Air Force Secretary kicks off AFRL Forward Operating Base of the Future Project

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James toured Joint Base San Antonio's Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training facility (BEAST) March 22 to gain insight about the various operations and capabilities, and to kick off the Air Force Research Laboratory's FOB of the Future demonstration project.

"Today, I'm pleased to announce that the FOB of the Future at BEAST is open for business," James said.

Traditional FOBs rely heavily on diesel generators to provide installation and operational power. Additionally, military convoys are commonly used to supply diesel fuel in contested FOB environments, exposing service men and women to further danger.

AFRL's Advanced Power Technology Office is modifying an existing training FOB on JBSA to demonstrate new energy capabilities in reducing reliance on diesel fuel. FOB of the Future employs energy demand reduction strategies while using alternative energy sources, energy storage technologies, and secure, smart grid technologies that provide commanders with resilient energy systems and create new strategic and tactical advantages.

The project will completely modernize one zone to demonstrate the benefits associated with smart controllers, microgrids, advanced batteries, solar cells, improved HVAC units, and other energy efficiencies.

The first phase, ending in March 2017, evaluates the feasibility of deploying those systems to operational units around the world.

"Through renewable and advanced energy technologies, we can ensure our bases have the power to execute their missions, even when traditional energy resources are disrupted," James said. "The same technologies, self-sustaining approach, and energy-aware culture we're demonstrating here at BEAST are just as important across all our bases."

1st. Lt. Jason Goins, project engineer from AFRL's Advanced Power Technology Office, said having Secretary James present underlines the importance of developing reliable operational energy sources to power the mission worldwide.

"The location of the project provides an opportunity to educate 39,000 Airmen a year on the pervasiveness of operational energy in every Air Force facet," Goins said.

AFRL's Advanced Power Technology Office resides within the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate and is charged with identification, assessment, transition, and integration of advanced power technologies, enabling the Air Force to meet strategic energy goals.