WASHINGTON ― A U.S. Air Force event is providing small businesses with more opportunities to refine their technology.
A public webinar on the new Tech Warrior Enterprise will take place Dec. 6 at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Small Business Hub in Dayton, Ohio. This event is similar to an annual event held earlier this fall, testing new innovations in Air Force readiness and battlefield effectiveness.
In September, the Tech Warrior exercise ― conducted by the lab and sponsored by the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs ― consisted of simulations with at least 20 technology integrations and demonstrations. It allowed Air Force Research Lab scientists to observe and sometimes even simulate being a war fighter. Small businesses gathered feedback from their peers at the lab and pushed the limits of promising new systems by integrating them in an appropriate setting.
Participants undergo five days of training in combat first aid, perimeter defense, rescue operations, field operations and other related aspects. This is followed by a three-day capstone field training exercise, which enables participants to test their skills in disaster response, air base defense and combat rescue.
“Tech Warrior has two objectives,” Lt. Col. David Shahady, the exercise commander, said in a statement. “First, we want to teach our participants what it is to be a warfighter. We run them through a series of training and events just to have them walk in the shoes of the warfighter. At the same time we’re doing all that, we bring out technologies and try to push innovation and see how those technologies would work in a real warfighting environment.
“This year we had no issues whatsoever because we were able to monitor participants real-time and see when someone was actually becoming dehydrated and pull them to rehydrate themselves. Going from 10 people who had dehydration issues to zero is very exciting and a really good demonstration of our technology maturing.”
Cathy Thompson, a production manager at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, learned of the exercise via email and attended.
“This has exceeded all my expectations,” she said. “They’ve exercised us as accurately as possible in a training environment. We’ve had the full field conditions experience here. This is my first opportunity to see how a deployment is, and I wanted to come and see what the warfighter actually goes through while they’re down range.
“Now I can go back and support the idea of others coming here to support [the Air Force Research Laboratory] in testing these new technologies.”
Thompson recommended that anyone affiliated with the Air Force participate in the program.
“I think everybody, when they first get hired by the Air Force should participate in a simulated deployment like this,” she said. “It would help you get a better understanding of why that person needs that part, why they need a certain type of helmet, why they need whatever they need, you will have a better understanding after walking a mile in their shoes.”