Challenge 1, GA-AS Inc., Neff Aeronautics, and DARcorporation (Design, Analysis and Research Corporation, Lawrence, Kansas)

TCO invests $5.9M to explore In-Flight Aerial Rearming

The U. S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Transformational Capabilities Office (TCO), in coordination with the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability (AFWIC), awarded $5.9 million across three contracts to analyze the military utility of in-flight rearming and logistics technologies for conventional and unmanned aerospace platforms.

This transformational technology effort addresses one of three challenges that were identified in support of the Air Force Explore program, a new enterprise that seeks to understand technical solutions to high priority Air Force challenges. The challenge problems were formulated by a partnership comprised of AFRL, AFWIC, and military operators. A broad call drew proposals from all relevant sectors including within the Department of Defense. These seedlings are leveraging new methodologies that quantify military utility using analytics before progressing to developmental and operational testing.

TCO is partnering with DARcorporation (Design, Analysis, and Research Corporation), an aeronautical engineering firm founded in 1991 by Dr. Jan Roskam and Dr. Willem Anemaat, whose mission is to provide integrated aircraft design, development and consulting services. They have worked on numerous government projects, including with the US Air Force, US Navy, and NASA.

DARcorporation, based in Lawrence, KS, was awarded a contract in September 2020 for $1.9M as part of the inaugural Air Force Explore program. The scope of work includes the design and prototyping of a UAV capable of both short take-off and landing (STOL) and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), allowing it to operate in austere or degraded environments. Additionally, the TCO has selected Radiance Technologies as an analytics partner to conduct operational assessments and use-case validation for the DARcorporation UAV.

General Atomics and Neff Technologies were also awarded contracts under this program.