Members of the Air Combat Command Federal Laboratory, test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, and software developers from the 309th Software Engineering Group achieved several milestones on an in-flight F-22 Raptor.
Members of the Air Combat Command Federal Laboratory, test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, and software developers from the 309th Software Engineering Group achieved several milestones on an in-flight F-22 Raptor, on Aug. 24, 2022.
According to a an Air Combat Command news release, the achievement is the first instance of third-party software running on a fifth-generation fighter and the first in-flight use of open-source container orchestration software on any fighter aircraft.
Fifth-generation fighter aircraft are historically unavailable to third-party software integration. To fix this problem and lower the barriers to entry, the team built and flight-tested their new Open Systems Enclave, or OSE, consisting of a government-owned software architecture with existing on-board hardware. This new enclave proved it can rapidly integrate new technologies from first line of code to flight in less than 60 days. In recognition of this value proposition, there is now a formal requirement for the establishment of OSE on F-22 at the direction of the chief of F-22 requirements.
“This breakthrough fundamentally changes how we can deliver combat capability to the warfighter,” said Maj. Allen Black, F-22 test pilot and project co-lead. “We’ve proven the ability to rapidly evaluate and integrate next-generation technologies developed by experts in government, industry, and academia at a lower cost with software portability across defense platforms.”
Established in 2018, the ACC Federal Laboratory functions under the Office of the Chief Scientist and operates with a vision to summon and coalesce a “Confluence of Warfighters, Developers, and Acquirers” while bridging advanced technologies with fielded weapon systems. The result is an inspired defense industrial base with intellectual property protection and increased safeguards to mission critical systems.
This confluence model quickly proved its worth in 2020 by achieving a Defense Department first in artificial intelligence when human-AI teaming was flown with an AI copilot, “Artuµ.”
The lab changed public policy in 2021 and established the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s 20th Laboratory Accreditation Program known as Federal Warfare Systems. NIST accreditation standardizes the competence, impartiality, and operational consistency of Federal Laboratories of this type in the DoD, providing senior leaders with published policy to sanction and underwrite this activity.
The ACC Federal Laboratory is uniquely positioned to leverage the space left of formal requirements, where technologies vital to all air power systems can be matured, verified and validated in comparable technical and operational environments.
Ultimately, this milestone shines a bright future for software acquisition in the DoD, one where apps are rapidly developed, matured and delivered to the warfighter at the push of a button. Initially working with F-22 Program Office as an early adopter of OSE, the team is evaluating and integrating several candidate combat capabilities as cross-platform solutions.
“We must build an enduring advantage for our force,” said Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command. “This ‘bring the future faster’ initiative allows us to rapidly discover and iterate on combat capabilities and stay relevant with cutting-edge technology and affordably accelerate change in delivering combat Air Force capabilities as an enterprise.”
Lockheed Martin is focused on the F-22’s connectivity with other platforms in support of the Air Force’s Joint All-Domain Operations strategy. When it comes to open systems architecture and digital engineering, there is no better example than the F-22 Raptor.
The company is committed to providing higher readiness rates, faster response and lower life-cycle cost to the US Air Force. Through Follow-on Agile Sustainment, a comprehensive weapons management program and an award-winning performance-based logistics (PBL) contract, we provide a highly integrated F-22 support system.
The key to F-22 sustainment is integration. Lockheed Martin’s strategic partnership with the USAir Force helps to merge highly complex sustainment activities into one unified operation. This integration allows for greater efficiency, lower cost, and enhanced responsiveness to the needs of the operators and maintainers in the field.
Photo credit: Chase Kohler / U.S. Air Force