VAATE-type technology demonstrators down to a single contractor demonstrator will significantly diminish competition-driven advancements.

During their visit to Wright-Patterson AFB in May 2009, committee members were presented with an overview of the integrated planning process that involves each of the AFRL lab directors being assigned to lead one of eight Focused Long Term Challenge areas (e.g., the director of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate is responsible for the sustainability area). These challenge area teams are staffed with cross-functional personnel from other directorates who help make the directors and members aware of USAF challenges. The teams also include members from the AFRL planning group who are responsible for structuring the planning and budgeting document for the entire AFRL. The directors of the Materials and Manufacturing and the Propulsion and Power Directorates had recently organized a Propulsion Mate rials Workshop that resulted in signs of improved communications and coordination between the two directorates. The committee views this as a very positive move, but observed that there was not representation from the AFOSR, the user commands, or the systems program offices and that these workshops were not institutionalized as regularly scheduled events.

3.3
MATERIALS RESEARCH AND DATABASES

3.3.1
Basic Research

Fundamental research supported by the AFOSR is not tied to specific platforms or systems but is designed to build a knowledge base that may be relevant to desired long-term capabilities (i.e., 20 to 30 years in the future). As stated in Chapter 2, the current AFOSR broad agency announcement17 describes research opportunities that are consistent with the capability-based planning approach. Research related to materials for propulsion applications is described in several of the programs within the research portfolio, including the High Temperature Aerospace Mate rials Program.

The HTAM Program18 clearly identifies both air-breathing and rocket propulsion systems as application areas of interest. The program emphasizes several aspects of materials research, including the discovery of new materials with superior performance above 1000ºC, microstructural evolution at elevated temperatures, and materials behavior under combined loadings (e.g., mechanical and acoustic).

Potential propulsion applications addressed by the HTAM Program are shown in Figure 3.3. Technology areas either funded currently or over the past 10 years

17

 See AFOSR BAA-2008-1. Available at http://www.wpafb.af.mil/AFRL/afosr/. Accessed March 8, 2009.

18

 Document AFD-080612-188.



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