Air Force Research Laboratory, with headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was created in October 1997. The laboratory was formed through the consolidation of four former Air Force laboratories and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
AFRL's mission is leading the discovery, development, and integration of warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace forces.
Personnel and Resources
The laboratory employs approximately 10,000 military and civilian personnel. It is responsible for managing and annual $4.4 billion (Fiscal Year 2014) science and technology program that includes both Air Force and customer funded research and development. AFRL investment includes basic research, applied research and advanced technology development in air, space and cyber mission areas.
AFRL accomplishes its mission through eight component Technology Directorates, the 711Human Performance Wing, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and a central staff.
Headquarters AFRL operates the Major Shared Resource Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, one of four high-performance computing centers in the Department of Defense. The center is tackling large-scale problems previously beyond the reach of processing platforms and providing a vast array of services in a collaborative environment which includes government, industry and academia. The directorates:
711th Human Performance Wing -- With headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, the 711th Human Performance Wing (711 HPW), is the first human-centric warfare wing to consolidate research, education and consultation under a single organization. Established in March 2008 under the Air Force Research Laboratory, the 711 HPW is comprised of the Human Effectiveness Directorate (RH), the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) and the Human Performance Integration Directorate (HP). The Wing's primary mission areas are aerospace medicine, science and technology, and human systems integration.
Aerospace Systems Directorate -- With headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and an additional research facility at Edwards AFB, Calif., the Aerospace Systems Directorate leads the effort to develop and transition superior technology solutions that enable dominant military aerospace vehicles. Areas of focus include vehicle aerodynamics, flight controls, aerospace propulsion, power, rocket propulsion, aerospace structures, and turbine engines. Programs advance a wide variety of aerospace technologies including unmanned vehicles, space access, advanced fuels, hypersonic vehicles, future strike, and energy management.
Air Force Office of Scientific Research -- With a worldwide exchange program for scientists and engineers, AFOSR is the basic research manager for AFRL at its headquarters in Arlington, Va. AFOSR invests in long-term, broad-based research into aerospace-related science and engineering. To accomplish this mission, AFOSR has formed a strong, productive alliance with other government agencies, U.S. industry and the academic community. Nearly 80 percent of the research is conducted in academia and industry and the remaining 20 percent is conducted within AFRL. AFOSR's investment in basic research programs is distributed to about 300 academic institutions, 145 contracts with industry and more than 150 internal AFRL research efforts.
Directed Energy Directorate -- With headquarters at Kirtland AFB, N.M., the Directed Energy Directorate is the Air Force's center of expertise for directed energy and optical technologies. The Directed Energy Directorate focuses in four core technical competencies: Lasers Systems, High Power Electromagnetics, Weapons Modeling and Simulation, and Directed Energy and Electro-Optics for Space Superiority.
AFRL pioneered the first and only megawatt class airborne laser and is a leader in ground-based space imagining using adaptive optics with our 3.5 meter telescope in New Mexico and a 3.6 meter telescope in Hawaii. The lab is transitioning game-changing counter-electronics weapon technologies that can degrade damage or destroy electronic systems with minimum collateral damage.
Information Directorate -- With headquarters at Rome, N.Y., the Information Directorate develops information technologies for aerospace command and control, and its transition to air, space and ground systems. Its focus areas include a broad spectrum of technologies including information fusion and exploitation, communications and networking, collaborative environments, modeling and simulation, defensive information warfare and intelligent information systems technologies. Directorate scientists and engineers develop systems, concepts and technologies to enhance the Air Force's capability to successfully meet the challenges of the information age. In addition to its primary mission, the directorate has partnered with other elements of the federal government, national intelligence agencies, numerous allied nations, state and local governments, and more than 50 major universities to work problems of common interest.
Materials and Manufacturing Directorate -- With headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and an additional research facility at Tyndall AFB, Fla., the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate develops new materials, processes and manufacturing technologies for use in aerospace applications. This includes aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets and ground-based systems and their structural, electronic and optical components. With a host of modern materials and analysis laboratories, the directorate also provides quick reaction support and real time solutions to Air Force weapon system acquisition offices, field organizations and maintenance depots to solve materials related concerns and problems. The directorate plans, executes and integrates advanced manufacturing technology programs and affordability initiatives addressing manufacturing process technologies, computer integrated manufacturing and excellence through design for military needs. The directorate is also responsible for the Air Force technology programs that address environmental issues and provides materials expertise for airbase assets such as runways and infrastructures and technologies for aerospace expeditionary forces.
Munitions Directorate -- With headquarters at Eglin AFB, Fla., The Munitions Directorate develops, demonstrates and transitions science and technology for air-launched munitions for defeating ground fixed, mobile/relocatable, air and space targets to assure pre-eminence of U.S. air and space forces. The directorate conducts basic research, exploratory development, and advanced development and demonstrations. It also participates in programs focused on technology transfer, dual-use technology and small business development. The directorate is dedicated to providing the Air Force with a strong revolutionary and evolutionary technology base upon which future air-delivered munitions can be developed to neutralize potential threats to the United States.
Sensors Directorate -- With headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, the Sensors Directorate leads the discovery, development, and integration of affordable sensor and countermeasure technologies for our warfighters. In collaboration with other AFRL directorates and DOD organizations, the directorate develops sensors for air and space reconnaissance, surveillance, precision engagement and electronic warfare systems. The directorate's vision is to provide robust sensors and adaptive countermeasures that
guarantee complete freedom of air, space, and cyber operations for our forces, and deny these capabilities to our adversaries. Its core technology areas include: radio frequency and electro-optical sensing, sensor fusion and exploitation, network enabled spectrum warfare, and revolutionary
devices and components.
Space Vehicles Directorate -- With headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., the Space Vehicles Directorate serves as the Air Force's "Center of Excellence" for space research and development. The Directorate develops and transitions space technologies for more effective, more affordable warfighter missions. Primary mission thrusts include Space-Based Surveillance (space to space and space to ground) and Space Capability Protection (protecting space assets from man-made and natural effects). The directorate also leverages commercial, civil and other government resources that ensure America's defense advantage. Primary focus areas include: radiation-hardened electronics, space power, space structures and control, space-based sensing, space environmental effects, autonomous maneuvering and balloon and satellite flight experiments. The directorate also operates an additional research site near Gakona, Alaska. Leading the nation in space supremacy research and development, the Space Vehicles Directorate consists of an integrated team of 900-plus military, civilian, and on-site contractors.
The laboratory and its predecessors have overseen more than 80 years of critical research efforts for the Air Force and DOD. Its technology breakthroughs can be found in all of today's modern aircraft and weapons systems, including the F-117 stealth fighter, B-2 bomber, C-17 airlifter and the F-22 fighter. It was contributed to significant advancements in modern communications, electronics, manufacturing, and medical research and products.