Changes Coming in Military Technology Picture

May 11, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The most advanced military in the world must prepare for a future in which enemy technologies and capabilities negate existing advances, according to Michael W. Wynne, former secretary of the air force. These advances, which comprise both kinetic and digital capabilities, threaten land, sea and air forces in areas where they currently dominate. Existing communications and network systems are especially vulnerable, and not just because of direct action. Speaking at 2011 Joint Warfighting Conference, Wynne pointed out that software and data flow offer their own problems. Networks are drowning in gigabytes of data-"we are burying our transmission systems in irrelevant imagery," he said. That challenge is complicated by inadvertent problems and potential enemy action. Jamming and the loss of spectrum control by cohabitating electromagnetic signals is a threat to networked operations, Wynne pointed out. He predicted that the next war could be first to fiber, as the ability to transmit could be corrupted or jammed by enemy operations. "I don't think we can wait for data Armageddon," he said. Wynne also cited the need for continuing deployment of advanced aircraft such as the F-22 and the F-35, as competitors already are at work developing peer platforms. Upgrading existing fourth-generation aircraft such as the F-15 and the F-16 will fall short of necessary capability. Those older aircraft cannot participate in the first 48 hours of war with an enemy who has a modern integrated air defense system, he pointed out.

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