Getting Contested ISR

The Air Force is mulling how to receive and transmit intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data in contested environments, said Lt. Gen. Bob Otto, the Air Staff’s intelligence chief, on Monday. Being able to link together assets that can operate in this environment and those that cannot will be key to solving this challenge, he told AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies during his June 9 address in Arlington, Va. ISR is at a “strategic turning point,” said Otto. Looking forward, the Air Force will have some assets that can operate in these environments, such as the B-2 bomber, F-22, F-35, and stealthy remotely piloted aircraft. Assets that cannot function in these areas, like fourth generation fighters, will still support them. At this point, the need for a distributed network arises. Ground entry points and network nodes could help, but must be placed in areas where an enemy would not be able to take them out. “We need to get data to places where we can make sense of it,” said Otto, to allow both operators and commanders to tighten their decision-making cycles.