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Air Force Plans to Develop Next-Gen Tech Under ‘Vanguard’ Programs

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The U.S. Air Force plans to work on three “vanguard” programs encompassing technologies such as next-generation munitions, navigation satellites and unmanned aircraft, National Defense Magazine reported Thursday.

The Golden Horde program will focus on using precision-guided munitions for teaming operations, while Navigation Technology Satellite 3 will serve as a spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit that will handle position, navigation and timing functions. The Skyborg effort will revolve around the deployment of a large number of artificial intelligence-based unmanned aircraft for future missions.

“We believe they can dramatically change the way that we fight and the way that we employ air power,” said Gen. Arnold Bunch, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, at a press briefing in Washington, D.C. “We’ve funded those for the next couple of years to make sure we’ve got all the efforts for the prototyping and experimentation that we want to move forward.”

Bunch’s comments come after former Air Force Secretary and 2019 Wash100 winner Heather Wilson announced plans to resume vanguard programs in line with the Air Force’s science and technology strategy in April.