Raytheon Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co. were recently awarded a $400 million contract by the U.S. Air Force for the research and development of its newest aerospace vehicle and technology program.
The Advanced Aerospace Systems Technology Research program (AASTR), as it is formally called, was described briefly in a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) release on April 5, 2023.
According to the Pentagon, the companies were awarded an indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract comprising a shared $400,000,000 ceiling to undertake research and developmental efforts under the new program.
The DoD said multiple awardees were selected and that funding will be distributed across dates spanning an undisclosed period. It was also reported that General Atomics had been among the companies that were awarded the contract.
The AASTR program’s primary objective, according to the brief Pentagon statement, is outlined as an initiative that will “conduct research toward the development, demonstration, integration, and transition of new aerospace vehicle technologies, designs, and integrated systems,” with the primary focus of enhancing the capabilities of the U.S. Air Force and its current arsenal.
Few additional details were provided about the new program in last week’s Pentagon release. The name bears some similarity to earlier program names, including the “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program” (AATIP), originally an unclassified nickname used for a Defense Intelligence Agency program formally called the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Application Program (AAWSAP).
The AATIP moniker was also reportedly used thereafter as the name for an informal Pentagon initiative that was first revealed publicly by the New York Times in 2017. Apart from the passing similarity of their names, however, there is little else suggestive of any continuity between the programs.
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was listed as the contracting activity in the announcement. Established in 1997, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) comprises ten separate subcomponent Technology Directorates, which include the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the sole existing component of the U.S. Air Force’s activities that was subsumed at the time of the activation of the AFRL.
The Pentagon said that contractor facilities will be utilized for the work carried out under the purview of the Advanced Aerospace Systems Technology Research program unless otherwise noted. A funding amount of $200,064 was allocated for testing and evaluation and will be distributed among the contractors with the issuance of the award.
All efforts within the program are expected to be complete by April 5, 2023, according to the release.