As the Department of the Air Force’s Spark Tank program enters its fifth year, it is again poised to highlight the creative and innovative spirit amongst our Airmen and Guardians.
The Air and Space Force vice chiefs, along with other senior leaders across both services, selected six ideas to advance.
The finals will be held at the Air Force Association’s Aerospace Warfare Symposium as senior leaders decide who will be declared winner of Spark Tank ’22 and take possession of the coveted 3D printed Spark Tank trophy.
The 411th Flight Test Squadron’s Maj. Allen Black, Assistant Director of Operations, was named as one of the six finalists for his work with the F-22 Raptor Fighter Optimization Experiment, or FOX.
“It is an honor to represent Edwards AFB at this event and we would not have had this opportunity if it was not for the tremendous support of our leadership as well as the phenomenal 412TW Innovation team,” Black said. “We hope to bring the trophy home to The Center of The Aerospace Testing Universe.”
“Project FOX has three core competencies; being Fast, Open, and Cross Platform. Our project’s mission is to establish a government controlled software environment onboard fielded weapon systems that enables sandboxed development for rapid prototyping, iteration, and fielding of new software; third-party applications to bring the unrivaled collective capability of the U.S.’s most advanced and innovative software developers to the warfighter; and cross platform portability to slash costs and time for capability development and fielding. Ultimately, we are working to deliver the warfighter better capabilities — cheaper and faster,” Black explained.
As the Department’s flagship innovation event, Spark Tank plays a central role in establishing the Department’s strategic mindset for delivering future capabilities. In his 2020 whitepaper titled “Accelerate Change or Lose,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. said, “The United States needs an Air Force that can fly, fight, and win in the air domain as a member of the joint team. In recent years, faced with lesser adversaries, we have taken air superiority for granted, and it is easy to forget that the joint force loses without access to the air and the ability to deny that access to our enemies.”
Similarly, in “Spacepower, Doctrine for Space Forces,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond stated, “As a lean, mission-focused, digital service, the United States Space Force values organizational agility, innovation, and boldness. Elevating these traits starts with empowering small teams and prizing measured risk-taking as opportunities to rapidly learn and adapt. These principles apply equally to operations and day-to-day tasks. The United States Space Force must draw upon these traits to relentlessly advance military space power for the nation.”
“Spark Tank presents each Airman and Guardian with the opportunity to leave a mark of excellence on our core competencies through an improvement or innovation born of their subject matter expertise and ingenuity,” said Brou Gautier, Spark Tank director. “It also affords us occasion to celebrate those risk-takers, idea makers, and intrapreneurs who refused to accept the status quo and developed solutions that advance our capabilities or improve our return on investment in order to inspire more of the same.”
Co-produced by the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, Management Rich Lombardi, and AFWERX, this annual event is designed to unleash our total force innovation capacity, reflecting leadership’s continued efforts to empower intrapreneurs, celebrate their problem-solving skills, and give them a stage to share their ideas with fellow service members, the Department’s senior leaders, and the world. Only the top 3 percent of ideas submitted to the Spark Tank campaign were selected to compete as finalists.
Spark Tank 2022 Finalists:
Blood Delivery by UAV
Maj. Giselle Rieschick
99th Medical Support Squadron
Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Air Combat Command
Time is a critical aspect in combat casualty care. The sooner a combat casualty receives definitive care, particularly within the “golden hour” after injury, the better the chance of survival. The timely availability of blood products within the “golden hour” is essential to saving lives. Recent advancements in the medical use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, highlight the increased efficiency and reduced costs across a number of uses including blood delivery.
Aerial Tow Rehookup – Novel Range Extension
Cadet Grant Schlichting
United States Air Force Academy Cadet Wing
United States Air Force Academy
The Airborne Aircraft Carrier has become a reality. Instead of constraint designs to fit within the mothership, the Aerial Tow Rehookup solution is to tow aircraft behind the mothership. This opens up the design space for aerial recharging of electronic vertical take-off and landing, supersonic towing of various platforms, and towing stealth assets to the frontlines of highly contested environments. This could provide Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance assets to loiter over enemy territory longer and spend less time during ingress and egress.
F-22 Project FoX (Fighter Optimization Experiment)
Maj. Allen Black
412th Test Wing
Edwards AFB, Calif.
Air Force Materiel Command
The F-22 Raptor was recently upgraded with an Open Systems Architecture Rack (OSA) which opens the door to revolutionize the way in which F-22 mission systems are developed and acquired. Project FoX, or the Fighter Optimization Experiment, provides a transformative way to accelerate the delivery of new software capabilities to the aircraft while decreasing the cost by taking a tablet connected to a government interface that puts the aircraft data into a common format. This allows the aircraft to have some of the best applications downloaded that are portable across platforms and provide real test, training, and tactical benefits.
DAGGER: Developing Airmen and Guardians with Games for Enhanced Readiness
Maxwell AFB, Ala.
Air Education and Training Command
DAGGER: Developing Airmen and Guardians with Games for Enhanced Readiness is the application of sound, proven educational practices with game-based learning. It addresses the Air Force Chief of Staff’s Action Order — Airmen to transform the way we deliberately professionally grow our Airmen and Guardians, by building better Airmen and Guardians on Air Force foundational competencies and core values.
Custom Facemasks for Fighter Pilots and Beyond
Maj. Ryan Sheridan
10th Air Base Wing
United States Air Force Academy
Are our pilots struggling with oxygen masks that don’t fit? Where is the line between “fit” and “comfort”? We have the capability, but not the capacity to solve a problem that many warfighters suffer with in silence. Advanced 3D imaging, local design, and rapid prototyping will utilize a robust network infrastructure to align civilian partnerships to support the diverse facial features of our pilots with customized masks to optimize the human weapon system.
Senior Master Sgt. Brent Kenney and Tech Sgt. Matthew Connelly
52nd Fighter Wing
Spangdahlem AB, Germany
United States Air Forces in Europe — Air Forces Africa
Water and power are nonnegotiable when standing up a forward operating location. But it’s not to get fuel and water on location. What if we could generate from thin air? Project Arcwater is an agile combat employment system that aims to significantly decrease the logistics of transporting water and energy needs at off-the-grid locations through solar panels, a water harvester, and AC/heating tool, creating 26 gallons of potable water out of thin air.