Integrating the Combat Cloud

While modernizing combat airpower is critical to countering advanced threats, the United States also needs to realize it is at a critical point in history where information processing and dissemination, as well as advances in technology and sensors, are demanding greater integration of air, land, sea, and space capabilities, said David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies on Monday. Deptula told the audience at a Mitchell Institute event in Arlington, Va., that the United States has built an incredible network of ISR and command and control capabilities, while also expanding the use of precision-guided weapons. It must now connect all of these capabilities in a “combat cloud,” he said, in ways that will enhance their effectiveness and decrease their individual vulnerabilities in battle. The concept, modeled on “cloud computing,” would capitalize on ISR networks to move data across air, land, sea, and space domains, and could succeed in generating greater combat power with fewer weapon systems, he said. Airborne key enablers in this concept would be secure, jam-resistant data links, responsive command and control, sufficient numbers of munitions, and rethinking joint tactics and concepts of operations.