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SECAF talks Light Attack Experiment, innovation at AFA dinner

Secaf Wilson AFA

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks during an Air Force Association event in Arlington, Va. Aug. 1, 2017. Wilson highlighted the aircraft flying in the Light Attack Experimentation campaign, progress in the establishment of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations directorate and the next step in Air Force innovation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Wayne A. Clark)

ARLINGTON, Va. -- While speaking at an Air Force Association event in Arlington, Va., Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson highlighted the four aircraft that Air Force pilots will fly through a range of combat mission scenarios in the Light Attack Experimentation Campaign at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico next week.

The Air Force will assess Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano, Air Tractor Inc. and L3 Platform Integration Division’s AT-802L Longsword, as well as Textron Aviation’s Scorpion jet and AT-6 Wolverine turboprop, during the live-fly experiment.

"The light attack aircraft experiment took five months from conception to aircraft delivery," said Wilson. "We will learn some things, including how fast and cost-effectively we can get capabilities to the warfighter."

Space

One of the key initiatives in the Air Force efforts to integrate, normalize and elevate the space mission is the establishment of a Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations directorate, or "A11." The initial cadre, consisting of 43 members, is in place and completing the final tasks that will ensure the A11 is ready to execute its assigned roles and responsibilities.

Next steps include the selection of a senior civilian to serve as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, which is in the final stages of coordination and will be announced later this month. Once the Assistant DCS is in place, the A11 directorate will become a functioning element of the Air Force Headquarters staff.

This is one of several milestones as the Air Force adapts its structure to reflect the reality that space is a joint warfighting domain. The service is also streamlining its acquisition process, enhancing indications, warning and responsiveness to threats in space, strengthening requirements, and instituting a new space Concept of Operations.

Additionally, the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget increases space funding by 20 percent.

Innovation

Wilson said the Air Force is beginning to look at the way it approaches innovation differently.

“We need to get our ideas from the lab bench to the flightline fast,” she said.

The Air Force is exploring new ways of doing things to include involving more input from industry and universities in the decision process.

Wilson said the Air Force will also look to open architecture systems, specifically in space related multi-domain command and control, to help create a more agile and flexible environment and reduce analyst processing, evaluation and decision time.

In July, Wilson announced the launch of AFwerX, which opens Air Force doors to highly innovative problem solvers with small amounts of money in ways that strip out bureaucracy and engages the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

“This isn’t the norm,” she said. “But this is the direction we are headed.”

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