The Air Force (AF) Independent Research and Development (IR&D) program is managed within the Plans & Programs Directorate, Headquarters Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The AF IR&D program office, resident in AFRL/XPPD at WPAFB OH, manages the AF IR&D framework, with general oversight from the AFRL leadership, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology & Engineering (SAF/AQR). Since early 2007, the AF IR&D program framework's mainstay has been the proven collaboration model known as the AF/Industry IR&D Technology Interchange Meetings (TIMs).
Although the IR&D TIMs process has changed dramatically since inception, the prime focus remains on sustaining a dialogue on data vital to both parties - expanded data to Industry on AF warfighting capability gaps and technology needs, and deeper, clearer understanding of Industry IR&D investments with direct relevance to those gaps and needs that could evolve into technology applications.
As commonly known, IR&D is a contractor's own investment in basic, applied and advanced research and development and studies. IR&D initiatives are funded independently by defense contractors, and a portion of these costs are recovered as overhead cost on current government contracts in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Defense Contracting Audit Agency regulations. Each year, DOD invests approximately $4 billion in defense firms' IR&D. These investment results in technology advances that ultimately benefit the warfighters. In a series of Better Buying Power initiatives by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, IR&D collaboration has reached a high pinnacle for DOD senior leadership.
In 2012, the mandate changed whereby defense contractors claiming more than $11 million in a year on IR&D and bid and proposal costs were required to submit their IR&D projects to the government through a secure website called the Defense Innovation Marketplace (defenseinnovationmarketplace.mil). Known as the Marketplace, this industry portal is a critically important tool used by the Department of Defense (DOD) to inform industry of technology gaps and to identify relevant research efforts by industry. The AF IR&D program office has adopted it as a conduit to both government and Industry organizations.
In early 2014, the AF IR&D team re-tooled the hybrid collaboration using the Marketplace and expanded its range of government engagement into the other services. The AF IR&D team continues to push the envelope beyond the AF service core functions, planning and executing Industry engagements focused on Communities of Interest (COIs) and specific technology-focused initiatives, such as Autonomy (Nov 2014) and High Energy Lasers (Dec 2014), as requested by AFRL and the combatant commands.
For additional information on AF IR&D initiatives, please contact AFRL HQ IRDPM.