As 5th Generation aircraft form part of today’s operations, there is a need to understand the future of air systems including the role of Air Power in an information-led, increasingly competitive and complex operational environment. To date, air systems have been divided into so-called ‘generations’, each building on the performance and characteristics of the last, to keep ahead of our adversaries. In 2019, the Aerospace Capability Conference challenged this approach by asking international colleagues from the military, academic and industrial sectors, how the Royal Air Force may deliver the Next Generation Air Force. Rather than adopt a stepped approach to Air Power capabilities, the Next Generation Air Force will continuously evolve by instilling innovation and agility within its DNA, driven by technologically-aware and empowered individuals.
To enable the Royal Air Force to prevail in a contested and degraded environment, it is undergoing an exciting and world-leading transformation programme to modernise and mobilise its Combat Air, ISR and Air Mobility fleets as well as delivering nascent Ballistic Missile Defence, Cyber and Space capabilities. The Conference explored the integrated approach to operations, fused with Cyber and Space, where commanders require assured information at the speed of relevance.
Delegates saw several international high-level speakers share their thoughts on the future battlespace and the challenges of a multi-domain environment. The conference reinforced the utmost importance of tight collaboration between the RAF and its industrial colleagues to maintain the advantage in the next generation.
The conference consisted of the following four sessions:
Session 1: Combat Air: ‘Maximising our Effects’
The RAF will become a Next Generation Air Force by not only increasing its Combat Air mass, but also by developing capabilities with optimised survivability, situational awareness and kinetic effects built-in at the design phase. This session explored the RAF’s vision for its current and future Combat Air systems, from Typhoon and Lightning II, to the extraordinary potential of the Tempest capability.
Session 2: Air C2/ISR: ‘Information at the Speed of Relevance’
Information is a critical enabler to today’s military commander. This session explored how Defence can achieve credible advantage, gained through the continuous, adaptive, decisive and resilient employment of information and information systems.
Session 3: Space: ‘Coalition Warfighting’
Space is a key Joint enabler and has become an integral part of the RAF’s ability to deliver decisive Air Power effects whenever and wherever they are required. This session explored the RAF’s vision for its nascent Space capabilities including collaborative ventures with our coalition partners.
Session 4: A2AD: ‘Dominance in a Contested and Degraded Operational Environment’
In order to prevail in a battlespace that is likely to become more competitive, particularly in the electromagnetic spectrum, there is a need for the RAF to deliver integrated effects that incorporate Cyber and Space domains. This session explored the challenge of the future operational environment and how Defence can maintain the competitive edge by instilling innovation and agility into its core business.