Air Force awards WSU-NIAR $23.5 million contract for fleet sustainment


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) a $23.5 million contract for fleet sustainment.

This program will expand the framework for developing innovative in-service inspection technologies for advanced structures and bonded joints, validating high-fidelity composite repair analysis techniques, and assessing aging composite structures for life extension and structural enhancements.

NIAR’s newly established Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS) will lead this program with partnerships between AFRL researchers, defense contractors, and universities for enhancing tools for design-manufacture-certify advanced integrated structures incorporating machine-learning and artificial intelligent algorithms with automated technologies for manufacturing next-generation composite airframes.

“Wichita State has strategically invested in technology to assist the aviation and manufacturing industries become more competitive and efficient, while providing applied learning opportunities for our students,” said WSU Interim President Andy Tompkins. “This extended partnership with the DoD and AFRL is an endorsement of the high-caliber capabilities and expertise at this university and we’re honored to have the opportunity to work with them in this capacity.”

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran visited NIAR with Air Force Under Secretary Matt Donovan and Will Roper, Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in November.

“The fleet sustainment program signifies the immense value NIAR provides to our Air Force and national defense,” said Sen. Moran. “I am pleased the Department of Defense is increasingly more confident and reliant on the engineering talent in Wichita, and that WSU and NIAR will be able to grow their efforts in support of the Air Force with this recent award. The Air Force will undoubtedly benefit from having Kansans working directly on this program, and I’ll continue working to bolster this already strong partnership that has simultaneously advanced our nation’s defense and the Wichita region.”

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