AFRL Wants Your Next Big S&T Idea

Air Force Research Laboratory boss Maj. Gen. Bill Cooley delivers remarks during a press conference inside the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, on April 18, 2019. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth.

Air Force Research Laboratory boss Maj. Gen. Bill Cooley told reporters Thursday the lab will start soliciting ideas within the next several months to meet the goals of the service’s new “Science and Technology 2030” strategy.

Some may evolve as “vanguard” ideas the Air Force will pursue by pulling together expertise from across the research spectrum, while others may be concepts that need more investigation before they can advance.

Cooley plans to meet with AFRL leadership within weeks to start implementing the strategy, which aims to address global persistent awareness; resilient information sharing; rapid, effective decision-making; complex, unpredictable, and mass effects; and the speed and scope of disruption and lethality.

The report notes the Air Force will set aside at least 20 percent of the annual science and technology budget—totaling $2.8 billion in fiscal 2020—for “transformational” projects, though that goal may change over time.

“The ‘21 budget is in process and so clearly, the timing is synchronized such that we hope to use this to shape that ‘21 budget within the S&T portfolio,” Cooley said. “With respect to the ‘20 budget … we’re going to work with the Hill to, frankly, lean into making shifts that make sense for the S&T system. There are some things we can just do that are internal processes.”

He added the lab doesn’t expect to “substantively” add or subtract workers, but wants to do more to place Air Force researchers in academic settings and bring more academics in.