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Accelerating the pace of innovation with the US Air Force

The challenge

The accelerated pace of technology innovation and efforts by adversaries to leapfrog US capabilities has strained traditional acquisition models used by the Air Force. The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (DAF RCO) was established to outpace the speed of emerging threats. Specifically, the office expedites development and fielding of select Department of Defense combat support and weapon systems; leverages defense-wide technology development efforts and existing operational capabilities; provides integration and technical support to other Service or US Government activities; conducts independent operational and technical assessments of weapon or combat support system capabilities and vulnerabilities; and takes on new challenges to accelerate operationally-focused capabilities.

Serco has played a role in supporting some of DAF RCO's signature accomplishments, including developing the next-generation B-21 Raider stealth bomber and the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (a reusable unmanned space test vehicle), along with numerous other highly classified critical national security capabilities and systems. 

Our solution

Department of the Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office is addressing some of the nation's highest-priority capabilities gaps; its mandate is to shrink the time horizon of projects moving from concepts to fielded systems. Serco provides the DAF RCO with subject-matter experts who are deeply versed in acquisition strategy development, source selections, acquisition program baseline implementations, acquisition program management, Agile development, systems engineering, and basing and concept of operations. We have helped the office reinvent the process to define essential capabilities, accelerate the decision-making and gate review path, and streamline documentation to collaborate with industry partners. The office has established a reputation for turning around high-profile capabilities that had stalled out using traditional procurement methods.

The DAF RCO's lean staffing model and ambitious agenda attract "some of the best and the brightest military and civilian resources with a tremendous commitment to the mission," noted Alex Brown, who oversees the program for Serco. Serco's agile staffing model allows DAF RCO to tap into "previous senior officers in the military or senior civil servants, and others with very specialized skills and expertise that are difficult to find. This model allows the lean teams at DAF RCO to fight way above their weight class."

Based on the success of this model, the DAF RCO has continued to expand the portfolio of programs managed under its responsibility to now manage 13 Major Defense Acquisition Program-equivalent efforts, each of which represents a very large acquisition program. The program continues to operate with a very small team that prioritizes collaboration and avoids decision gridlock. Serco’s support has been instrumental in enabling the DAF RCO to continue to operate with small, highly effective, lean teams. 

Serco's agile staffing model allows DAF RCO to tap into previous senior officers in the military or senior civil servants, and others with very specialized skills and expertise that are difficult to find. This model allows the lean teams at DAF RCO to fight way above their weight class.

Alex Brown
Master Scheduler

Outcomes that matter

Serco has played a role in supporting some of DAF RCO's signature accomplishments, including developing the next-generation B-21 Raider stealth bomber and the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (a reusable unmanned space test vehicle), along with numerous other highly classified critical national security capabilities and systems. 

In addition to the many classified programs in the DAF RCO portfolio, the office was recently tasked with taking over the management and development of the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS).  According to the Air Force, ABMS is the service's overarching effort encompassing new technologies, operational concepts and requirements, and integration of ongoing warfighter efforts to enable more rapid and effective information sharing. The DAF RCO team is working to move ABMS from a theoretical concept and disparate development efforts and demonstrations to pursue more focused capability delivery with real-world operational testing, capitalizing on the DAF RCO's streamlined acquisition approach. 

Based on this success, Serco’s team collaborated with the Army to establish the Army Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office to deliver next-generation technologies to address urgent, emerging threats in areas including laser, high-power microwave, and hypersonic weapons. They also worked with the US Space Forces’ Space Rapid Capabilities Office to leverage the subject matter expertise from DAF RCO.  Serco and the DAF RCO SMEs have worked to "export" the rapid acquisition principles to other Air Force and DoD commands to help them use existing authorities to accelerate the development of new critical new capabilities and get them into the hands of warfighters in a fraction of the time.

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