Rapid Capabilities Office
Published November 23, 2020
Rapid Capabilities Office
The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (DAF RCO) has accelerated methods for developing, acquiring and fielding critical combat capabilities. The office preserves the strength of U.S. ingenuity and innovation without the rigidity of traditional acquisition. Located in Washington, D.C., the DAF RCO reports directly to a Board of Directors chaired by the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. Board members also include the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff, the Chief of Space Operations, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition), and the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The office responds to Combat Air and Space Forces and combatant command requirements.
- The DAF RCO delivers capabilities at the speed of emerging threats. Specifically, the office:
- Expedites the development and fielding of select Department of Defense combat support and weapon systems
- Leverages defense-wide technology development efforts and existing operational capabilities
- Provides integration and technical support to other Service or U.S. Government activities
- Conducts independent operational and technical assessments of weapon or combat support system capabilities and vulnerabilities
- Takes on new challenges to accelerate operationally-focused capabilities
The Board of Directors tasks the office directly to address immediate and near-term operational needs and delivers capabilities that require specialized expertise. The DAF RCO is staffed with a collaborative, multidisciplinary team. Inherent in the DAF RCO’s mission is intent to experiment, within the bounds of statute, to discover and recommend new methods, processes and techniques for the Air Force, the Space Force and the Department of Defense to acquire and field capabilities efficiently.
Key Operating Principles
Key operating principles of the DAF RCO include a short and narrow chain of command, early and prominent war-fighter involvement, and funding stability.
The Secretary of the Air Force activated the office on April 28, 2003. One of its first projects was to deploy significant upgrades to the Integrated Air Defense System, now operational around the National Capital Region, to meet critical counter-terrorism objectives before the January 2005 Presidential Inauguration Day. Current DAF RCO work includes the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a reusable, unmanned space test platform for the United States Space Force, and the B-21 Raider, a long-range strike bomber for the United States Air Force.
(Current as of November 2020)