The study will create a vision and plan for the IS&T-related programs within the AFOSR’s Mathematics and Space Sciences Directorate. Based on the spectrum of Air Force IS&T needs and the context in which the Mathematics and Space Sciences Directorate operates, the committee will do the following:
Identify which of the Air Force’s IS&T needs seem to call for AFOSR-sponsored R&D;
Recommend a program of 6.1 research2 in IS&T that is not being done elsewhere (or is not readily applicable to Air Force situations) and that covers the most critical or broadly useful topics that fit within the purview of the Mathematics and Space Sciences Directorate;
Develop rough estimates of the funding needed to make credible progress in this program of IS&T-related research, with a prioritization that defines what could be adequately covered with flat funding, a 10 percent decrease, a 10 percent increase, and a 25 percent increase. Recommend how the directorate might transition from its current program to the envisioned one under these various budget scenarios; and
Recommend an appropriate balance of funding mechanisms for the directorate’s IS&T-related research, choosing among the various mechanisms currently in use in the directorate.
This report is the outcome of that committee’s study.
The committee learned about Air Force goals from a variety of sources, including printed reports, briefings at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Air Combat Command, and discussions with senior Air Force leaders in research and development (R&D). From these sources, the committee concluded that most of the capabilities desired by the Air Force cannot be attained without continued IS&T R&D. This is because IT pervades most, if not all, envisioned Air Force systems and is often the principal enabler of system capability, yet IT is still an immature engineering discipline requiring much work to assure predictable results when a system requires IT-related innovation. Furthermore, nearly all of those capabilities require some advances that are unlikely to be developed commercially or by the other services and therefore will require targeted R&D by the Air Force itself. Moreover, nearly all of that Air Force-specific R&D must include ambitious basic research, because significant gaps exist in the knowledge base upon which the desired capabilities will be built.
In the Department of Defense (DOD), funding lines are assigned numbers, and 6.1 is the line for basic research. Within the Air Force, the AFOSR is in charge of all 6.1 funding, most of which is used to support peer-reviewed academic research. Funds for applied research and development (R&D) are designated 6.2 or 6.3.