Information Rules the Air Battle of the Future

The air battlespace of the future will be dominated by the force with the greatest capabilities for gathering and sharing information, retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, told the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland Wednesday. To adapt to future adversaries, the Department of Defense must “rapidly capitalize on the capabilities of the information age” to enable “the ubiquitous and seamless sharing of information across systems in every domain,” Deptula said. To achieve this goal, the DOD must not only develop technological advantages, but also “embrace more functional joint organizational constructs” that enable a “move beyond service interoperability … to service interdependency.” Interdependency means that each service has to learn to rely on capabilities brought to the fight by the other services. As an example, Deptula refined the concept of the “loyal wingman” unmanned aerial system. He envisioned a group of UAVs flying alongside of and “carrying additional weapons for aircraft like F-35s, F-22s,” and taking advantage of their advanced sensors to direct munitions more accurately. He said the loyal wingman concept is “a wide open area that needs continual investment and exploration.”