ACC commander talks 5th generation warfare, innovation at AFA

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Carrie Volpe
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs
Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the Air Combat Command commander, addressed advances in 5th generation warfare and the importance of delivering cutting-edge technology during the second day of the Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition.

For an audience of Airmen, civic leaders, international military representatives and numerous media affiliates, the ACC commander provided a brief history of airpower innovation Sept. 15 before focusing on warfighting investments that will enable creative Airmen to deal with future challenges effectively.

Before getting into the specifics of aircraft advancements, Carlisle emphasized the importance of changing the way we think about warfare.

"Fifth generation isn't necessarily about an airframe," Carlisle said. "It's really about technology and thought, and how we move our Air Force to continue to be the best Air Force on the planet and what it takes to get there."

He went on to highlight the performance of the F-22 Raptors, describing the aircraft as an "aerial quarterback" that does more than what was initially expected. When put in the hands of innovative Airmen, it provides situational awareness that makes every aircraft that flies with it better, he said.

Carlisle took a moment to reflect on the progress with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which recently was delivered to Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

"It is the most powerful, comprehensive, integrated sensor suite we've ever developed," Carlisle said. Those capabilities, combined with electronic warfare and the ability to play multiple roles in combat, represent a major advancement in operations, he said.

"We are a service that was born out of technology," Carlisle said. "Airmen by nature are innovators. It's the way we think. We think different than other people and that allows us to take advantage of capability at a level that nobody else can do."

He addressed each of the core functions of the combat air forces: air superiority; global precision attack; command and control; global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and personnel recovery.

Carlisle said that keeping the technological and tactical edge in each function is imperative to staying ahead of America's adversaries.

"The foundation of the joint fight is air superiority," he said. "Our adversaries are getting better at a rapid pace, and our technological advantage is shrinking."

The general stressed the importance of changing traditional approaches to precision attack in the future in order to maintain the technological edge.

"Directed-energy weapons are an area we're headed toward, and we're going there at a fairly good pace," he said. "I think it's a lot closer than people think it is."

"We've got to find the technologies to be able to do (personnel recovery) in a contested environment," Carlisle said. "We have a moral obligation to pick up our folks who are down behind enemy lines."

He elaborated on the current challenges facing the Air Force, citing limited resources and outdated technology but singling out the need to control high operations tempo.

"Our ops tempo is unrelenting. We simply don't have the capacity to do everything the combatant commanders ask us to do," he said. "The Airmen, we're burning them out and asking too much of their families."

He closed by saying that Airmen will succeed in any mission asked of them -- if Air Force leaders, in partnership with industry and government officials, will accept responsibility to give them the best tools and training.