Having ISR Your Way, Right Now

The Air Force got so good at gathering information from the 1970s to 1990s by employing new capabilities such as E-3 airborne warning and control systems and E-8 Joint STARS ground surveillance aircraft that nobody saw the stovepipes emerging, said Lt. Gen. Michael Peterson. The Air Force’s chief information officer told a Capitol Hill seminar Thursday, “Somehow we forgot that they should talk to each other.” Bringing platforms together in a joint and coalition environment doesn’t work unless there’s interdependency in operations. Peterson said that the Joint Expeditionary Force Exercise has enabled the service to understand how it can “take the information that’s being sucked up by that [airborne] sensor … and very easily put it in the hands of someone who needs it now.” Today’s requirement for instant information is tremendous, said Peterson, noting, “When we invented Link 16, we couldn’t imagine how we would ever fill it up.” However, he added, “That was 20 years ago.” Now, he declared, bandwidth and data gateways are on the front burner of information efforts in the Air Force and will be for the foreseeable future.