USAF & DIU Appoint Developers for Vehicle Prototyping

The U.S. Air Force, working with the Defense Innovation Unit, has selected four companies to develop prototype systems for the Enterprise Test Vehicle (ETV) Project By William Mackenzie / 07 Jun 2024
USAF & DIU Appoint Developers for Test Vehicle Prototyping
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The Air Force Armament Directorate (AFLCMC/EB) and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) have selected a series of commercial companies to develop prototype solutions for the Enterprise Test Vehicle (ETV) project. 

Source: Zone 5 Technologies

Anduril Industries, Integrated Solutions for Systems, Inc., Leidos Dynetics, and Zone 5 Technologies have been elected to develop prototype solutions for flight demonstration in late summer/fall 2024. The companies were selected from a highly competitive field of more than 100 commercial and dual-use technology company applicants.

Initial flight demonstrations will occur within seven months from the agreement award dates. After this, one or multiple of the most promising prototypes will continue development toward a production variant capable of rapidly scalable manufacture.

Vendors are incorporating commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components wherever possible to mitigate supply chain bottlenecks and to keep costs low. Vendors will also leverage modern design for manufacturing approaches, ensuring air vehicles are not over-engineered for their intended mission. The developers will also minimize use of expensive materials, and enable on-call high-rate production that is not possible with more exquisite counterparts.

Source: Leidos Dynetics

To enable future design improvements and rapid integration of subsystems, prototypes are utilizing an open systems architecture reference. Capable of deployment en masse through multiple launch methods, ETVs create an overwhelming dilemma for any defending adversary.

AFLCMC/EB and DIU have partnered to identify and prototype commercial and dual-use technology solutions for an enterprise test vehicle that demonstrates modularity for subsystem upgrade testing. The technology will also serve as a foundation for affordable high-rate production.

Additional ETV government project collaborators and evaluators include Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM).

Cassie Johnson, the Armament Directorate’s ETV Program Manager, commented; “While the Armament Directorate remains committed to our highly-capable legacy products, we have become convinced that widening the aperture to include more non-traditional aerospace companies offers the best chance at accomplishing our cost-per-unit goals, project timeline, and production quantity goals. We eagerly anticipate bringing respectable capability to our warfighters.”

Andrew Hunter, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, stated; “We are excited to partner with DIU. The ETV presents an opportunity to leverage promising ideas from industry to create and refine affordable designs for test capabilities that can be produced on a relevant timeline.”

Doug Beck, Director, Defense Innovation Unit, added; “This award is a great example of how we are partnered closely with the Air Force to drive innovation for the warfighter, with the focus, speed, and scale necessary to achieve strategic impact. 

“Together, we are harnessing the power of commercial technology to meet a critical operational need for straightforward, affordable, and quickly scalable autonomous systems in the air.

“DIU is committed to pursuing a number of initiatives to accelerate autonomy within the Department including the adoption and scaling of trusted commercial autonomy and improving our ability to counter adversarial systems.”

Posted by William Mackenzie Connect & Contact
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