The CDIC is encouraging Australian industry to submit proposals for two AFWERX challenges run by the US Air Force, which is seeking solutions to strengthen its air combat and training capabilities.
AFWERX is a product of the USAF, directly envisioned by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. Her vision of AFWERX is to solve some of the toughest challenges that the Air Force faces through innovation and collaboration among top subject matter experts.
The world is changing quickly – new technologies, new threats and new opportunities. AFWERX taps into the power of creativity and empowers intentional innovation that unleashes emergent approaches for the warfighter through a community of entrepreneurs, industry, academia and non-traditional contributors.
The two challenges open for Australian industry to submit proposals are:
- USAF Helmet System Open Challenge: The USAF has allocated up to US$20 million to redesign and replace the fixed wing (plane) helmet used by pilots and aircrew.
This challenge is a new initiative for USAF and uses the AFWERX team and process to find people with the ideas, components, materials and technologies to improve the fixed wing aircrew helmet. The helmet of tomorrow needs to be lightweight, comfortable, stable, improved noise protection, have better thermal management and the ability to tailor the helmet for different needs.
- Pilot Training Next v2.0 Challenge: The USAF is short 2,000 pilots and needs to train new aviators faster but with the same quality. To do this, the USAF has committed to revolutionising pilot training with the launch of the “Pilot Training Next” initiative. Endorsed by the most senior leaders of the Air Force, this experimental program is prepared to spend US$300,000 or more for the right set of upgrades and solution trials as it launches the next pilot training cohort. If proven successful, technologies and solutions adapted now will be the foundation of a total redesign of the program, which has the potential to reach US$100 million or more in contracts over time.
General Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, said, "We've got to innovate to maintain America's security. We've created the AFWERX Challenge to accelerate inventive ideas from start-ups, industry, academia and research labs in the most collaborative way and get them to America's Airmen at the speed of relevance."
Further information, including application details and deadlines for both challenges, is available here.