Air Force seeks small business to help develop new capabilities

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Air Force researchers and life cycle management experts plan to elevate collaboration with industry to a whole new level during a series of meetings here April 16-18.

The Aero Enterprise Dialogue with Industry is an opportunity for industry to gain insight into Air Force technology needs and near-term acquisition and sustainment requirements. The event will take place at the Hope Hotel and Conference Center in Fairborn, adjacent to Gate 12A at Wright-Patterson AFB. The event is sponsored by DaytonDefense a not-for-profit industry association which promotes regional economic development and a strong defense industrial base.

A unique aspect to this year's dialogue is the ability for those seeking to do business with the Air Force to get detailed information about anticipated government solicitations and other data on weapon system capability gaps with no current solutions. Air Force Program Executive Officers with portfolios managed within the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson AFB nominated these and posted charts on the Defense Innovation Marketplace website:

Air Force programmatic experts will be on hand to meet with industry participants. AFLCMC officials expect these one-on-one sessions will help shape future solicitations and provide industry with information to better meet future requirements.

James Sweeney, Small Business Innovative Research program manager for AFLCMC, said the dialogue provides direct and immediate feedback on how effectively the Air Force has communicated program requirements, and enables program managers to "pivot quickly to improve those requirements and how they are communicated, thereby reducing program risk." He added the Air Force-industry community dialogue also provides an opportunity to garner ideas that help fill Air Force capability gaps which might otherwise be overlooked, or not even considered.

"We're breaking new ground in building stronger partnerships with industry, and in particular small business," said Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore II, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander. "All of our industry and academic partners are important and we see a real opportunity to bring more small business innovation into the mix. This in turn will provide more creative and affordable solutions for our program managers."

"Together as a defense community we can achieve so much more with this kind of upfront, constructive dialogue. I really believe this approach is a win for our warfighters and for American taxpayers," General Moore added.

Col. Keith Bearden, who leads AFLCMC's Program Development and Integration Directorate, is on the agenda for two presentations of keen interest to aerospace industry partners and small business. First, a Development Planning presentation will provide an overview of pre-acquisition considerations with which both program managers and industry must be familiar.

"It is so important to get development planning right," Bearden said. "This is the up-front thinking that helps launch high-confidence, successful programs."

Bearden will also provide an update on the Rapid Innovation Fund for fiscal 2014 activities. Rapid Innovation Fund is a congressionally mandated program designed to transition innovative technologies to meet critical national security needs and features fast-track awards up to $3 million over 24 months.

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Timing for the Aero Enterprise Dialogue with Industry coincides with a separate government-industry exchange focused on emerging science and technology. The Air Force Research Laboratory invited a select number of industry participants to Wright-Patterson AFB to closed Technical Interchange Meetings to help focus Independent Research and Development (IR&D) investment. The IR&D meetings are designed to better align industry research dollars to support Air Force priorities, officials said.