AFA Winter 2021: US Air Force envisions additional Vanguard S&T programmes in the future

by Pat Host

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) could have as many as six Vanguard priority science and technology (S&T) programmes in the coming years, said Brigadier General Heather Pringle, AFRL chief, on 24 February, during the Air Force Association’s (AFA’s) annual Aerospace Warfare Symposium.

Brig Gen Pringle said that she wants to have a pipeline of Vanguard programmes coming and going. The three current Vanguard efforts are Skyborg, a family of autonomous capabilities on affordable unmanned aircraft platforms for low-cost combat; Golden Horde, a collaborative munitions effort; and Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3), an alternative position, navigation, and timing (PNT) capability.

Kratos is integrating, testing, and delivering its XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aircraft under a contract for the AFRL’s Skyborg Vanguard priority S&T effort. AFRL could add additional Vanguard programmes in the coming years. (US Air Force)

Kratos is integrating, testing, and delivering its XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aircraft under a contract for the AFRL’s Skyborg Vanguard priority S&T effort. AFRL could add additional Vanguard programmes in the coming years. (US Air Force)

Vanguard programmes aim for significant technical achievements that demonstrate viability of leap-ahead capabilities. They advance emerging weapon systems and warfighting concepts through prototyping and experimentation. The US Air Force (USAF) wants to link its investments to these transformational capabilities and accelerate funding to this portfolio by fiscal year 2023.

“I am looking forward to the time where we have the pipeline greased so that we can add new Vanguards or that we get to the point where we have failed fast or graduated some of the other ones,” Brig Gen Pringle said.

The USAF and other government research organisations, industry, and academia will compete for proposals for new Vanguard programmes. Selection will be based on defined criteria emphasising potential operational relevance and scientific capability, according to AFRL’s 2030 Science and Technology strategy.

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/afa-winter-2021-us-air-force-envisions-additional-vanguard-st-programmes-in-the-future

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) could have as many as six Vanguard priority science and ...

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