Video Above: Air War in 2050 - Air Force Research Lab Commander
Stealth fighter pilots who attack with precision missiles while under fire, bomber crews using advanced sensors to elude enemy air defenses, and cargo plane personnel descending into hostile areas to deliver supplies and ammo … will all be asked for specific contributions to the future of weapons development.
WarTech - Air Force Research Lab (AFRL)
The initiative is called WarTech, an Air Force Research Laboratory program designed to integrate warfighters with technologists, innovators and weapons developers to optimize preparations for future war.
“WarTech is a partnership with our number one customer which is the warfighter. It allows us to roll up our sleeves to tackle their operational challenges, things that they can't do today. And then to work together on ideas and solutions, and then curating down to those ones that are most within our grasp,” Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, Commanding General, Air Force Research Laboratory, told Warrior in an interview.
The idea is to bridge any potential divide or disconnect between innovators thinking about technology requirements and future warfare and warfighters themselves who know what works in actual tactical war scenarios.
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When these two sensibilities are aligned, modernization is well positioned for success. Much of this pertains to unknowns to a degree, meaning the advent of new technologies naturally drives a need for new tactics and maneuver formations, however warfighters themselves are perhaps best positioned to explain what gaps need to be filled and what particular combat needs or challenges can be addressed through innovation.
“When we're looking at the globalization of technology and the advanced development that's occurring all around the world, we want to make sure that we have an agile process that enables us to look at these challenges, bring them into the house and evaluate them,” Pringle said.
Pringle stressed that there is yet another critical element to the process, meaning innovators and warfighters can achieve great success, but need acquisition professionals able to fast-track any transition from ideas, testing and prototypes to operational systems in position to support warfighters.
“It's important that as part of this WarTech process that we bring in the acquisition community, so that we are thinking about the fielding, and the sustainment and the longer term implications regarding how to get this singular one of a kind solution, and then field it at scale. Although Wartech only has warfighters and technologists in the title, it's a trifecta of warfighters, technologists and acquirers,” Pringle explained
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest and President of Warrior Maven - the Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.