The theme of this year’s Air Warfare Symposium is “Innovation: The Warfighter’s Edge.” Speakers will include USAF Secretary Heather Wilson (Thursday, 8:10 a.m.), Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein (Friday, 8:20 a.m.), Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes (Friday, 11:10 a.m.), and Air Education and Training Command boss Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast (Thursday, 3:30 p.m.). The conference also will highlight airmen who have served as innovators and leaders from industry giants such as Alphabet Inc. See the full conference agenda and a detailed map of the exhibit floor. Track the conference on social media by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, or by using #AWS18.

ALIS 3.0 Testing Complete But Improvements Are Slow

The baseline F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System—ALIS—version 3.0 has completed operational testing and will be installed in field units as quickly as possible in the coming months, a Lockheed Martin Vice President told reporters in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday. However, she acknowledged the system is still experiencing growing pains and does not yet deliver the easy maintenance or manpower savings expected at this point in the its development, expressing hope that sustainment costs will come down as 3.0 is fielded and as version 4.0 takes shape. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

AFWERX’s Innovation Lab Will Change USAF Acquisition, Once It Gets Its Name Out

The goal of AFWERX’s innovation labs is to change the way the Air Force acquires the technology it needs rapidly. This mission starts with a startup-focused facility in Las Vegas, complete with 3D printers and carbon-fiber ovens aimed at turning ideas into prototypes faster. Next month, the Vegas innovation lab will hold a two-day expo focused on understanding the problem of securing a perimeter, it’s first focus area. It will solicit ideas from startups, small businesses, and academia. Then the lab will down select in preparation for another event in September. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

DIUx Building a Culture of Innovation While Rapidly Pushing Products to the Field

The Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental (DIUx) already has pushed six programs to the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. Most were developed and reached initial operational capability within the last year, and helped increase efficiencies and effectiveness, reduced man hours, and increased savings, Col. Mike Drowley, US Air Forces Central Command chief of staff, told Air Force Magazine during a recent visit to the CAOC. Read Jennifer Hlad’s full story, which will appear in the April/May issue of Air Force Magazine.

AOC Pathfinder is Saving USAF Big Money, And It Wants More of It

The air and space operations centers Pathfinder program set off in late 2017 to modernize the Air Force’s air operations center in-house, after a devastating and costly effort to do the same with industry. Lt. Col. Jeremiah Sanders, program manager for AOC Pathfinder, talked to Air Force Magazine about what it takes to be more innovative. His biggest takeaway? It’s what companies like Uber or Google, Facebook or Amazon already know: You can release software faster with higher quality, higher security, and less risk. All you have to do is abandon the traditional waterfall process in developing it. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.

Chief Wright’s Challenge

CMSAF Kaleth Wright knows the lives of enlisted airmen are out of balance, with too many demands on them at home station and too many demands for them in contingencies around the world. His charter from Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein is to help put some “white space” back on the calendars of the enlisted force. But, he has his work cut out for him. After a year on the job, he’s spent considerable time visiting airmen around the world, asking for their opinions, their gripes, and the things that give them satisfied and in uniform. He sat with Air Force Magazine to share what he’s learned. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo, which will appear in Air Force Magazine’s next issue. Wright is scheduled to speak on “Harnessing the Innovative Spirit of Airmen” at AWS18 on Thursday at 9:10 a.m.

The F-22 and the F-35 Are Struggling to Talk to Each Other … And to the Rest of USAF

The Air Force’s stealth fighters, the F-22 and F-35, will be on the frontline during an anti-access, area-denial combat environment. However, the fifth generation fighters cannot talk to each other and share data in a secure, encrypted manner. The Air Force is trying to change that, and find ways to improve communications across both its aircraft and its larger networks. Read Brian Everstine’s story in the March issue of Air Force Magazine.

Spark Tank Finalists Set to Compete Feb. 23 in Orlando

The six finalists — four individuals and two teams — for the Spark Tank competition, which allows airmen to pitch innovative ideas to senior Air Force leaders, are set to showcase their ideas on Thursday during AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. The competition gives airmen an opportunity to pitch ideas that will “increase the lethality of the force, and to reduce the cost of bringing power to the fight,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said last year when she announced the competition. The individual finalists include 1st Lt. James Eimers, 90th Munitions Squadron, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., whose “Brass to Bucks” proposal uses new spent-brass-sorting technology to generate more money for the US military from spent cartridge casings; TSgt. Bartek Bachleda, 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, Kan., for a KC-135 aircraft boom instructor platform; SrA. Christopher Caruso, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Aviano AB, Italy, for a mobile pod test stand; and MSgt. Thomas Crider, 164th Airlift Wing Memphis ANGB, Tenn., for a proposal to use augmented reality in aircraft maintenance, operation, and training. The final teams consisted of Col. Tri Trinh, Lt. Col. Mike Fellows, Capt. Liquat Ali, and SMSgt. Timm Huffman, of Air Force Reserve Command, for an Air Force Connect mobile app; and John Figgins, Joseph Motowski, Jeffery Hopkins, and Micah Turner from Air Mobility Command, for a graphic display of airfield restrictions and limitations for use on electronic flight bags. Wilson, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, Milo Medin, and Jay Harrison will udge the final Spark Tank competition, which will take place at AWS18 on Thursday at 4 p.m. —Steve Hirsch