Airborne Innovation Lab Collaborates Across Formations

By Jenelle SandersNovember 9, 2022

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BRAGG, NC – The newly minted 82nd Airborne Division's Airborne Innovation Lab is rapidly launching warfighter innovation into the next phase of global competition, strategic deterrence, and warfare with the prototyping of over 12 different Soldier-driven projects in its first 30 days.

Striving towards the same strategic end state of force modernization, the AIL is breaking down barriers between Conventional and Special Operations Forces by partnering with 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA. Such collaboration on organically driven force modernization demonstrates the value our own Soldiers will play in innovating our equipment and our Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures in the age of Global Power Competition.

The AIL serves as a no-reservation-required makerspace for Soldiers to design, prototype, and test new ideas to solve problems at the lowest level and enable tactical level innovation to achieve operational and strategic impacts. To enable that innovation, the lab offers robotics equipment, 3D printing, a woodshop, textile station, and computer lab at no cost to the unit or Soldier.

In a recent collaborative project with 1st SFG (A), the Senior Special Forces Communications Sergeant that led the project said "The AIL is helpful because it provides access to a wide array of tools. I was able to use the computer lab to prototype components and the printers to fabricate parts for immediate testing."

The soldier is working on an organically built drone holster.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Organically built drones are Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) that are built by the user, rather than purchased as a whole unit. The benefits of these systems include interchangeable parts and modifiable features, which is how they were able to design and print their own components.

By modifying the landing feet and integrating the unique shape of the UAS with pre-existing weapon holsters, the Communications Sergeant is able to rapidly employ the system while simultaneously provide protection during movement.

This organically built drone holster is just the first of a series of collaborative projects between Fort Bragg and other military installations across the country. As projects are created by Soldiers in the AIL, the files are distributed to other Design, Innovation, Research, and Technology (DIRT) Labs and printed, providing the capability of these new prototypes to Soldiers across the country.

Other projects that have been shared across different DIRT Labs include breach-lane markers, chem light holsters, and Raven propellers.

The Airborne Innovation Lab is open to all Soldiers on Fort Bragg from 1000-1600, Monday through Friday.