A continued partnership between the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) in Bossier City, Louisiana, and the AFGSC Office of the Chief Scientist at Barksdale Air Force Base generated several new innovative projects over the past year.
The CIC and STRIKEWERX innovation hub, through a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) with AFGSC, connects business, industry, higher education, and military stakeholders to bridge the command’s most critical technology gaps.
“From data analytics, decision tools and software automation to advanced learning technologies and augmented reality advances, the CIC continues to provide AFGSC with solutions that otherwise would not exist,” said PIA Director Jeff Beene.
Technology transfer and transition projects totaling $12.3M in investments contributed to the goal of providing solutions with 14 projects added and 26 projects in work at year’s end.
“Entering our sixth year of PIA operations, the CIC has matured to a level that most Department of Defense entities would only begin to hope is possible,” said Craig Spohn, executive director and president of CIC. “AFGSC has realized a five-fold return on its investment with impacts of $248M to date. This growth and maturity, while still increasing, is now very apparent through the results being achieved. Working together with our partners in the chief scientist’s office to accomplish these results is worthy of pause and reflection.”
STRIKEWERX completed a major project with the delivery of the A-Circuit mixed reality trainer for the largest security forces community in the U.S. Air Force. This prototype demonstrated the ability to improve unique training for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile security forces, which can save equipment and man-hours.
For example, in the two years preceding this project, training-related issues with the A-Circuit resulted in additional costs of $376,190 and approximately 2,176 additional maintenance man-hours. ICBM security forces successfully tested the prototype with impressive results, and the headquarters is now moving to acquire operational trainers.
STRIKEWERX managed three problem challenge events in 2022. The first challenge, Emergency Aircrew Response, completed initial prototyping and evaluation with the company IoT/AI progressing its prototype on a unique, “Star Trek-like” personal alerting device.
Two companies for the second challenge, B-52 Air Refueling Trainer, delivered prototypes in August 2022. This unique simulator is estimated to save $4M per year in costs and reduce training time.
STRIKEWERX launched its third challenge event in 2022, Advanced Training Concepts, which aims to further develop and incorporate advanced training technologies. Three companies were chosen to begin prototyping for three focus areas in AFGSC — Emergency Ordinance Disposal accident response, B-52 communications systems training, and E-4B communications maintenance training.
The STRIKEWERX innovation hub conducted two Design Sprints in 2022. The team traveled to the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to co-host a sprint with the Air Force CyberWorx innovation hub. The group of industry and academia spent five days developing a prototype with the 2021 STRIKEWERX Spark Sprint (S3) winner to improve his design of a new survival kit in the B-52 ejection seat.
The improved cable routing will eliminate an expensive explosive device with limited shelf life and a hard outer shell, will reduce wear and tear of the kit contents, and will reduce stresses on the kit during the ejection sequence. The project will save $648,432 in equipment costs and 1,824 man-hours per year.
The second design sprint was a heated B-52 engine inlet cover that aims to eliminate over 100 engine no-starts due to extreme cold temperatures at Minot AFB, North Dakota. Twelve copies of a prototype were produced and delivered to the base and are in testing this winter.
2022 also saw STRIKEWERX and AFGSC Office of the Chief Scientist support universities with ideas for and sponsorship of senior design projects. A redesign of the B-52 tow bar in May 2022 by a Louisiana Tech University mechanical engineering senior design team rendered the tow bar collapsible, lessened its shipping footprint, and removed the need for 6,000 lbs. of additional wood shoring for loading and unloading. A second senior design project launched in September 2022.
The CIC and AFGSC partnership in 2022 had the most return on investment to date, and the team looks forward to building on these successes throughout 2023.
“The benefits of our efforts prove the partnership is making great strides for the command, and the way ahead lies in continuing this partnership — recently approved for renewal by the Air Force — and increasing the impact and frequency of our technology transfer projects,” said Beene.