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Winners of ACC Spark Tank 2023 competition announced

  • Published
  • By Lemuel Casillas
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Air Combat Command leadership announced winners of the ACC Spark Tank 2023 competition today. 

Spark Tank cultivates a culture of forward-thinking and innovation to help the Air Force streamline processes by empowering Airmen to find innovative solutions to fix the processes within their unit and the command. 

The ACC winners were selected after presenting their innovative ideas along with other top submissions from around the command. The ACC finalists’ ideas will be submitted to DAF Spark Tank, where they will compete against winners from other major commands. Two additional teams will move ahead to the challenge as wildcard entries.

The ACC winners are: 

Airspace Optimization Application (AOA), submitted by Maj. Michael Shaw the 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base

AOA addresses an antiquated process that required manual accounting and deconflicting to schedule limited airspace for world class training events resulting in less-than-optimal airspace allocation. The process requires hours of manual formatting, compiling and distribution of the airspace, and reduces training and test effectiveness

AOA is an artificial intelligence web-based application that compiles airspace requests into a central database that automatically allocates airspace based on user priorities and needs. Years of data for this platform exist to digest and identify trends while optimizing airspace allocations beyond the capability of a human scheduler. This platform will alleviate the need to spend 90% of time collecting/formatting airspace requests and allow schedulers to focus on areas of conflict that the platform has identified.

Mercury West – Emulate Signal/Target Training Network (ES/TTN), submitted by Mr. Raymond Durban, 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, Hurlburt Field

Mercury West – ES/TTN addresses Remote Command and Control (C2) of real-world target devices on the training range that require robust and realistic training to qualify operators and sustain lethality. The unit has minimal manpower to act as OPFOR or resources to man equipment on the ground and cover only a segment of daily training activities Training profiles are limited in scope and realism due to the inability to accurately simulate the enemy environment. The limiting factors (LIMFACs) result in lost training events.

To mitigate some of these LIMFACs, the 25 IS developed and prototyped emulation devices to simulate enemy activity such as RF communications, lights, heat signatures and ground movement providing a more realistic scenario for aircrew and ground forces. Emulation devices are controlled through a plug-in, allowing multiple scenarios to be pre-built and executed on a set schedule or outside trigger. A scenario could also be changed or updated allowing flexibility as needed by an instructor, operator, or other outside entity through control of the training devices during the event and monitored remotely in a JOC (Joint Operations Center) setting or while airborne. 

In addition to the winners two additional teams will move ahead to the challenge as wildcard entries while seven remaining NAF-nominated ideas will be assisted and tracked through the ACC Innovation Working Group, Board, and Council until completion

DAF Wild Card voting, called Token Voting, is currently open and ongoing through 31 Oct 22. Airmen at all levels are encouraged to logon to the Guardians and Airmen Innovation Network (GAIN) platform and vote for their favorite ideas, especially the two ACC ideas still in the Wild Card competition:

Vital Beacon for Personnel Recovery, 57th Wing, Nellis AFB, NV

Automated Intelligent Refueling System (AIRS), 319th Reconnaissance Wing, Grand Forks AFB, ND

The top six vote-getters in Wild Card voting will also join the DAF competition as quarter finalists.  Token Voting link: https://gain.il4.afwerx.dso.mil/daf/spark-tank-2023-finals/wildcardtokenvoting