Capturing the Essence

The Air Force is formulating new terminology to more accurately reflect the capabilities resident on a given orbit of remotely piloted aircraft than the current stock phrase “combat air patrol” can convey. “The current CAP terminology only relates to the raw number of orbits and not the capability of those orbits,” Air Force spokesman Maj. Richard Johnson tells the Daily Report. Take, for example, an orbit of MQ-9 Reaper RPA serving today in Afghanistan. It’s one CAP. Now fast forward to an orbit of MQ-9s flying with Gorgon Stare sensor pods sometime in the near future. It’s still just one CAP using today’s terminology, even though these pods will enable each Reaper to provide multiple full-motion overhead video streams versus the one provided by Reaper sensors today. Johnson says more appropriate language “will better enable joint force commanders to optimize RPA availability across the spectrum of military operations.” (For more, see Beyond CAP Fixation.)