In a Request for Information — https://beta.sam.gov/opp/65c412d7879841d7a8d097db4c8b4735/view — released on 3 June and with responses due on 15 July 2020, the Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), in support of the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance/Special Operations Forces (ISR/SOF) Directorate, is seeking information in support of market research for potential improved solutions of future Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) ISR/Strike capabilities.
The formal RFI is here – https://beta.sam.gov/api/prod/opps/v3/opportunities/resources/files/f90a4210ab4d40f4911625501b37e7fd/download?api_key=null&token= – and the industry-requested information is excerpted below.
AFLCMC/WII Medium Altitude UAS Division is requesting information on three Focus Areas (FAs) for this RFI. Interested parties are encouraged to provide responses in all three areas; however, a response to all three areas is not required. Information provided will need to answer each applicable FA in its entirety, if possible. The three FAs are described below:
Focus Area #1 (FA.1) – Future Medium Altitude UAS ISR/Strike Solutions
o What are potential Medium Altitude UAS ISR/Strike solutions currently in development or already developed, that can be geared towards the advanced technologies of the 2018 NDS principles (Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Digital Engineering, Open Mission Systems (OMS) and Attritable Technology)? Solutions from the commercial marketplace that are scalable to a military platform are highly encouraged. Request responses identify solutions (both hardware and software, to include independent algorithms with relevant capability) at the system, sub-system, or component level, for one, some, or all of the following Lines of Effort (LOEs):
LOE.1 – Air Vehicle
LOE.2 – Automated ISR Sensors & Data Exploitation
LOE.3 – Ground Control Stations/Systems/Suites
Note: Solutions shall be available for operational use by the dates specified in paragraph 2.1. Additionally, solutions shall incorporate as many relevant 2018 NDS advanced technologies (i.e. OMS) as possible to increase combat effectiveness.
Provide overall status of the program, including but not limited to: significant test activities accomplished/not-accomplished, expected date of fielding or asset availability for operational use, and expected production capacity (if any).
A high-level schedule identifying the program’s key milestones is requested.
Provide a summary of capabilities and features of the proposed solution(s)
For system level solutions, responses must be able to address how the solution would function as a complete, comprehensive system. Note: A complete system refers to not just the air vehicle, but also the infrastructure required to operate the vehicle (i.e., data link, ground
control station, ground data/SATCOM terminals, Comms/Data network, etc.).
For sub-system and component level solutions, responses must be able to articulate how the solution(s) supports the ISR/Strike mission.
Provide the method by which the solution was or is funded (i.e., internal R&D funding, government contracts, or cost share agreements).
Provide high-level cost information for production (i.e., cost per unit) and sustainment (i.e., cost per operating hour) of the proposed solution. Furthermore, if additional development is required, provide high-level development cost information by quarter. FA.1-4 Note: Due to the current fiscal constraint environment, interested parties are highly encouraged to propose solutions of reduced life-cycle cost.
Focus Area #2 (FA.2) – Innovative Development & Business Practices
o What innovative development practices/techniques can be employed to integrate and/or further advance state of the art technologies for UAS platforms supporting USAF ISR/Strike missions? Request responses identify solutions that address a complete, comprehensive system.
Provide best approach to integrate advanced technologies into a single platform through the implementation of Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) principles. Interested parties may leverage technologies from other programs as deemed necessary. FA.2-1
Interested parties are encouraged to consider/assume the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Skyborg program as the primary UAS autonomous baseline solution.
o What innovative business practices/techniques can be employed to further amplify the commercial knowledge base for development activities in a competitive environment?
Provide best approach to maximize competition while widening the commercial knowledge base. FA.2-2
Interested parties are encouraged to consider a Systems Design Agent (SDA) and/or a Weapons Design Agent (WDA) approach previously adapted by other USAF organizations. A proposed solution that considers a Multiple-SDA (M-SDA) approach is ideal to maximize commercial knowledge base across multiple entities, as well as striving for a “best-of-breed” solution.
o What innovative business practices/techniques can be employed to further amplify the commercial base for ISR services in a competitive environment?
Provide potential solutions for commercialized ISR services to DoD. FA.2-3
Focus Area #3 (FA.3) – Digital Engineering Initiatives
o What early risk reduction Digital Engineering related initiatives are available to help reduce programmatic risk? Testing and experimentation of virtual prototypes in a multi-physics digital ecosystem are of primary interest.
Provide best approach to conduct early risk reduction activities in a digital environment. FA.3-1
Initiatives provided are anticipated to be at the sub-system or component level in the early stages of development relative to the Hunter-Killer mission set, however system level initiatives are also
accepted. Areas of interest are as follows, but not limited to: autonomy, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
Interested parties are highly encouraged to provide digital solution initiatives that are in agreement with the latest DoD Digital Engineering Strategy and fully compatible with the foreseen Air Force Digital Enterprise Environment framework. Solutions should also be in agreement with the Air Force Model Based Systems Engineering Environment and concur with foreseen Air Force Digital Engineering Ecosystem approach.