The head of the recently stood up 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing said today the transition of a new data translation tool to the unit "may have hit upon a way to cheat the valley of death" and could serve as a framework for further maturing software going forward.
Further, the wing's purview over and continued development of the data transition tool serves to showcase the value of an organization like the 350th, said Col. William Young, the wing's commander: having a dedicated pool of people with the right talents to accept imperfect, software-based technology "and actually turn it into something that provides capability to a warfighter."
Though Young told attendees at the Association of Old Crows convention in Washington he didn’t believe software should face the so-called acquisition "valley of death" in most cases, he touted the unit's direct receipt of the System-of-systems Technology Integration Tool Chain for Heterogeneous Electronic Systems, a move he said would help get that technology and others into warfighters' hands quickly "and start doing reps."
STITCHES, a software tool that automatically integrates different systems across domains, was recently transitioned to the wing from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Officials have since set up a STITCHES Warfighter Application Team to serve as a help desk and assist others with leveraging the technology to solve other organizations' integration issues.
A team within the 350th is set to deliver STITCHES mission capabilities in the spring of 2022, Young said. Officials aim to achieve initial operational capability by the summer, he told Inside Defense, a timeline that's driving the spring goal.
Beyond STITCHES, Young touted the value of having an organization like the 350th, which Air Combat Command activated in late June, that he said could "take these one-off capabilities and one-off great ideas" from industry, academia and the military and "put those together in a synthetic thing" that could become a minimum viable product or capability release.
That happens, he said, through repeated use from a multidisciplinary team, individuals who can "take all those great ideas and translate them into something that you can put in the warfighter's hand today, even if they're not perfect."
That then, Young added, allows officials to "feed our acquisition system and go, 'Now I've got my requirements and I've got confidence that what I'm saying what I want is actually what I want because I've had the chance to get some reps.'"
"That's really what we're talking about here," he said. "Going back to why a spectrum warfare wing -- what other organization do we have today across the Air Force that can do that?"