Cloudy, with a Chance of Offsets

Analysts envision quick, seamless information sharing from sensors through to the weapons employed as the next overwhelming US advantage against its adversaries in combat, according to a Feb. 13 panel at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. The analysts see information fusion as the next game-changing advance, mimicking nuclear deterrence from the 1950s, and high-tech developments from the 1970s onward. The concept, cryptically called “combat cloud,” they hope will become the equally descriptive “third offset,” that advantages US forces in future combat. “How do we take sensors into an evolution that can be automated and ensure that the command and control authority all the way from a [joint terminal attack controller] on the ground … to the combatant commander … has the same sight picture and understands,” said Lockheed Martin Vice President Gary North. “It’s like an internet of weapons,” added Heather Penny, air superiority program director at Lockheed Martin. “The air tasking order will move away from pairing aircraft and ordnance loads to specific targets, and become more about creating an optimally configured ecosystem of weapons and platforms,” with dispersed, tactical-level strike authority, she added.