The U.S. Air Force has published a strategic plan entitled “America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future.” This 20-page document is required reading for any company that is looking to be a long-term procurement partner for the Air Force.
The Report explains that future acquisition programs, training and education must be focused on the Air Force’s desire to remain agile, and to use “common systems to deliver maximum effect and optimal efficiency along the spectrum of conflict.”
The Report also stresses the Air Force’s need to maintain a continued leadership in global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Report identifies five target technologies that the Air Force would like to see further developed by the private sector:
- Hypersonics: The Air Force is interested in advancements in operational speed.
- Nanotechnology: The Air Force hopes to see nanotechnology open up new opportunities with respect to both material structures and size, permitting stronger and lighter materials, which will have a positive effect on both speed and range.
- Directed Energy: No longer the province of science fiction, the Air Force hope to see developments in directed energy technology that will fundamentally alter operational concepts and support requirements. The Air Force hopes to see these weapons change munitions requirements and expand the range of options available to commanders in the field.
- Unmanned Systems:The absence of an onboard human reduces size, cost, and complexity and offers the ability to increase range, endurance, and performance. Future unmanned systems should be be more autonomous and place less demand on critical and vulnerable communications infrastructure.The Air Force is also seeking better affordability in order to be able to deliver more of these devices to the field.
- Autonomous Systems: Systems driven by artificial intelligence that can react to their environment and perform more situational-dependent tasks.