Innovation unleashed: 307th Bomb Wing launches LR WERX

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle
  • 307th Bomb Wing

Four B-52 Stratofortress bombers lined up on the runway at Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, their engines churning the hot Texas air. The jets were preparing to return to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana after evacuating to avoid Hurricane Laura’s damaging winds last August.

Even after they arrived safely back at home station, a thought plagued the conscience of one Airmen involved in the effort. The hurried evacuation had not allowed them to bring a tow bar and NAS-JRB,Fort Worth, didn’t have one large enough to move a crippled B-52. Any breakdown would have trapped the big bombers for days until a towbar could be brought over from Barksdale.

“After we got returned, one of our Airman proposed the idea of having a tow bar that could be placed in the bomb bay of the B-52 so we could be ready for any type of contingencies such as having to divert or complete a hurricane evacuation,” said Maj. Brandon Wolf, 307th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations.

Airmen in the 307th Bomb Wing have often proposed innovative solutions to issues like this, but the process of making them a reality was often slow and few Airmen knew where to even forward their ideas.

That all changed when the Air Force introduced AFWERX, an innovation hub that allowed any Airman to forward an innovative idea and potentially have it fast-tracked to become operational reality. AFWERX uses Spark Cells, localized programs developed at the installation or unit level, to provide Airmen with access with resources to forward their innovative idea.

Now, the 307th Bomb Wing has its own Spark Cell named LR WERX in honor of the unit’s “Long Ranger” moniker. The program is spearheaded by Wolf.

“We have the network and the resources to help Airmen rapidly develop prototypes,” he explained. “We want to promote outside-the-box thinking to help solve some of the problems at the grassroots level.”  

The program is already having an impact. LR WERX is currently discussing potential prototypes with industry partners to solve the tow bar situation. It is also managing the development of a virtual reality procedures trainer for B-52 aircrew.  These processes, which in the past could have taken years, were accomplished in a matter of months.

307th Bomb Wing Airmen can forward their ideas via the 307th Bomb Wing app simply by pressing the LR WERX button and filling out a short commentary on their idea.

The ideas are then pitched to companies and industry professionals with the ability to rapidly develop prototypes or offer knowledge and expertise to turn ideas into action. Once that first step is made, the next step of integrating the new product or process into standard operations is much easier to realize.

“We want to build a culture of innovation across the wing, not just provide a cool new toy for a few units,” said Wolf. “We want everyone thinking about how they can become more effective warfighters.”

Though LR WERX is in its infancy, Wolf said it is already juggling five new ideas of varying size and scope. The influx of ideas has created a need for volunteers to ensure innovators are matched with the correct companies and industry professionals.

Wolf is actively seeking volunteers to serve as liaison between the idea generators and the companies that can help. He hopes to establish a diverse group of approximately four Airmen from various career fields and across the rank structure.

“It would be great to have as wide a range of individuals as possible because change is hindered when people are surrounded by others who think in the same way they do,” he said.   

Wolf explained that board members would primarily serve as conduits of information and would be careful to ensure autonomy for innovators.

“We want to empower the Airmen to bring their ideas to life, we don’t want to take over the project, and, in turn, provide them with a partial solution incorporating little to no user input throughout development,” he said.

To volunteer to serve as part of LR WERX or learn more about the program, contact Maj. Wolf at  More information on the AFWERX program can be found at