Las Vegas is now home to an Air Force innovation hub that celebrated its grand opening today with the help of Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence joined Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in addressing service members at AFWERX Vegas, a newly opened storefront military technology development program near UNLV.
The visit to the facility came as Heller battles primary opponent Danny Tarkanian, who has attacked Heller for what he says is a lack of support for President Donald Trump and his policies.
Laxalt and Heller are both facing elections this year.
Laxalt is seeking to fill the governor’s seat when he is termed out, and Heller is vying to keep his party’s nomination and retain his seat in the Senate.
Pence thanked Laxalt and Heller for attending.
Pence mentioned Heller during his remarks, noting the senator’s “strong support” for a bill Trump signed to “provide for one of the largest increases in military spending in American history.”
The AFWERX facility is intended to bring service members, business leaders and academic experts together to solve problems.
“Innovation is deeply ingrained in the heritage of the United States Air Force in particular — in the pioneers, the explorers and the trailblazers who lived to break barriers in the skies above us ... to achieve the impossible, to bring the future into the present,” Pence said. “Now AFWERX Vegas will contribute to this legacy.”
Wilson, who spoke before Pence, made reference to the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, where 4,000 companies are showing off the next generation of technology, and said AFWERX would help the Air Force engage with innovators to help war fighters defend U.S. interests around the world.
“Over at the convention center, they’re looking at augmented reality and digital health and smart cities and self-driving cars, and all of us know the pace of change is accelerating,” Wilson said. “The Air Force has to engage the next generation of innovators, young scientists and engineers and smart business people to take us into our future.”