GovConWire’s Air Force: IT Plans and Priorities Forum will feature Lauren Knausenberger, deputy chief information officer of the U.S. Air Force, as the keynote speaker. During her address, she will discuss how the industry can progress the latest initiative across the Air Force. “IT is the foundation on which we do everything else,” Knausenberger stated.
Jeff Bohling, senior vice president and general manager of Perspecta’s Civilian & Defense Group, will moderate Knausenberger’s address. Following Knausenberger’s keynote address, an expert panel, moderated by Susan Lawrence, managing director of Accenture Federal Services’ (AFS) Armed Forces portfolio, will take the stage to address the Air Force’s modernization.
The digital Air Force Initiative is an effort to leverage data and applications at the edge, along with artificial intelligence and machine learning, to “field a 21st century infrastructure responsive to the demands of modern combat.”
As the service branch continues to innovate to current with the shifting environment, the Air Force has leveraged new tactics to increase cybersecurity, modernize IT framework and launch new platforms that support emerging technologies.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the Department of Defense (DoD) has made major technical and cultural shifts away from previous business models to support network modernization across the force.
One of the Air Force’s top priorities is the launch of the Digital University. The U.S. Air Force has projected to launch its Digital University by the end of 2020, which will enhance training for front-line IT and cybersecurity workers.
The online university has been made available to airmen in a beta version, and will develop its catalog of courses to upskill the workforce. The Digital University was developed as a part of the “Digital Air Force” strategy.
The strategy was developed to consolidate IT networks and increase the technical acumen across the entire department. Business and Enterprise Systems Product Innovation (BESPIN) will host the beta version.
In addition to the Digital University, the U.S. Air Force has worked to modernize training platforms across the force. In Dec. 2020, the U.S. Air Force announced its plans to roll out an artificial intelligence-driven virtual training system for remote pilot exercises in 2021.
The Joint Immersive Training System will augment and integrate virtual reality, AI, machine learning and commercial off-the-shelf equipment to support training activities for fixed-wing aircraft, remotely pilot aircraft and helicopters.
Lt. Col. Eric Frahm, program manager for the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), said the DoD component is looking to deploy 50 JTS devices to Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Randolph AFB in Texas for T-38 and T-6 trainer aircraft.
“Our team will collect detailed feedback from everyday instructors and students to understand how the system performs for them,” he said. “In the end, we want a system that will be flexible, adaptable, scalable and speeds the rate of competency attainment within our pilot force.”
Will Roper, assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics at the U.S. Air Force and a three-time Wash100 Award winner, recently stated that the service branch must hack the federal procurement system to be relevant and one way to do that is by reassessing current acquisition regulations.
Roper said he is working with financial management offices and the general counsel on a new memo to add more flexibility to one-year funding for operations and maintenance of systems, also known as 3400 money.
“I don’t think the original envision of different colors of money was not to allow us to do common sense things. It’s to operate and sustain. I think the implication is operate and sustain relevant things. If you are creating a completely new bomber instead of sustaining your old one, you’ve crossed the line and you know that,” Roper said.
During GovConWire’s Air Force: IT Plans and Priorities Forum, notable federal and industry leaders will discuss digital Air Force Strategies, IT spending, new modernization initiatives and advanced cybersecurity practices that will enable the Air Force to stay up to speed across the defense landscape.