The U.S. Air Force Strategic Development Planning & Experimentation Office, alongside the Naval Surface Warfare Center took steps forward in April toward making the Air Force’s new Precision, Navigation and Timing (PNT) concept of operations a reality as it demonstrated fused PNT technologies within an Agilepod during six successful Phase I sorties on an airborne testbed in Centennial, Colorado, and successfully fit-tested the configuration on a T-38 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, ahead of planned Phase II flight tests in August.
According to Maj. Andy Cottle, SDPE’s Operational Experimentation Lead for Complementary-PNT, the Centennial sorties explored a concept of operations developed by Air Force Futures aimed to rethink the Services’ approach to PNT by adapting open software architectures with existing PNT technologies like Vision Navigation (VisNav), Signals of Opportunity (SoOP) and magnetic anomaly navigation (MAGNAV). He explained that the sorties successfully demonstrated that a fused VisNav/SoOP system could perform within the reconfigurable AgilePodâ„¢ throughout a wide range of aircraft and environmental conditions.
Cottle stated that the Centennial tests were just the first phase in a series of flight tests aimed to rapidly explore the operational utility of this concept, adding that during the tests, the team will also assess the MAGNAV technology for potential incorporation in future tests. He added that in another important milestone, the team completed a successful fit-check of the AgilePodâ„¢ on a T-38 to prepare for Phase II flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base with the 586th Flight Test Squadron in August.
SDPE is a small office of about 15 directly supporting Department of the Air Force and Air Force Futures capability development as a technology agnostic honest broker. The office reports to the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) commander and receives its taskings directly from AF Futures and Air Force senior leaders. It resides organizationally within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) alongside a sister office, the Transformational Capabilities Office (TCO).
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development.