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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
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The Role of
Experimentation
Campaigns

in the Air Force
Innovation Life Cycle

Committee on the Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force
Innovation Life Cycle: A Study

Air Force Studies Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

A Report of

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This activity was supported by Grant FA9550-14-1-0127 from the U.S. Air Force. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the view of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-45112-3
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
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COMMITTEE ON THE ROLE OF EXPERIMENTATION CAMPAIGNS IN THE AIR FORCE INNOVATION LIFE CYCLE: A STUDY

LESTER L. LYLES (Gen., USAF, Ret.), NAE,1 Independent Consultant, Co-Chair

ALEX MILLER, University of Tennessee, Co-Chair

TED F. BOWLDS (Lt. Gen., USAF, Ret.), The Spectrum Group

CHARLES R. “CR” DAVIS (Lt. Gen., USAF, Ret.), Seabury Aerospace & Defense

BLAISE J. DURANTE, U.S. Air Force (retired)

ANTONIO L. ELIAS, NAE, Orbital Sciences Corporation

IVY ESTABROOKE, Utah Science, Technology and Research Agency

DAVID E. HAMILTON, JR., Eagle Aerie, Inc.

BERNADETTE JOHNSON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Laboratory

WILLIAM JOHNSON, WMJ Associates LLC

JOSEPH LAWRENCE, National Defense University

ROBERT ANDREW KIRK MITCHELL, NAE, Independent Consultant

BENJAMIN RILEY, Georgia Insitute of Technology, Research Institute

JOEL SERCEL, ICS Associates, Inc.

DANIEL WARD, Dan Ward Consulting, LLC

Staff

JOAN FULLER, Director, Air Force Studies Board

GEORGE J. COYLE, Study Director

STEVEN G. DARBES, Research Assistant

DIONNA C. ALI, Research Assistant

ADRIANNA HARGROVE, Senior Program Assistant/Financial Assistant

CHRIS JONES, Financial Manager

MARGUERITE E. SCHNEIDER, Administrative Coordinator

NANDA RAMANUJAM, Consultant

___________________

1 National Academy of Engineering.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
×

AIR FORCE STUDIES BOARD

DOUGLAS M. FRASER, Doug Fraser, LLC, Chair

DONALD C. FRASER, NAE, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (retired), Vice Chair

BRIAN A. ARNOLD, Peachtree City, Georgia

ALLISON ASTORINO-COURTOIS, National Security Innovations, Inc.

TED F. BOWLDS, The Spectrum Group

STEVEN R.J. BRUECK, University of New Mexico

FRANK J. CAPPUCCIO, Cappuccio and Associates, LLC

BLAISE J. DURANTE, U.S. Air Force (retired)

BRENDAN B. GODFREY, University of Maryland, College Park

MICHAEL A. HAMEL, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company

DANIEL E. HASTINGS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

RAYMOND E. JOHNS, JR., Flight Safety International

ROBERT H. LATIFF, R. Latiff Associates

NANCY G. LEVESON, NAE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MARK J. LEWIS, Science and Technology Policy Institute

ALEX MILLER, University of Tennessee

OZDEN OCHOA, Texas A&M University

RICHARD V. REYNOLDS, Van Fleet Group, LLC

STARNES E. WALKER, University of Delaware

DEBORAH WESTPHAL, Toffler Associates

DAVID A. WHELAN, NAE, Boeing Defense, Space, and Security

REBECCA WINSTON, Winston Strategic Management Consulting

MICHAEL I. YARYMOVYCH, NAE, Sarasota Space Associates

Staff

JOAN FULLER, Director

ALAN H. SHAW, Deputy Director

DIONNA C. ALI, Research Assistant

GEORGE J. COYLE, Senior Program Officer

STEVEN G. DARBES, Research Assistant

CARTER W. FORD, Program Officer

ADRIANNA HARGROVE, Senior Program Assistant/Financial Assistant

CHRIS JONES, Financial Manager

ANDREW J. KREEGER, Program Officer

MARGUERITE E. SCHNEIDER, Administrative Coordinator

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
×

Preface

BACKGROUND

The Air Force (USAF) has continuously sought to improve the speed with which it develops new capabilities to accomplish its various missions in air, space, and cyberspace. Arguably, the pinnacle of these efforts was reached during the time of the Air Force Systems Command (AFSC), which operated a mature and powerful development planning process called VANGUARD.1 Over the years, however, VANGUARD eroded and eventually disappeared, primarily because its funding declined, and AFSC then became the technology-focused part of the acquisition organization of the combined Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC). Funding for development planning was at one time a robust program element (PE) 65808. As Congress reduced this PE and as the new AFMC focused more on the sustainment of weapon systems, development planning withered to become a largely lost art and science.

In an attempt to address this recognized deficiency and recapture the way that it used to do development planning, the Air Force commissioned a number of

___________________

1 For example, Air Force propulsion research in the late 1950s and early 1960s created the technological base that took turbojet propulsion into the era of the so-called high-bypass-ratio fan jet, making possible large-capacity airlifters (of which the C-5A was first) and airliners (typified by the Boeing 747) and transforming both military and civil aeronautics. Over the same period, Air Force research on electronic flight controls generated an equivalent technological base supporting the emergence of the first inherently unstable fly-by-wire aircraft, the YF-16, Have Blue, and Tacit Blue, progenitors of the immensely successful F-16, F-117, and B-2.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
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studies over the past several years by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s)2 Air Force Studies Board. Those studies included the following:3

  • Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Acquisition (2008),
  • Evaluation of U.S. Air Force Preacquisition Technology Development (2011),
  • Assessment to Enhance Air Force and Department of Defense Prototyping for the New Defense Strategy: A Workshop Summary (2013), and
  • Development Planning: A Strategic Approach to Future Air Force Capabilities (2014).

The Development Planning (DP) study, in 2014, was the impetus for Air Force leadership to embrace the need to address DP completely and to initiate several policy and organizational changes in a revamped Air Force capability development process. The Executive Summary of the Charter for Air Force Capability Development, presented in its entirety in Appendix D, reads as follows:

To deliver timely and effective Air Force capabilities for the Joint Warfighter, AF leadership needs a mechanism to recognize the highest priority operational challenges and opportunities and align them with strategy, planning, programming, requirements and acquisition activities across the enterprise. . . .” This new Capability Development process is the 21st Century embodiment of the VANGUARD and Development Planning processes of the past. It encourages innovation, experimentation, and, prototyping. It also encourages doing these things rapidly to answer questions about the art of the possible for future planning as well as funding.

The need for rapid innovation, driven by a combination of experimentation and prototyping, gave rise to the present study, in which the committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine considers how properly designed and executed experimentation campaigns can help restore the level of innovation the U.S. Air Force once enjoyed.

STATEMENT OF TASK AND STUDY APPROACH

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering requested both the convening of a workshop, Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle, and the current study

___________________

2 Effective July 1, 2015, the institution is called the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. References in this report to the National Research Council are used in an historical context identifying programs prior to July 1.

3 These reports of the National Research Council were published by National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
×

on this same topic. Together, the workshop and the study would be an integral component of the thrust to reinvigorate development planning.

In response, the National Academies set forth a statement of task to guide the ad hoc Committee on the Role of Experimentation Planning in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle as it wrote the current study. The committee, consisting of industry, academia, and retired members of government was formed and tasked with the following:

  1. Define the current state of practice of experimentation within the Air Force (AF).
  2. Assess the role of experimentation in the innovation life cycle and address how it can support the Air Force’s future technology requirements.
  3. Evaluate the role of risk management and experimentation in the innovation life cycle.
  4. Evaluate current legislative, organizational, or other barriers that limit the use of experimentation within the AF.
  5. Review and recommend best practices for incentivizing experimentation based on an assessment of comparable S&T organizations.
  6. Recommend metrics that can be implemented across the AF to monitor and assess the use and value of experimentation.
  7. In addition, the committee will address any other factors deemed to be relevant, such as organizational structure or concepts of operation that could enhance the likelihood of successfully implementing a robust experimentation program in the Air Force acquisition community.

To accomplish these tasks, the committee met seven times, including in a kickoff meeting, a workshop, and in five meetings to collect information and initiate the report writing process (see Appendix C for meeting agendas). The committee met with active and retired senior leaders and officers and civilians from the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines, all of whom have been actively involved with experimentation and development planning. The committee also gained valuable perspective and insights from the senior-level (C-suite4) management of innovative companies in both defense and nondefense businesses, the venture capital industry, and academia.

While very conscious of the title of this study, the committee recognized the essential role of experimentation in innovation. It focused on how to improve innovation within the Air Force development organization and in its culture and

___________________

4 The C-suite includes all those senior company executives who report directly to the chief executive officer of a company (e.g., the chief financial officer, the chief operating officer, or the chief technology officer.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
×

planning. Experimentation itself is a major tool in the innovation cycle and is addressed as such.

ROLE OF THE AIR FORCE STUDIES BOARD

The Air Force Studies Board provides advice to senior USAF leaders based on independent research. An ad hoc committee was formed under the auspices of the Air Force Studies Board to carry out the research needed to offer such advice, which would restore the earlier level of technological innovation by increasing experimentation and experimentation campaigns. This report describes the committee’s research into highly innovative organizations, compares the best practices it found there with the practices it observes in today’s Air Force, and proposes actions to close the gaps.

Gen (USAF, RET.) Lester L. Lyles

Alex Miller

William B. Stokely Chair of Management University of Tennessee College of Business Administration

Co-Chairs, Committee on the Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle: A Study

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
×

Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Robert Barish, NAM,1 University of Illinois, Chicago,

Meyer J. Benzakein, NAE,2 Ohio State University,

Paul Bevilaqua, NAE, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (retired),

Thomas J. Burns, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,

Stephen E. Cross, Georgia Institute of Technology,

Brendan B. Godfrey, University of Maryland, College Park,

Paul G. Kaminski, NAE, Technovation, Inc.,

George W. Sutton, NAE, Analysis and Applications, Inc., and

Michael Yarymovych, NAE, Sarasota Space Associates.

___________________

1 National Academy of Medicine.

2 National Academy of Engineering.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
×

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert E. Schafrik, NAE, General Electric Aviation (retired), and Wesley L. Harris, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NAE, who were responsible for making certain that independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
×

Acronyms

$AVE

Surfing Aircraft Vortices for Energy

3D

three-dimensional

ABL Airborne Laser
ACC

Air Combat Command

AF

Air Force

AFB

Air Force Base

AF CDC

Air Force Capability Development Council

AFMC

Air Force Materiel Command

AFRL

Air Force Research Laboratory

AFSB

Air Force Studies Board

AFSC

Air Force Systems Command

AFSOC

Air Force Special Operations Command

AMC

Air Mobility Command

AOC

Air Operations Center

BENS Business Executives for National Security
BMDO

Ballistic Missile Development Organization

CAOC-X Combined Air Operations Center-Experimental
CDC

Capability Development Council

CDWG

Capabilities Development Working Group

CEO

chief operating officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
×
CHOP

Countermeasures Hands-On Program

CNC

computer numerically controlled

CoCOM

Combatant Command

CRP

Commercialization Readiness Program

CSAF

Chief of Staff of the [United States] Air Force

CTO

chief technology officer

DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
DIUx

Defense Innovation Unit Experimental

DOD

Department of Defense

DP

Development Planning

ECCT Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team
FY fiscal year
GAO Government Accountability Office
GNP

gross national product

HQAF Air Force Headquarters
MAJCOM Major Command
MDAP

major development acquisition programs

MWR

morale, welfare, and recreation

N-Star NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Application Readiness
NACA

National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NRC

National Research Council

OODA observe, orient, decide, act
PE program element
PI

principal investigator

R&D research and development
RCO

Rapid Capabilities Office

RCS

radar cross-section

RDT&E

research, development, technology, and evaluation

Page xvii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23676.
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S&T science and technology
SAB

Scientific Advisory Board

SAF/AQ

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition)

SBIR

Small Business Innovation Research

SDPE

Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation

SecAF

Secretary of the Air Force

SIMAF

Simulation and Analysis Facility

SOCOM

Special Operations Command

SOF AT&L

U.S. Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

STTR Small Business Technology Transfer
TRL technology readiness level
UAV unmanned air vehicle
USAF

U.S. Air Force

USAFE

U.S. Air Forces in Europe

USD AT&L

Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics

VC venture capital
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The Air Force (USAF) has continuously sought to improve the speed with which it develops new capabilities to accomplish its various missions in air, space, and cyberspace. Historically, innovation has been a key part of USAF strategy, and operating within an adversary’s OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act) is part of Air Force DNA. This includes the ability to deploy technological innovations faster than do our adversaries. The Air Force faces adversaries with the potential to operate within the USAF’s OODA loop, and some of these adversaries are already deploying innovations faster than the USAF.

The Role of Experimentation Campaigns in the Air Force Innovation Life Cycle examines the current state of innovation and experimentation in the Air Force and best practices in innovation and experimentation in industry and other government agencies. This report also explores organizational changes needed to eliminate the barriers that deter innovation and experimentation and makes recommendations for the successful implementation of robust innovation and experimentation by the Air Force.

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