A B-52H Stratofortress prepares to take off from Barksdale Air Force Base. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathan E. Ramos
At a recent Subcommittee on Strategic Forces hearing on budget requests for Department of Defense Nuclear Weapons Programs, the Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), four-star Gen. Thomas Bussiere, highlighted efforts to promote innovation and solve challenges within AFGSC.
Gen. Bussiere testified that AFGSC created a Commercial Capabilities Integration and Transition (CCIT) program 18 months ago with the help of Congress. The CCIT ensures that AFGSC can integrate the best and most innovative technologies into their strategic warfighting arsenal. The program is an evolution of a Shreveport-based pilot initiative led by two-star Air Force Gen. Jason Armagost. Under his and Gen. Bussiere’s leadership, the CCIT has worked closely with BRF to bring technology solutions to the Air Force via its collaborative effort with BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP).
Through technology scouting and analysis, CCIT has been successful in pairing Air Force challenges with private sector solutions, allowing startups and small businesses to directly connect with customers within AFGSC. Potential solutions are assessed and validated for AFGSC’s key challenges. BRF’s EAP, a business accelerator serving innovative startups with high-growth potential, provides financial analysis and business services when a company applies via CCIT to provide their capabilities to AFGSC.
In its pilot year, the effort led by CCIT screened over 300 technology companies, resulting in over three dozen companies receiving Air Force contracts totaling $80 million to research, test, evaluate and, if successful, adopt the companies’ technologies for AFGSC defense use. CCIT often utilizes the Air Force’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts program to put new companies on contract. Additionally, many of these companies, once on Air Force contracts, can leverage their SBIR contracts to receive additional private investments to advance their work with AFGSC.
“CCIT, now an official AFGSC division due to the program’s success, will work to produce innovative, dual-use technologies for the Air Force at an even larger scale,” said BRF President and CEO John F. George Jr., M.D. “One example of its success is the CCIT’s work with Shreveport-based Outerlink Global Communications, which now has a contract to bring their advanced satellite communication system, IRIS, to the B-52 Bomber. Another local company, ARCHEM, currently with office spaces at BRF, is on contract to develop a non-carcinogenic fuel additive, which will give the B-52 greater fuel efficiency and allow it to fly at higher altitudes, out of the range of enemy Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) and enemy hand-held Surface-to-Air Missiles.”
Since the CCIT program’s beginning in 2021, over 200 high-paying Northwest Louisiana jobs have been created by companies engaging with AFGSC.
“At BRF and EAP, our defense mission is to build a regional defense industry cluster in Northwest Louisiana to promote innovation and solve Air Force challenges while enhancing the economic vitality of the region and state,” George said. “For every $1 of appropriations awarded to AFGSC in 2022 for this innovation effort, $3.56 of Air Force invested capital went to companies generating jobs, research and economic impact in Northwest Louisiana for a total impact of $132 million.”
“Our partnership with the CCIT and our already robust network of innovative companies here in Northwest Louisiana and beyond are working to ensure that the Air Force has continued access to cutting edge technologies and the best commercial solutions,” said Dave Smith, EAP Executive Director. “The technologies we have already seen come out of this effort, many of which were first used by AFGSC right here in Northwest Louisiana, are now also being deployed across the U.S. Air Force and other areas for our nation’s defense.”
BRF, headquartered in Shreveport, is an innovation hub and economic development organization establishing North Louisiana as a preferred destination for high-growth initiatives. Diversifying the region’s economy is its mission. It fulfills this mission through initiatives that start new businesses, recruit new businesses and retain current businesses in the region, and through supporting the development of a science and technology-based workforce.