On March 17, 2016, the Williams Foundation held its latest seminar on fifth generation enabled combat operations, this one focused on new approaches to air-land integration. The terms of reference for the seminar highlighted the way ahead.
“Air forces need to be capable of delivering air and space power effects to support conventional and special operations in the land domain. Air-Land integration is one of the most important capabilities for successful joint operations.
The last decade has seen a significant shift in how airpower has supported ground operations. With the introduction of systems like Rover, the ability of airpower to provide precision strike to the ground forces saw a significant change in fire support from a wide variety of air platforms. Precision air dropping in support of outposts or moving forces introduced new capabilities of support.
Yet this template of air ground is really focused on air support to the ground whereas with the shift in the global situation, a much wider set of situations are emerging whereby the air-ground integration approach will become much wider in character, and the ability to insert force rapidly, as a precision strike capability, and to be withdrawn will be a key tool in the toolbox for decision makers.
Fifth generation enabled operations will see a shift to a distributed C2 approach which will clearly change the nature of the ground-to air command system, and the with the ability of fifth generation systems to generate horizontal communications among air assets outside the boundaries of a classic AWACs directed system, the change in C2 will be very wide ranging.”
This seminar is the fourth in a series of assessments and discussions of evolving approaches to 21st century combat capabilities under the influence of fifth generation air capabilities.
In this report, the main highlights generated by the seminar and discussion are augmented by a number of interviews conducted during and after the presentations at either the Air Power Conference or the Williams Seminar. As such, the report provides an overview on how the RAAF and the Australian Army are thinking about the transformation of the joint force.
The full report can be downloaded here.
The Williams Foundation, PO Box 5214, KINGSTON ACT 2604