USAF Looks to Extend Rapid Innovation Effort

David Walker, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for science and technology, told Congress recently he supports the extension of a rapid technology innovation fund, which allows quick fielding of technologies from small businesses. Speaking before the House Armed Services emerging threats panel March 26, Walker said the Rapid Innovation Fund, first authorized in the Fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill, has attracted more than 2,600 white papers and generated 94 projects for potential development and fielding. The RIF has served to bring in “new and innovative businesses to solve problems that we didn’t have a solution for,” Walker said, and helped transition certain technologies into programs of record that don’t necessarily rise to the level where they’d be addressed with large acquisition efforts. Walker said the F-35 program has been the recipient of several ideas that have allowed the program office to “reduce costs or fix problems on the production line.” USAF has moved to give the program the support of its research laboratories as well, Walker noted and the service looks forward to continuing with it. (Walker prepared testimony)