3
Air and Space Systems

AIR SYSTEMS

Scope of Air Force Air Systems S&T

The Air Force claims six core competencies: aerospace superiority, global attack, rapid global mobility, precision engagement, information superiority, and agile combat support (USAF, 2000). Although they support all six competencies, the traditional air systems technologies will also have to be modified to ensure new capabilities, including the following (Borger, 2000):

  • Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for targeting and surveillance. These platforms, ranging from micro air vehicles to high-altitude, long-endurance vehicles, either are remotely piloted or have autonomous flight-management systems whose operation will require new algorithms for planning and decision making, onboard image processing, and software-based systems integration.

  • Unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) for suppression of enemy air defenses. These highly maneuverable platforms will carry weapons and will require additional research in the areas of materials, structures, and aerodynamics.

  • Inexpensive guided weapons to improve pilot survivability and reduce collateral damage. Because traditional guidance systems are expensive, targeting will be separate from the weapon system. Onboard guidance systems use the Global Positioning System, backed by inertial navigation, to reduce vulnerability to jamming. Command and control between the sensor and the shooter will be an integral part of the weapon system.

The range of sizes of these vehicles, as well as their use, will require additional research in all of the classical aeronautical disciplines. The aerodynamics of microvehicles lies in a Mach number-Reynolds number regime about which scientific understanding is weak. Basic research will be needed to provide a solid foundation on which to base aerodynamic design. Similarly, the structural design of UAVs and UCAVs, as well as propulsion systems and guidance and control systems, will have to meet new standards and perhaps will require new materials. For example, long-endurance, long-range, very-high-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft will require very lightweight, large-volume structures. The cooling aerodynamics of propulsion and power-generating systems will be especially demanding, particularly if a relatively slow flight is needed to ensure the accuracy of information.

The requirements for developing UCAVs are very different from those for UAVs and conventional aircraft. Currently, however, development of the technologies needed to achieve either UAVs or UCAVs presents serious challenges to the S&T community because of the lack of an adequate base of fundamental scientific knowledge (Neighbor, 1999). Therefore, 6.1 and 6.2 programs will be necessary to develop the requisite knowledge base.

The budget for air systems S&T also includes funding for technologies in the gray area between air and space systems, such as hypervelocity weapons. Hypervelocity weapons would provide a time-critical strike capability and would be effective against deeply buried targets. Hypersonic propulsion and guidance and control techniques are key technologies for



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 21
Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program 3 Air and Space Systems AIR SYSTEMS Scope of Air Force Air Systems S&T The Air Force claims six core competencies: aerospace superiority, global attack, rapid global mobility, precision engagement, information superiority, and agile combat support (USAF, 2000). Although they support all six competencies, the traditional air systems technologies will also have to be modified to ensure new capabilities, including the following (Borger, 2000): Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for targeting and surveillance. These platforms, ranging from micro air vehicles to high-altitude, long-endurance vehicles, either are remotely piloted or have autonomous flight-management systems whose operation will require new algorithms for planning and decision making, onboard image processing, and software-based systems integration. Unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) for suppression of enemy air defenses. These highly maneuverable platforms will carry weapons and will require additional research in the areas of materials, structures, and aerodynamics. Inexpensive guided weapons to improve pilot survivability and reduce collateral damage. Because traditional guidance systems are expensive, targeting will be separate from the weapon system. Onboard guidance systems use the Global Positioning System, backed by inertial navigation, to reduce vulnerability to jamming. Command and control between the sensor and the shooter will be an integral part of the weapon system. The range of sizes of these vehicles, as well as their use, will require additional research in all of the classical aeronautical disciplines. The aerodynamics of microvehicles lies in a Mach number-Reynolds number regime about which scientific understanding is weak. Basic research will be needed to provide a solid foundation on which to base aerodynamic design. Similarly, the structural design of UAVs and UCAVs, as well as propulsion systems and guidance and control systems, will have to meet new standards and perhaps will require new materials. For example, long-endurance, long-range, very-high-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft will require very lightweight, large-volume structures. The cooling aerodynamics of propulsion and power-generating systems will be especially demanding, particularly if a relatively slow flight is needed to ensure the accuracy of information. The requirements for developing UCAVs are very different from those for UAVs and conventional aircraft. Currently, however, development of the technologies needed to achieve either UAVs or UCAVs presents serious challenges to the S&T community because of the lack of an adequate base of fundamental scientific knowledge (Neighbor, 1999). Therefore, 6.1 and 6.2 programs will be necessary to develop the requisite knowledge base. The budget for air systems S&T also includes funding for technologies in the gray area between air and space systems, such as hypervelocity weapons. Hypervelocity weapons would provide a time-critical strike capability and would be effective against deeply buried targets. Hypersonic propulsion and guidance and control techniques are key technologies for

OCR for page 21
Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program hypervelocity weapons (NRC, 1999). Bringing hypervelocity weapons into the DoD inventory will require advances in propulsion systems. With the exception of rocket-based propulsion, none of the extant propulsion systems has demonstrated a capability for producing net thrust in flight. The development of advanced propulsion systems is a primary prerequisite for increasing the range of hypervelocity weapons and increasing fuel efficiency (and thus reducing the size of the weapon). Level of Funding The total DoD investment in air systems S&T includes 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 programs and funding from the three services and DARPA. The committee received DoD air systems S&T funding data from several sources; however, there remained some difficulty in determining with precision the level of the DoD investment in air systems S&T. The underlying cause of the difficulty was that different organizations “slice the pie” differently, resulting in differences in their answers to the same question. OSD divides the DoD S&T programs into 10 technology areas plus basic research. Under the DoD S&T community’s “Project Reliance,” there exists a defense technology area planning panel for each technology area (plus a basic research panel for basic research) for cross-service, cross-agency S&T program coordination and planning. Unfortunately, the OSD taxonomy does not aggregate into a single category all DoD S&T that supports air systems. The air platforms technology area panel chair represented the DoD air systems S&T program to the committee. He pointed out, however, that other DoD technology areas also support air systems (e.g., materials and processes, human systems, and sensors). Nevertheless, he attempted to represent the air systems portions of those areas as well; however, he cautioned the committee that there was a large degree of uncertainty in the numbers that he presented. Despite this uncertainty, the DoD air platforms technology area panel chair was able to state that the Air Force is “the primary DoD corporate sponsor for aeronautics-related S&T” (Borger, 2000). The other services and DARPA also invest in air systems S&T; however, the Air Force investment accounts for the major share of the total DoD investment. For example, the planned Air Force investment in air platforms S&T in FY01 was almost 60 percent of the total planned DoD investment in that year (DTIC, 2000). The Air Force divides its S&T programs into technology areas, many of which are similar to the OSD technology areas, as well as into three additional categories: S&T that primarily supports air systems, S&T that primarily supports space systems, and S&T that supports both air and space systems. The committee found it difficult to reconcile the OSD data with the Air Force data. Others have also been frustrated by the absence of consistent data (e.g., Gessel, 2000; AFA, 2000). Despite this difficulty, the committee was able to make several observations: The Air Force is the main contributor to DoD air systems S&T. However, as a result of the continual reductions made to Air Force investment since the Cold War, the Air Force now has the lowest total S&T budget of the three services (Borger, 2000; Etter, 2000). The air systems S&T investment has declined along with the total Air Force S&T investment. The Air Force FY00 air systems budget of about $494 million was only 48 percent of the budget for FY90. To increase its emphasis on space, the Air Force shifted funds from air systems S&T to space systems S&T. For example, in FY00 the Air Force shifted approximately $180 million from air to space systems S&T. OSD actions have reduced flexibility in the Air Force air systems S&T investment. In FY00, OSD instructed the Air Force to support S&T on air-systems propulsion technology but did not provide a corresponding increase in the S&T budget. The mandated investment was $180 million in FY00, increasing to $250 million in FY05 (Etter, 2000). Although propulsion S&T is certainly needed, this large mandated investment, without an accompanying increase in funding, severely constrains the Air Force’s pursuit of other S&T on air systems. DARPA funding for air systems is oriented toward relatively large, advanced technology demonstrations. DARPA’s annual investment in air systems S&T fluctuates significantly with the initiation and completion of these programs (Figure 3–1 shows year-to-year percentage changes as large as 400 percent). SPACE SYSTEMS Emphasis on Strategic Value of Space DoD space policy highlights the increased strategic significance of space as a vital defense arena (DoD,

OCR for page 21
Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program FIGURE 3–1 DARPA air and space systems S&T funding. SOURCE: Adler, 2000. 1999). The policy states that any interference with U.S. space systems will be considered an attack upon the United States; it defines a mission for an operational U.S. space force to patrol and protect U.S. space assets; and it expresses a need for both expanded research in space technologies and more test flights for military spacecraft, launch vehicles, and experimental craft for defense-related purposes. This policy is reflected in DoD and Air Force plans. In its long-range plan, the U.S. Space Command has defined a vision and doctrine for 2020 of dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investments and integrating space forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict (Byrne, 2000). The Air Force Space Command (a component command of the U.S. Space Command) strategic plan and vision include the following missions: space superiority, space support, space control, space force enhancement, and space force application. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Force Science and Technology Plan, Fiscal Year 2000 clearly describes the need for a greater emphasis on space (USAF, 1999). This plan documents the Air Force’s S&T investment strategy from FY00 to FY05 to ensure that present and future warfighters have the best technologies to achieve that vision. These plans will not be fulfilled, however, if funding is not made available. Since 1993, the Air Force has been the principal player in DoD space S&T. The Air Force investment in space systems S&T makes up two-thirds of the total DoD investment. However, even with the Air Force investment, DoD’s investment in space S&T is only one-thirtieth of the overall DoD S&T program (see Figure 3–2), hardly enough to pursue an aggressive space technology initiative. Although DoD has increased its emphasis on the strategic value of space, it has not provided any new resources. DoD strategy appears to rest heavily on Air Force reprioritization of Air Force S&T investments. It appears to this committee, however, that without additional funds, the Air Force will not be able to implement the new policy. The Air Force wants to double the percentage of its total S&T investment that is oriented toward space and

OCR for page 21
Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program FIGURE 3–2 DoD total S&T funding and space S&T funding as a percentage of DoD total obligational authority (TOA). SOURCE: Byrne, 2000. proposes increasing space S&T from 13 percent of its total S&T program in FY99 to more than 27 percent by FY05 (Neighbor, 1999). The Air Force space S&T investment strategy has three primary pillars: funds transfers, focused demonstration programs, and enabling technologies. Transfer of Funds The Air Force plans to increase its investment in space S&T by transferring funds from air systems S&T. In FY00, the Air Force shifted approximately $180 million from air to space systems S&T. In addition to this deliberate transfer of funds, the proportion of funding allocated to the space part of the Air Force S&T program was increased in the late 1990s when the Air Force decided to use S&T funds (rather than the demonstration/validation funds used previously) to support two large space-related demonstration/validation programs, the space-based laser, and the Discoverer II space-based radar. At that time the Air Force did not simultaneously increase its total S&T budget; therefore, these two large programs used funds that had been intended for other air and space S&T projects. Because the two programs had not previously been considered to be S&T programs, it can be argued that funding the space-based laser and Discoverer II programs with S&T funds constitutes an apparent, rather than a real, increase in Air Force space S&T funding. Even after the decision was made to fund the programs using S&T funds, they were not moved into the Air Force S&T program, which is managed by AFRL. Instead, they remained in the Air Force acquisition program chain of command. If these two programs are not thought of as representing part of the Air Force space S&T investment, the planned investment in space S&T for FY05 will be about the same, in real terms, as it was for FY99 (AFA, 2000). QUALITY IN AIR AND SPACE SYSTEMS S&T Quality of Research The quality of research in air and space systems is directly related to the quality of researchers and the quality of their leadership. Several recent reports have indicated that the current S&T workforce, both civilian and military, has undergone severe attrition. In addi-

OCR for page 21
Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program tion, recruiting high-level, quality people is very difficult (AFA, 2000; DSB, 1998; Tangney, 2000). Although the defense industry as a whole suffers from similar difficulties, the effect on the services is more severe. A contributor to the problem is the Civil Service compensation structure, which is discussed in Chapter 5 (DSB, 1998; Tangney, 2000). In a recent report, the Air Force Association (AFA) raised questions about the commitment of the Air Force leadership to technical excellence (AFA, 2000). Specifically, the AFA suggested that the creation of the Air Force Materiel Command in 1992 weakened advocacy for S&T at the highest levels, which had the direct effect of forcing S&T investments toward near-term solutions. In addition, elimination of opportunities for promotion has undermined the motivation of technically capable junior officers to remain in the service. High-level leadership will be critical, not only to advocate for S&T funding at the level at which policy decisions are made, but also to encourage junior officers to pursue advanced technical degrees and to continue to serve the nation as members of the Air Force. Relationship to Industry and Academia Successful DoD programs like the integrated, highperformance turbine-engine technology program depend on industry’s willingness to share knowledge and/or cost (Etter, 2000). However, the services cannot count on industry cooperation in areas that are unique to DoD and in which the future return on investments is thus unclear (AFA, 2000). In those areas, cooperation can be solicited more easily from academia and independent laboratories anxious to ensure the relevancy of their research and to generate fresh ideas. Peer Review A world-class research, development, and engineering organization is one that is recognized internationally by peers and competitors as one of the best in the field in several key attributes. Ad hoc peer review teams composed of independent, external peers assess the alignment of the strategic vision of the S&T program vis-à-vis the world-class organization’s mission, as well as the quality of the technical work. Periodic peer reviews such as these should be an integral part of the practice of evaluating the Air Force S&T investment, and the findings and recommendations of these reviews should be published. CONCLUSIONS Conclusion 3–1. Although DoD air systems S&T programs are funded by all three services and DARPA, the Air Force contribution is by far the largest. This emphasis is logical because air systems technologies are necessary to support all six Air Force core competencies. Funding for air systems S&T is essential not only to provide traditional airframes but also to enable the development of new capabilities, including uninhabited vehicles and guided weapons. Nevertheless, Air Force funding for air systems S&T is at an all-time low and is being diverted to support space systems S&T. Conclusion 3–2. Attrition in the civilian technical core is increasing, and motivation for junior officers to pursue advanced technical training is eroding. Conclusion 3–3. Since the formation of the Air Force Materiel Command, the strength of Air Force S&T representation and advocacy near the Pentagon where Air Force corporate policy and decisions are made has diminished. Conclusion 3–4. DoD and the Air Force appear to be in substantial agreement about the need to increase the emphasis on space and space systems S&T. DoD is relying on the Air Force to lead in both. In the committee’s view, however, it does not appear that sufficient resources are being allocated to space systems S&T to achieve DoD and Air Force visions for space as an arena of significant strategic value. RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation 3–1. The Air Force should establish technical leadership at the highest level, including representation in the Air Force corporate structure, to define the most effective technical investment plan and provide strong advocacy for investments in science and technology (S&T). Strong Air Force advocacy would bring stability to the Air Force S&T program and would provide leadership to the other services in the area of air systems. Recommendation 3–2. The Air Force should encourage junior officers to pursue advanced technical degrees by creating and publicizing career opportunities for these officers.

OCR for page 21
Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program Recommendation 3–3. The U.S. Department of Defense should identify the science and technology resources required to achieve its vision of space for strategic defense and direct the services to protect these resources within their budgets. Recommendation 3–4. The U.S. Department of Defense should consider allocating additional Air Force funding consistent with the high priority of space systems. Recommendation 3–5. The Air Force should be designated as the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) executive agent for space science and technology and should assume the lead role in developing a plan to modernize DoD’s space capabilities. REFERENCES Adler, A. 2000. DARPA Air and Space Systems S&T, presentation by A. Adler, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program manager, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., February 23, 2000. AFA (Air Force Association). 2000. Shortchanging the Future: Air Force Research and Development Demands Investment. Arlington, Va.: Air Force Association. Borger, W.U. 2000. Report on the Status of the Air Platform Technology Base for Future Needs and Requirements, presentation by W.U.Borger, chair, Air Systems Defense Technology Area Plan Panel, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., January 24, 2000. Byrne, W. 2000. DOD Space S&T Program: Maintaining a Sufficient Technology Base, presentation by W.Byrne, representing C.M.Anderson, chair, Space Platforms Defense Technology Plan Panel, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., January 24, 2000. DoD (U.S. Department of Defense). 1999. Space Policy. Department of Defense Directive 3100.10, July 9. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Defense. DSB (Defense Science Board). 1998. Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Defense Science and Technology Base for the 21st Century. June. Washington, D.C.: Defense Science Board. DTIC (Defense Technical Information Center). 2000. Total DTAP funding (DTO and non-DTO) sorted by service/agency. Available online at <https://ca.dtic.mil/dstp/dtap_funding/2000/2000funding.htm> (last viewed May 29, 2001). Etter, D.M. 2000. Defense Science and Technology, presentation by D.M. Etter, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., January 24, 2000. Gessel, M. 2000. Congressional Perspectives, presentation by Michael Gessel, executive assistant to Congressman Tony Hall, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., January 24, 2000. Neighbor, T. 1999. AFRL Vision, presentation by T.Neighbor, Air Force Research Laboratory, director, Plans and Programs, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., December 17, 1999. NRC (National Research Council). 1999. 1999 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Air and Surface Weapons Technology Program. ONR Assessment Series. Naval Studies Board. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Tangney, J.F. 2000. Scientists and Engineers in DoD RDT&E, presentation by J.F.Tangney, Special Assistant for Laboratory Management, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., January 24, 2000. USAF (U.S. Air Force). 1999. The Air Force Science and Technology Plan for Fiscal Year 2000. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Air Force. USAF. 2000. America’s Air Force: Vision 2020. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Air Force.