Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer

As an active participant in the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs, AFNWC regularly supports Phase I and Phase II technology development through the AFWERX Open Topic programs, which allow industry to submit topics without constraint. The current SBIR open topic is AF212-CSO1 and the STTR open topic is AF21B-TCSO1.

The AFNWC focus areas are hosted on the AFWERX website, under the “AFVentures: For Industry” tab. The AFNWC focus areas can also be requested by emailing

More information on the Air Force SBIR/STTR process can be found on the AFWERX website. If you have any questions about the AFNWC focus areas or the SBIR/STTR process, including eligibility, please contact


Creating Tomorrow's Air Force Today

Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent ICBM

The GBSD intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is the follow-on to the aging LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM, which first became operational in the mid-1960s. While some components and subsystems have been upgraded over the years, most have supported over 50 years of continuous operation. It no longer makes financial sense to continue to upgrade or extend the life of existing Minuteman III ICBMs, so the Air Force is modernizing the ICBM nuclear capability to maintain a deterrence edge over our adversaries. It will be adaptable and responsive to the challenges posed by the pace of technological change and new threat environments. The Air Force plans to start deploying GBSD in the late 2020s.

Innovative activities include:

• Building modular, human-centric design to meet the challenges of technological change, budget uncertainties and new threat environments for the next 60 years
• Leveraging model-based systems engineering and digital engineering to design and sustain the weapon system, ensuring safe, secure and effective operation through its service life
• Owning the technical baseline so the Air Force will be able to sustain and update the weapon system through its lifecycle, increasing its long-term capability and reducing program costs and risks
• Partnering with Secretary of the Air Force's AFWERX program, which solves some of the toughest challenges the Air Force faces through innovation and collaboration amongst the nation’s top subject-matter-experts

Long Range Stand-off Weapon

The LRSO weapon is the follow-on the aging AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile. The current Air Launched Cruise Missile was first fielded in the early 1980s with a 10-year design life and will continue to face increasingly significant operational challenges against emerging threats and reliability challenges until replaced. The Air Force plans to start fielding LRSO in the late 2020s. The LRSO will ensure the bomber force continues to hold high-value targets at risk in an evolving threat environment, including targets deep within an area-denied environment.

The Air Force will deliver an innovative and highly reliable nuclear cruise missile that takes advantage of competition and mature subsystem technologies. Most critically, the initial acquisition phase is incorporating an extensive Design for Reliability and Manufacturing (DfR&M) approach to mitigate the risk (cost and schedule) of extensive design changes during follow-on phases. The DfR&M approach enables the program to achieve economical ordering quantity sooner than a traditional approach, thereby reducing required production lots (i.e., from nine to five). 

Minuteman III ICBM

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force Global Strike Command launched a joint “Airmen Powered by Innovation” campaign in March 2021 to solicit innovative ideas from Minuteman III operators, maintainers and defenders to accelerate the design and deployment of warfighter solutions. The campaign is open through Dec. 31, 2021 to DoD employees and contractors, who can submit their ideas and view other submissions at

Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent

Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, is the next generation ICBM under development. A megaproject, equivalent to 15 Defense Department programs in scope, design, development, certification and deployment…it will recapitalize or modernize 400 missiles, 450 silos, more than 600 facilities across almost 40,000 square miles of US territory, over 6 states, 3 operational wings and a test location. (Video By Staff Sergeant Franklin Harris)