Air Force Department Announces Fourth Vanguard Program> US Air Force> Post Display
The Air Force Department announced on June 4 the designation of Rocket Cargo as the fourth Vanguard program under its transformational science and technology portfolio identified in the Scientific and technological strategy DAF 2030 for the next decade. In addition, the US space force was designated as Rocket Cargo Vanguard’s primary service, marking the service’s first such program.
Under the Rocket Cargo Vanguard, the Air Force Research Laboratory will lead a science and technology effort to determine the viability and utility of using large commercial rockets for the Department of Defense’s global logistics, potentially expanding the portfolio of capabilities that the USSF presents to combat commanders. the Space and Missile Systems Center will act as the program manager.
AFRL will research and develop the unique aspects necessary to take advantage of the new commercial capability for the DoD logistics mission. This includes the ability to land a rocket on a wide range of non-traditional materials and surfaces, including remote locations. In addition, AFRL scientists and engineers will research the ability to safely land a rocket near personnel and structures, design a rocket bay and logistics for rapid loading and unloading, and drop cargo from the rocket after reentry in order to serve where a rocket or plane cannot land.
“The Air Force has provided rapid global mobility for decades and Rocket Cargo is a new way for the Department to explore complementary capabilities for the future,” said the Acting Secretary of the Air Force. John Roth. “Vanguard initiatives lead to groundbreaking advancements that preserve our edge over our close competitors, and this latest addition is also a milestone as the first Vanguard evaluated under Space Force oversight. “
Based on the commercial capacity and the announced commercial objectives, AFRL is currently evaluating the emerging capacity of rockets across the commercial supplier base and its potential use for the rapid transport of DoD material to ports around the world.
“The Rocket Cargo Vanguard is a clear example of how the Space Force is developing innovative solutions as a service, particularly the ability to provide independent options in, from and to space,” said the chief operating officer. space. General John W. “Jay” Raymond. “Once completed, Rocket Cargo will fundamentally change the landscape of rapid logistics, connecting materiel to joint combatants in a fraction of the time it takes today. In the event of conflict or humanitarian crisis, the Space Force will be able to provide our national leaders with an independent option to achieve strategic objectives from space.
The delivery of goods by rocket is not a new concept. Historically, high launch costs have been prohibitive for a logistics-driven application, and the relatively low payload capacity limited the types of cargo that could be delivered, also limiting its suitability. Today, several commercial companies are rapidly generating new opportunities by developing large rockets and reusable stages that land safely on earth, increasing cargo capacity and dramatically reducing launch costs.
“Rapid logistics underpin our ability to project power,” said General Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., commander of Air Force Materiel Command. “This is the fundamental motivation for launching the Rocket Cargo program. We are seeing its first applications in rapidly restoring the operational capability of forward forces in austere environments, as well as dramatically reducing the time required to deliver critical humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
As part of the new Rocket Cargo Vanguard, the DAF will seek to capitalize on these commercial advances and position the DoD as an early adopter of the new commercial capability. This approach is a marked departure from the past, when the US government led the development of rocket technology and bore the brunt of the costs. Today, with commercial space launch providers developing the advanced rockets, DAF will invest primarily in the S&T needed to quickly scale the capacity to DoD logistics missions, and then be the first customer to procure the new commercial capacity through service leasing contracts.
The military utility of the new capability includes supporting the United States Transportation Command refueling mission. AFRL is working closely with USTRANSCOM to assess the commercial space of Rocket Cargo’s potential capacity for global logistics, including potential improvements in costs and speed of delivery over existing air cargo operations. Potential mission applications include special airlift to deliver the equipment needed to quickly restore lost mission operations, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief payloads in disaster areas.
Rocket Cargo joins three current Vanguard programs, including Skyborg (a central autonomy system in a low cost, attriable unmanned aerial platform to enable autonomous operations); NTS-3 (a flight experience to examine and implement capabilities across ground, space and user segments to improve spatial positioning, navigation and synchronization); and Golden Horde (an initiative to demonstrate collaborative autonomous array weapons by creating an integrated weapon system where different technologies work together to defeat targets).
Vanguard programs rapidly advance emerging weapon systems and combat concepts through prototyping and experimentation. With these programs, the DAF aims to provide revolutionary new operational capabilities that provide combatants with superior advantages on the battlefield over the next decade.