like to understand that trade space by comparing potential options."

The notice states that SCO is looking for high technology readiness level concepts that could be fielded at a relatively low cost. Responses are due July 21, but the RFI does not include information on a timeline for possible prototyping or experimentation.