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Update: USAF's Colosseum promotes competition among prospective Golden Horde technologies

The US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL’s) new Colosseum for its Golden Horde networked collaborative weapon effort will facilitate competition between prospective technologies and inform the service on how to better structure the acquisition of those systems.

Brigadier General Heather Pringle, AFRL chief, said on 28 April that the Colosseum will be a digital ecosystem that provides best-of-breed technologies, such as algorithms or radios, an environment where the US Air Force (USAF) can evaluate which will fare better under certain circumstances. Brig Gen Pringle said that the Colosseum will help the service have a stronger architecture so that each technology has better interoperability.

“It gets us closer to that digital environment and it allows us … to be more flexible and adaptable in keeping up [with] the pace of networked collaborative autonomous weapons,” Brig Gen Pringle said.

Golden Horde, one of the USAF’s Vanguard top science and technology (S&T) initiatives, will integrate datalink radios and collaborative behaviours on inventory weapon systems to demonstrate the mission effectiveness of networked collaborative weapon capabilities. It will validate an integrated system where different technologies work together to defeat targets, according to a service statement.

The Colosseum will be a fully integrated simulation environment with weapon digital twins, or a real-world weapon and a virtual clone, to more rapidly test, demonstrate, improve, and transition collaborative autonomous networked technologies.

Brig Gen Pringle said the USAF has many unanswered questions about what types of radio technologies will work best with the Golden Horde, how to best build algorithms to work together, and what types of partnerships work best. The USAF had considered using playbooks with the Golden Horde but is now trying to get more advanced artificial intelligence (AI) iterations and autonomy, she added.

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