GTARC Receives $85 Million Contract for AFRL’s Golden Horde Weapon Swarm Demonstration Effort

Georgia Tech Applied Research Corp. (GTARC) has been awarded an $85 million contract by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for the Golden Horde Science and Technology demonstration effort.

The five-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract provides support for research and development of emerging munition technologies, as well as integrated weapon demonstrations. The effort is conceptualized as a fast-paced AFRL-led demonstration project executed under the auspices of the Team Eglin Weapon Consortium.

“This award is the result of a non-competitive acquisition under the authority of Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. Only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency needs”, said a Pentagon release announcing the contract award.

The first task order will be awarded as an undefinitized contract action (UCA), with a not-to-exceed value of $46 million under task order FA8651-20-F-1070. Fiscal 2019 and 2020 research and development funds in the amount of $17.29 million are being obligated on the first task order at the time of the award.

Work will be performed at Atlanta, Georgia, and is expected to be completed by December 2021 for task order 0001.

Golden Horde

Golden Horde program envisions networked, collaborative, and semi-autonomous weapon swarms that will be able to observe and react to the enemy in real-time, increasing their effectiveness within the enemy’s decision loop.

The concept could be used for traditional airstrikes but may be deployed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), electronic warfare (EW), or aerial refueling (AAR).

The program is replacing a different swarming cruise missile effort known as “Gray Wolf.” Its initial flight tests are slated for summer 2020, and the Air Force is planning a capstone test event in summer 2021 that brings together various weapon systems to go after simulated targets.

In March, Scientific Applications Research Associates (SARA) Inc. was awarded a $100 million contract for the Golden Horde demonstration effort. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The Golden Horde program was selected as one of the three next-generation technologies to be developed under the U.S. Air Force’s Vanguard program. The other two efforts selected are the Skyborg wingman drone program, and the NTS-3 experimental satellite effort. It was announced at the time that the work will be performed in Cypress, California, and is expected to be completed by December 2021.

The idea of selecting vanguards—special programs that would pull resources from across the research and development spectrum to speed up prototyping and experimentation—came from the Air Force Science and Technology 2030 report commissioned by former Secretary Heather Wilson, said a report by Airforcemag.

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