Friday, August 1, 2014

Future Air Force

Great Satan's Wild Blue Yonder cats have bombs away'd a spirited PDFing about a 30 Years In The Future Air Force
Money Shot (one of several):
Our Air Force has always sought to maintain a technological advantage over adversaries. We are in the midst of a period in which technological advances are abundant, so as we look to the future we will focus on those that amplify many of the enduring attributes of airpower – speed, range, flexibility, and precision. To be agile enough to maintain our advantage, the Air Force must reach for these game-changing technologies and evaluate their utility early in development.
 Some of the more promising include:
This technological pursuit is certainly not new, and though it still has not reached its long awaited goal of practical application, the advantage such a capability can yield warrants our continued investment and focus. Throughout aviation history, our advancements in operational speed have been steady, measuring progress in hundreds of miles per hour. This has produced a constant evolution in our operational concepts and tactics.
The leap to effective hypersonic operational speed will have a profound impact that can revolutionize the way we approach our core missions in the future – from investments, to force posture, to tactics, techniques, and procedures. It is an often heard phrase in combat – “speed is life” – and though we may not always desire to operate at the fastest possible speed, the ability to do so creates a significant advantage.
The explosion of nanotechnology will open up new opportunities with respect to both material structures and size. By manipulating materials at the molecular level, we can create structures that are both stronger and lighter, contributing to both speed and range. Such a breakthrough will have significant implications for air-breathing and space platforms.
The vexing problem of cost per pound when launching payloads into space becomes more manageable with lighter, stronger materials. Miniaturization aids in weight reduction, but also provides promise in the area of detectability.
Innovative application of miniaturized systems can open the door to new concepts for sustained operations in highly contested environments
Directed Energy
Exploiting directed energy technology will provide the opportunity to fundamentally alter operational concepts and support requirements. As we seek flexibility in our weapons effects and the ability to operate in contested environments, directed energy weapons with deep magazines can alleviate the need for acquiring and transporting large stockpiles of munitions into the theater, while providing precise, responsive, and persistent effects. In addition, classes of directed energy weapons can deliver temporary and reversible effects that offer more options to commanders in the field.  
Unmanned Systems
Where unmanned aircraft once offered little more than a preferential risk profile, their utility is now growing
exponentially, and must be embraced. The absence of an onboard human may not only reduce size, cost, and complexity – it can increase range, endurance, and performance.
The imperative to protect the occupant can be replaced with an unemotional assessment of value versus effect, enabling us to take greater risks in highly contested environments. Future unmanned systems will be more autonomous and will place less demand on critical and vulnerable communications infrastructure. In high-intensity conflict, they will provide additional capacity or a level of redundancy for heavily tasked space assets. In an offensive scenario, they will swarm, suppress, deceive or destroy.
Their weapon effects might range from kinetic to non-kinetic; permanent to reversible; single-use to self-recharging. Better affordability will reduce the barriers to entry for smaller nations, increasing the potential for future coalitions, and wider security relationships. Affordability will also deliver quantity and mass.

Autonomous Systems
The accelerated development of artificial intelligence and like technologies will revolutionize the concept of autonomy. Whereas we view autonomous systems as those able to execute a set of pre-programmed functions, future systems will be better able to react to their environment and perform more situational-dependent tasks as well as synchronized and integrated functions with other autonomous systems. This will provide tremendous flexibility in highly-contested environments. We must not allow technology to outpace legal, moral, and doctrinal considerations – these must all be pursued in parallel to maintain tempo and sustain the advantage.
This list is by no means exhaustive.

 In fact, it’s just the beginning! The future will generate new combinations of technologies we cannot describe, or possibly even imagine, which will shape the way our service provides airpower. Maintaining awareness of advancing technology and harvesting the opportunities it creates is in our blood as innovative Airmen. 
The aircraft as an instrument of war was once considered “game changing” – pursuit of the next “game changing” technology is central to maintaining the asymmetric advantage our Air Force has always provided the nation.