Several mission groups make up the U.S. Air Force such as information superiority, precision engagement, and rapid global mobility.

With these clear missions and the Department of Defense’s projected budget of $733 billion, the Air Force is actively seeking out private sector technology to support its objectives.

The Air Force launched five opportunities for tech companies to solve the problems it’s facing, and tech companies from Dcode’s programs are getting in on the action.

AFWERX Revolutionizing Pilot Training Challenge

Problem: The Air Force was short 2,000 pilots and needed to train new aviators faster — but with the same quality.

Action: The Air Force launched the Pilot Training Next initiative. The challenge set out to find the right set of solutions and was prepared to invest up to $300K for the next pilot training cohort. Depending on the outcome, the winning tech solutions have the potential to reach $100M or more in contracts over time, if the Air Force decides to redesign the pilot training program altogether.

Solution: Dcode alumni company Stardog.

Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Hyperspace Challenge

Problem: The Air Force is interested in leveraging geospatial data analytics to build amazing new capabilities for the defense community.

Action: The Air Force Research Lab Hyperspace Challenge set out to connect tech startups with defense users to address some of the community’s most pressing problems and accelerate innovation through rapid acquisition and contracting opportunities.

Solution: Dcode alumni company Enview.

Air Force Dual-Use Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Problem: The Air Force, in partnership with AFWERX, released an open call to explore proven commercial technological areas and solutions for potential use in the Air Force.

Action: The Phase I award (over the course of three months) offered a maximum award of $75K, and if successful, Phase II offered a  maximum award of $750K.

Solution: Four Dcode alumni companies: CryptoMove, Enview, Hivemapper, and Thresher.

Air Force Pitch Day

Problem:  The Air Force wants to innovate, but awarding a contract and paying a company can take the Air Force over 120 days, which could break some small companies.

Action: The Air Force launched its first-ever Pitch Day, where tech companies had just 15 minutes to pitch their ideas and demonstrate how their technology could impact Air Force missions. The unique challenge resulted in 51 contracts that same day.

Solution: Dcode alumni company Enview.

Bringing AI Into Space Surveillance

Problem: The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded Los Angeles-based Slingshot Aerospace a $6 million two-year contract to customize the company’s Orbital Atlas predictive space situational awareness software for possible military use.

Action: The commercially developed Orbital Atlas “will enable warfighters to pivot from traditional space situational awareness focusing on space catalog maintenance toward a more tactical, predictive solution.”

Solution: Dcode alumni company Slingshot Aerospace.

The Air Force is setting a strong example of working with commercial tech companies, and companies that have completed the Dcode program are uniquely positioned and ready to win innovative Air Force contracts.

With both sides of the equation — government and commercial tech — we’re bringing new and innovative solutions into government to better achieve mission objectives.  

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