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Air Force Research Lab

Air Force Research Lab

Scientific research organization operated by the United States Air Force and Space Force.


The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is a government organization headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that specializes in the research, development, and implementation of technologies related to warfare for multiple United States forces including air, space, and cyberspace units. The organization is comprised of Technology Directorates, Functional Directorates, 711th Human Performance Wing, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. AFRL partners with organizations in other fields, such as higher education, business, and government, in order to collaborate on technologies that could benefit its mission.

Science and Technology Strategy

In September 2017, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson launched an initiative to update the Air Force’s science and technology strategy that involved the engagement of the scientific community, higher education, and business professionals to share their knowledge through a series of discussions and outreach events. In April 2019, Secretary Wilson introduced the Science and Technology Strategy devised to identify, develop, and deploy breakthrough technologies. The strategy is comprised of an array of changes intended to maximize and expand the Air Force's technological capabilities.

Air Force Vanguard programs

In 2019 the Department of the Air Force has announced four Vanguard programs devised to advance emerging weapon systems and warfighting concepts through prototyping and experimentation: Golden Horde, Navigation Technology Satellite 3 (NTS-3), Skyborg, and Rocket Cargo. Details regarding the programs were outlined in the Department of the Air Force 2030 Science and Technology Strategy.

Aerospace systems

AFRL also specializes in the development of various aerospace systems, including rocket engines, alternative fuels, unmanned vehicles, and hypersonic systems. AFRL has introduced designs and programs such as the Affordable Responsive Modular Rocket (ARMR) engine architecture and HydroCarbon Boost (HCB) technology development program. The ARMR and the HCB program contribute to the development of combustion liquid rocket engines.


The AFRL has been in operation since 1917. At this time, the organization's base was situated at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio, where its early research efforts took place, including researching and utilizing the energy from the electromagnetic spectrum. This research resulted in AFRL's development of the first aerial cameras and airborne radio equipment. Those early innovations were followed by AFRL's exploration of numerous technologies that harness electromagnetic energy, including radar detection, advanced targeting pods, the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System, and the Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP).


November 14, 2019
Air Force Research Lab Works on Next-Gen Hypersonic Weapons for 2040



Further reading


U.S. Air Force Science and Technology Strategy


April 2019

Documentaries, videos and podcasts





William Harwood
June 4, 2021
Commercial rockets may soon be capable of delivering military cargoes to destinations around the world.
QC Ware Corp.
April 27, 2021
/PRNewswire/ -- The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and QC Ware are exploring the use of one of QC Ware's proprietary quantum machine learning algorithms...
February 9, 2021
/PRNewswire/ -- MEASURE, a leading aerial intelligence company, announced today that the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded the company a...
Alexandra Ames
December 16, 2020
T-minus 3...2...1...liftoff! Day one of TC Sessions: Space 2020, our first conference dedicated to space technology, early-stage startups and the brilliant minds forging a new era of space exploration, is officially underway. Get ready for two days of interviews, panel discussions, fireside chats and breakout sessions with the space industry's mightiest movers and shakers -- [...]
Kris Osborn
November 14, 2019
Fox News
The Air Force Research Laboratory is immersed in early work on a new generation of hypersonic weapons designed to come after the currently emerging arsenal, expanding hypersonic mission options in new directions and introducing new air vehicle configurations.


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