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Air Force Light-Attack Experiment team wins Order of Daedalians Weapon System Award

  • Published
  • By Bryan Ripple
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – A multi-functional team of experts from across several major commands received the 2017 Daedalian Colonel Franklin C. Wolfe Weapon Systems Award at a Sept. 20 ceremony at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Club for their efforts during Phase I of the Light Attack Aircraft Experiment.

The Air Force Light Attack Experiment Team was presented the award by Jim DeStout, Adjutant, Flight 9 – Frank P. Lahm Order of Daedalians, in recognition of completing Phase I of a series of trials to determine the feasibility of using low-cost light attack aircraft in support of air-ground missions.

The Weapon System Award recognizes major contributions to the outstanding development of an aerial weapon system, as nominated by the military services. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein selected the Air Force Light Attack Experiment Team as the Air Force nominee.

Using rapid acquisition authorities granted by the National Defense Authorization Act, the team, consisting of representatives from the Office of Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation within the Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Education and Training Command and office of Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Technology and Logistics completed Phase I of the experiment in August 2017, according to the award citation.

In less than a five-month time span, the team quickly assembled and defined experiment objectives, partnered with industry, executed data collection and analyzed results. The experiment assessed the current capability of seven aircraft, including live flying evaluations of four of them against eight light attack experiment objectives.

The experiment culminated in a down-select to two platforms that met all the Phase I objectives in preparation for the Phase II experiment this year. The experiment brought together Air Force and industry partners and provided a venue for learning that would not have occurred otherwise. The method for exploration and experimentation using a cost-sharing approach with industry was extremely innovative and effective, the citation said.

“One of the things that’s pretty amazing about this is not just doing what you did in five months, but all the players involved,” said DeStout. “You guys got to work what I call a streamlined program. A lot of people work acquisition for 35 years and never work a streamlined program. Some people who work in this business go 10 years and never see the product or the result of what they worked on. When you get the opportunity in a short time, to accomplish what you set out to do, and do it in a streamlined fashion, that’s a lot of fun. Everybody then becomes focused on an objective. That’s the key. The other key is having the authority for that small team to be able to do things and make changes and not have to run all the traps. I don’t have to tell you how much fun that is – I can see it as I’ve talked to a few of you. I congratulate you all.”

“Light Attack Experiment I was a team effort from across several different commands and Headquarters Air Force,” said Dr. Ravi Penmetsa, Light Attack Experiment Team Lead. “It required innovative thinking and personal commitment to success by all the team members. Everyone on the team overcame a ‘This is not how we do this’ attitude and embraced a ‘We can get it done if’ attitude and that was the biggest lesson learned from LAE I. Let us build on this success to help the Air Force with rapid capability development.”

The combined efforts of the members of the team made the Phase I Experiment effort a huge success, which, in turn, paved the way for this year's Phase II Experiment and the further development and maturation of the USAF Light Attack Aircraft acquisition strategy. 

The Order of Daedalians was founded in 1934 to honor aviators who served in World War I. The Daedalian Foundation now recognizes excellence in all areas of aviation with numerous awards and scholarships. The Daedalian Weapon System Award, one of 18 Daedalian Awards, was first presented in 1970 by Colonel Franklin C. Wolfe, who served as assistant chief and then chief of the Armament Laboratory of the Army Air Forces Materiel Command at Wright Field from 1939 until 1944. For more information about the Daedalians, visit: