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Air Force Tech Challenge

The Air Force Prize The Air Force Prize

The Air Force Prize

Building the Engine of Tomorrow
We Want to hear from You We Want to hear from You

We Want to hear from You

Share your innovative ideas for the Air Force Tech Challenge

Project Title: The Air Force Technology Challenge

Status: Ongoing

 

Problem Statement:

The use of technological challenges and cash prizes are known to spur rapid, low-cost innovation in a variety of fields (see http://www.challenge.gov). Yet, the Air Force’s use of these acquisition methods has historically been limited to small-scale efforts in areas that are not germane to the Air Force’s core mission. In general, challenge-based acquisitions refers to a competitive process by which an award is given to the organization(s) that achieve or exceed a specified capability within a given timeframe. This is distinctly different from traditional acquisitions that focus on paper-based proposals in determining source selections. Challenge-based acquisitions can be executed as a series of technical milestones that are used to down-select offerors to an ultimate awardee (an example is NASA’s most recent competition for crew and cargo launch services to the International Space Station). Alternately, the challenge can be a cash prize for the first organization(s) to demonstrate a singular capability (an example is DARPA’s Red Balloon Challenge). The Air Force Technology Challenge aims to demonstrate a variety of challenge-based acquisitions of sufficient scope to ultimately affect the acquisition of major weapon systems.

 

Project Description:

As a starting point, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) launched the Air Force Turbine Prize in May 2015 (see http://www.airforceprize.com). The purpose of this competition is to spur innovation in mid-sized turbine engine technologies, which may ultimately be used in a variety of military and commercial applications. Mid-sized turbine engines will result in a doubling of fuel efficiency and ten-fold improvement in lifecycle costs relative to engines currently available. AFRL is offering $2 million to the first organization that can effectively demonstrate this capability. This is the largest prize competition offered by a military service. Lessons learned from this effort are being used to design larger, more complex challenge-based competitions for the future.