Despite Golden Horde Success, USAF Not Ready to Make Technology Program of Record

The Golden Horde Vanguard program yielded good results but will not advance into a program of record just yet, Air Force Materiel Command boss Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr. told reporters.

The Air Force’s “Golden Horde” Vanguard program recently demonstrated Small Diameter Bombs receiving and interpreting new instructions mid-flight and collaborating with each other to strike designated targets. Air Force Research Laboratory boss Maj. Gen. Heather L. Pringle said at the time Golden Horde is completely changing the way the Air Force thinks about munitions. And, though Bunch agreed the demo was a success, he said it will not “immediately” turn into a program of record.

“We haven’t finalized” what will be done with the technology, he said. The program was a success at demonstrating collaboration and networking, and the next step is to take that knowledge and put it into simulations run by the Air Force Munitions Research Labs to “bring in new ideas and capabilities” about how it might be fielded, he said during a June 4 Defense Writers Group virtual event.

Further experimentation will be done virtually before it is done “in the open air,” he said. The Air Force will be looking for “what gain” the system may offer. The demos have provided a technical baseline that can be modeled, and that’s less costly and “labor intensive” than using real munitions with a host of people, aircraft, and ranges, Bunch said.

Golden Horde may become a program of record later, but “not all Vanguards” will become fielded capabilities, he noted. However, in this instance, a Major Command and various Program Executive Officers were involved, so all could see the technology and its potential.

“There may be certain parts of what we found in Golden Horde that we can [apply] in another weapon or system, but in and of itself, we’re not going to make a program of record,” he said.