Q: What role can suppliers and manufacturers in the composites industry play in helping AFRL advance its research?

A: Ultimately, when we develop things here, they have to be in place in the industrial base because we don’t build our own airplanes. We rely on industry to do so. So we encourage companies to come and tell us what their issues are. Maybe we can work together to design an R&D program to help solve those. If companies have interesting solutions, come talk to us about how we can take advantage of them for next-gen airplanes.

The big gauntlet I’ve been throwing down is that we would love to have a next-gen composite system. The Air Force typically designs its airplanes around open-hole compression. We would like to see a 25 percent improvement in open-hole compression, which would translate to a significant weight reduction in aircraft. That kind of improvement would be good for both the Air Force and the composites industry as a whole.