U.S. Air Force officials are upgrading the battle command system used for managing all airborne platforms, including fighters, bombers, tankers, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and cruise missiles. The modernized system will provide warfighters with faster access to real-time operations and intelligence information, better planning and collaboration tools and enhanced situational awareness while dramatically reducing sustainment costs.
Air Force Technologies
Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”
The U.S. Air Force’s migration to a new enterprise network known as AFNET will be at least two years late in completion because the project turned out to be more complicated than planners anticipated.
The concept connects disparate networks to provide greater information to warfighters.
U.S. military officials envision one day being able to network together virtually all airborne assets, providing data to warfighters in the air, on the ground and at sea, even under the most harsh conditions. Major milestones in the coming months and years will bring that concept closer to a fielded capability.
Integrating air land, and sea forces on a monthly basis saves money and creates continuity of operations.
Costs, security and operations requirements share top billing on priority list.
The U.S. Air Force is looking to overhaul its networking capabilities to meet new taskings in the post-Southwest-Asia era. Limited resources are changing the way the Air Force moves information throughout the battlespace, so the service must confront its challenges through innovative approaches and cooperative efforts.
Roles are changing as the service reshapes its digital future.
The U.S. Air Force is subjecting itself to a cyber reality check with an eye toward restructuring the discipline both operationally and organizationally. A working group is parsing the service’s activities in this domain, and this effort involves interaction with the other services as well as the commercial sector.
One of the U.S. Defense Department’s top information technology officials says work is beginning on a multiaward contract for commercial cloud computing services, but the official says he has no timeline or total value for the business.
The shift of U.S. power to the Asia-Pacific will not be successful without an infusion of new technology and a dedicated effort to defeat a wide range of adversaries. The new strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region poses a new set of challenges, mandating solutions that run the gamut from technological capabilities to cultural outreach and diplomacy.
Air Force cybersecurity training may be conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week if needed to meet burgeoning demand for cybersecurity experts in the near future, according to the service’s chief information officer. Growing threats also may drive the need for adoption of rapid acquisition practices, which are being developed by a special corps of acquisition experts.
U.S. Air Force researchers use 3-D printers and other cutting-edge concepts to create the next innovations.
There is no Moore’s Law for antennas because size reduction and performance improvement will always be subject to the limitations imposed by electromagnetic physics and material properties. But steady advances in computer technologies, such as electromagnetic modeling and simulation and 3-D printing, enable antenna technology researchers to push the limits of possibility on behalf of the warfighters.
U.S. Air Force organizations soon could begin awarding task orders to 12 small businesses under the potential $960 million Network Centrics-2 (NETCENTS-2) contract—a vehicle designed to make it faster and easier for warfighters to obtain innovative information technology services and capabilities. The NETCENTS-2 team already awarded its Application Services Small Business Companion contracts, which were the first of two application services contracts that will be available to Air Force personnel.
The U.S. Air Force is planning an energy future in which it both leads and follows the technology efforts of others. Improved efficiencies as well as alternative technologies will play key roles in giving the Air Force supremacy in energy as well as in the air. The future of the Air Force’s fundamental research into energy through the year 2026 is outlined in a report designed to maintain the service’s position as the pre-eminent entity in air and space. Titled Energy Horizons, the paper offers plans for power-source science and technology (S&T) not only in the expected air and space arenas, but also in cyberspace and infrastructure.
A flood of new sensors has the U.S. Air Force awash in data, so now one of its priorities is to determine how to best process, exploit and disseminate information both today and in future operations. Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, USAF, the service’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, says his organization needs the tools to fuse and format data using technology to facilitate data sharing even in hostile physical or cyber environments.
The military network that broke new ground serving U.S. units in Iraq also generated lessons in how to take down a network at the end of operations. For some U.S. Army network experts, those lessons include how not to transition a network during a theater exit.
Light filtering technology developed with funding from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research may one day allow warfighters to see more clearly through clouds, dust or other obscurants. The technology could lead to a circular polarization camera capable of improving intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies that would boost situational awareness on the battlefield or for homeland defense. It also could aid cancer detection and even enhance 3-D movies.
The U.S. Air Force is clearing the air for advanced networking as it takes its next step into cyberspace exploitation. A unified effort aims to improve battlespace information sharing along with active cyberoperations, both offensive and defensive.
A research project funded by the U.S. Air Force and taking place among academics in Texas is advancing a new class of metamaterials that could open up a range of applications for defense requirements. By finding new methods for creating synthetic compounds, scientists believe they can develop nanomaterials with properties better suited for products such as electronics than anything found in nature.
As the U.S. human space program transitions to a new era of commercial space exploitation, a legacy space debris detection system is about to give way to a high-technology replacement designed to introduce state-of-the-art situational awareness to orbital mechanics. The new system would be able to detect objects in earth orbit as small as the golf ball that astronaut Alan Shepard smacked during his moonwalk.
The future air battlespace may be dominated by unmanned aerial vehicles fully networked to exchange sensor information and battle damage assessments. They could be controlled remotely by human pilots or guided by autonomous programming that allows them to change their objective mid-mission like a flock of birds suddenly changing direction. Similarly, they might trade off capabilities to ensure mission success if one or more fails or is destroyed.