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Air Force Launches New Software Factory to Support B-2 Spirit

Spirit Realm, one of the newest USAF software factories, will support B-2 stealth bomber operational capability.

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Air Force Launches New Software Factory to Support B-2 Spirit
Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Hailey Farrell / DVIDS

The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) recently launched a new software factory called Spirit Realm to support the B-2 Spirit bomber fleet, further pushing department-wide efforts to adopt modern software development practices in line with the Defense Department’s recently released software modernization strategy.

Spirit Realm, located at the Barksdale Air Force base, Louisiana, has already implemented Infrastructure-as-Code, allowing for a more collaborative, productive, and secure environment to support the B-2 system modernization efforts.

“Through the software factory’s tools and infrastructure, automated steps take the code from the beginning in development all the way through testing and eventually to release,” Capt. Joel Graley, the B-2 software maintenance and innovation team lead, said in a press release.

The factory has several primary objectives, starting with decreasing flight test risks and timelines through high-fidelity ground testing.

The second objective includes minimizing flight test burdens by capturing additional test points via targeted upgrades. The third goal focuses on increasing Integrated Functional Capability quality through high-frequency automated testing.

Guided by DOD’s DevSecOps reference design, the B-2 Software Maintenance and Modernization team shortened the software upgrade processes from two years to three months and deliver certain capabilities in a matter of weeks.

“Overall, the Spirit Realm has yielded more tests with fewer defects, which in turn results in having better quality coding, which begets better software. These higher quality factors result in overall better operational capability for the B-2 fleet,” the press release reads.

The B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is a low-observable, long-range heavy bomber that carries both conventional and nuclear ammunition. The Air Force recently unveiled B-21, a new stealth bomber replacing the B-2 Spirit, as well as B-1.

The B-2 Spirit has been used in military operations such as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, and Operation Desert Fox in Iraq.

The Air Force software factory ecosystem has been growing rapidly with more than 17 different software factories working on various missions across the continental U.S. Hangar 18, one of the newest factories based in Dayton, Ohio, accelerates the rate of aircraft repairs with rapid data exchange and celebrated its first anniversary earlier this month.

“Sometimes ‘software factory’ means we’ve built a pipeline and supply developers with tools; sometimes it is developers solving a problem or airmen coming together and problem-solving and doing design-thinking, user-centered design and outsourcing the development,” Air Force CIO Lauren Knausenberger said at the Air Force Summit last year.

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