Artist’s rendering of WGS-11+



Thinking outside the box – RCO delivers Department of the Air Force capabilities

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Today, less than 200 personnel assigned to the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities office rapidly develop capabilities to outpace and counter the increasing threats of adversaries.

Their primary focus incorporates cutting edge approaches to standard acquisition processes to produce capabilities for both the Department of Defense and the DAF, which includes the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force.   

The mission of the DAF RCO is to expedite development and fielding of select DoD combat support and weapon systems by leveraging defense-wide technology development efforts and existing operational capabilities.

“Built on using speed and efficiency, we expedite the fielding of critical capabilities to the warfighter,” said Randy Walden, director and program executive officer for the DAF RCO.  “This includes operators in both the United States Air Force and the United States Space Force in support of the National Defense Strategy.”

Originally activated in April 2003, one of its first projects was to deploy significant upgrades to the Integrated Air Defense System, now operational around the National Capital Region, to meet critical counter-terrorism objectives before the January 2005 Presidential Inauguration Day.

Today, the DAF RCO portfolio includes several high priority developmental and experimental programs. 

For example, the X‑37B Orbital Test Vehicle program is an experimental test platform that supports the U.S. Space Force to meet DAF objectives. Space professionals conduct X-37B launch and on-orbit operations, and the DAF RCO program office team will include Space Force members as the new service continues to stand up. 

The X-37B is an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform. The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space; and operating experiments, which can be returned and examined on Earth.

Currently, the X-37B is conducting on-orbit operations in its sixth mission.

The DAF RCO is also home to the B-21 Raider program. The B-21 is an USAF priority, which will provide critical operational capability and flexibility across a wide range of military objectives, providing both conventional and nuclear capabilities in fulfillment of national objectives.

The B-21 is being designed to be highly survivable with the ability to penetrate modern air defenses to strike any target, anywhere on the globe in a contested area of operations.

The program plans to deliver the first B-21 aircraft to operational bases in the mid-2020s.

“The DAF RCO is a unique organization because it supports priorities for both the Space Force and Air Force,” said Walden. “The office is staffed with a variety of functional DAF specialists who form a collaborative melting pot of expertise built specifically to operate within the gray areas of the standard acquisition processes.”

The DAF RCO conducts streamlined acquisitions in response to Air and Space Forces and Combatant Command requirements. It reports directly to a board of directors comprising of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment; Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Secretary of the Air Force; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations; and Chief of Staff of the Air Force.   

“Whether it’s digital engineering, prototyping or modern software development, the DAF RCO is committed to advancing the capabilities of the Department of the Air Force,” added Walden.    


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