AFWERX to highlight new Spark Tank finalists at AFA Warfare Symposium

  • Published
  • By Rob Bardua
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force will host an exhibit featuring some of the latest developments from each of its divisions – AFVentures, Prime, Spark, and SpaceWERX - at the Air and Space Forces Association’s Warfare Symposium Feb. 12-14, 2024, at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado.

Visitors who stop by booth 703 will be able to see displays about several new programs including recent advancements in technology and weapon systems, speak with subject matter experts and get more information on AFWERX’s mission.

Representatives from the six Spark Tank finalists will also be on-hand to discuss their proposals. Championed by the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force Management, or SAF/MG, and AFWERX, Spark Tank is an annual competition in which innovators from across the Department of the Air Force make a pitch to a panel of top leadership and industry experts in pursuit of sponsorship to realize their idea. The finalist teams joining the AFWERX booth include:
  • F-16 Cockpit Collapsible ACE Ladder – F-16 pilots often encounter increased safety risks when asked to fly to austere locations without pre-positioned equipment for pilot egress/ingress. The 31st Fighter Wing developed a collapsible ladder that can be stored inside the aircraft’s unused cockpit map case. This development increases flexibility, saves time, and is 65% less expensive than a legacy ladder.
  • Flyways Defender for Airspace Awareness and Defense – The current operating picture application relies on human inputs, leading to potential errors and less-than- optimal decisions. However, integrating Flyways Defender’s Artificial Intelligence platform would streamline decisions to detect, assess, and alert threats faster, which reduces the decision-making timeline and expedites Homeland Defense protection measures.
  • LoadPlan+ – Medical evacuation crews are currently using error-prone hard copy load plans that prevent accurate communication, delay patient transport, and limit focus on patient care. The 60 Air Expeditionary Squadron/60 Air Maintenance Wing’s proposed  interactive load plan application is an automated digital load plan app that accelerates load times for patients and cargo by generating premade load plans based on mission requirements, allowing flight medics to increase focus on patient assessments and life-threatening injuries.
  • Autonomous Flightline Resupply Vehicles – Over 300,000 man-hours are wasted due to parts and supply displacement, which increases aircraft downtime. The proposed solution is to leverage commercially proven available technology to build autonomous supply vehicles for maintainers. This will allow the Department of the Air Force to redirect those 300,000 man-hours into getting planes in the air as well as increasing safety for flightline personnel.
  • Project Lavoy – Air Force Medics currently do not have the ability to perform whole blood transfusions in the field. Project Lavoy would equip medics with comprehensive training, supplies, and sustainment for whole blood transfusions in the field, which would increase life-saving capabilities to meet Operational needs.
  • CyberAssess – An Authorization to Operate, or ATO, typically takes 18-24 months to complete, which gives our adversaries an advantage. CyberAssess is a cloud-based workflow application that would simplify complex data-gathering for the ATO package using understandable workflows, which reduces the ATO prep time to as little as six months and boosts the productivity of the limited cybersecurity staff.
According to Kathy Reid, AFWERX Spark division deputy, the theme of this year’s Air Warfare Symposium “Preparing for Great Conflict, is what AFWERX is all about.
“AFWERX is focused on the ‘Great Power Competition,’ and that is what drives us to prioritize impactful ideas, act on concept execution with urgency, and validate the objectives of every innovation,” said Reid. “We invite those attending AFA to stop by the AFWERX booth to learn more about our mission, interact with Airmen from the top six projects selected as the Spark Tank 2024 finalists, and post your vote for fan favorite in real-time!”
About AFRL  
The Air Force Research Laboratory 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 12,500 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. For more information, visit
As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 4,697 new contracts worth more than $2.6 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: