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NEWS | March 2, 2020

Air Force pushes tech boundaries at new software development facility

By Lori A. Bultman 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force started the new year with a new venture, LevelUP Code Works, composed of Air Force and industry partners embracing a startup culture that values innovation.

The cohort’s state-of-the-art software factory, located in 20,000 square feet of office space in downtown San Antonio’s tech district, celebrated its grand opening Dec. 10, 2019.

The fast-growing team is already pushing boundaries, building and refining military software, and protecting national security.

“LevelUP is transforming the future and will help our military services to better protect the United States,” said Lt. Col. Richard Lopez, director of LevelUP. “We are striving to be bold, act now, learn and adapt.”

The Air Force’s software development team was previously located on JBSA-Lackland, but to grow the organization, a move off the installation was deemed necessary.

“We have a fixed government side, but we are adding a mixture of other organizations to the team,” Lopez said. “Our new work group is embracing the culture of a startup, where innovation and good ideas reign.”

Moving military software development operations from JBSA into the community was good for the Air Force, but it will benefit the City of San Antonio as well.

"The location of the Air Force LevelUp offices in our downtown has added further energy to San Antonio's growing Tech District," said Alejandra Lopez, director for the City of San Antonio's Economic Development Department. "Information technology and cybersecurity are target industries for San Antonio and the city is committed to their continued growth through innovative collaborations with our military partners, concerted workforce development efforts, and industry partnerships with organizations like CyberSecurity San Antonio. We look forward to LevelUp's continued success."

LevelUP’s active mission is to deliver rapidly deployable software capabilities to support a full range of Air Force and Department of Defense missions, but their mission is two-fold. LevelUP not only supports warfighters and cyber specialties, but it also supports a multitude of other Air Force and DOD software needs.

“We develop and service the DOD’s implementation of Development/Security/Operations (DevSecOps) software development toolkit,” Lopez said.

“DevSecOps is a software engineering culture and practice that aims at unifying software development, security and operations,” he said. “Platform One is the Air Forces version of DevSecOps, which automates, monitors and applies security at all phases of software development.

“At LevelUP, we are employing the latest commercial tools and practices to create the technology stack that makes up Platform One,” Lopez said. This includes 172 tools from over 40 different open source and commercial vendors.

“We are utilizing the best practices from commercial entities to develop software at the speed of relevance, as opposed to taking years to develop a capability,” he said. “We want to deliver software in days and hours, in smaller portions, to facilitate rapid development.”

Building and improving smaller pieces of a whole application, something that is referred to as agile development, is a process the LevelUP team is leveraging to speed results.

“The architecture for applications developed using Platform One calls for micro-services, where applications are broken down into smaller components that work together,” Lopez said. “Each piece can be developed continuously, and separately maintained from other pieces of the same application.

“In many cases, instead of developing monolithic capabilities, we are continuously developing and delivering smaller increments of capabilities faster to the warfighter, rather than waiting to build a capability years from now,” he said.  

An example of this, Lopez said, is when someone goes to a website and it looks just a little different than it did the day before. It runs a little faster, has a few, small changes, but those changes improve the site’s functionality.

“You didn’t have to read instructions to utilize the changes, but you recognized the site was better,” he said. “We are in the business now of continuously improving capabilities for users and improving the architecture of the software.” Improvements that are needed in today’s tech battlespace.

“Bringing innovative technology to life quickly is critical to the success of LevelUP’s mission,” Lopez said. “We must develop and deliver capabilities to the warfighter at the scale and speed of need.”

Lopez said the new environment at LevelUP not only allows for growth in technology, but also in people.

“We are here to revolutionize software delivery through innovation – process, technology and people,” he said. “We’re not just here to change the game, we’re here to win it.

LevelUP’s employees are some of the best in software development, and Lopez is looking for more high-speed individuals who are up for the challenge.

“LevelUP has opportunities for industry, not only large, traditional defense contractors, but for smaller, non-traditional startups as well,” Lopez said. “We’re looking for passionate players to get in the game and take their career to the next level. We still need high-speed program managers, contracting officers, computer and data scientists, finance managers and engineers.”

Lopez is also accepting Palace Acquire interns, recent graduates who are paid to complete a training program that can lead to an Air Force civil service career. LevelUP already has six on their quickly expanding team. 

“We are looking for a full range of skillsets,” Lopez said. “Individuals who are willing to push the envelope and help take us to the next level.”

For more information on LevelUP Code Works and potential opportunities, email

(Editor’s note:  The mention of non-federal organizations is simply informational and not intended to imply endorsement by the U.S. Government, the DOD, or the U.S. Air Force.)