The Air Force Chief Scientist has officially concluded his last study, looking into the Air Force’s core mission of global vigilance, reach and power, in the context of how global trends will affect those missions in the next 25 years.
The Global Horizons study, led by Dr. Mark Maybury, outgoing Air Force chief scientist, looked at how the Air Force’s core functions within the domains of air, space and cyberspace can be sustained and enhanced using science and technology amid a rapidly changing world.
The study highlighted how these domains will be increasingly complex, congested, competitive and contested.
“The study succeeded,” Maybury said “in quantitatively forecasting the future out to 2050 in terms of changes that influence global stability such as global population and prosperity, climate changes, and competition for natural resources (e.g., water, energy, rare earths) as well as forecasting technology and military trends that might undermine freedom of maneuver in global domains.”
These trends were used to determine actions in the near (present- fiscal year 2017), mid (fiscal years 2018-2022) and far (fiscal years 2023-2027) term where the service should lead, follow or watch current and projected trends in collaboration with joint and international partners. “The study clearly articulates where the Air Force should lead in S&T areas supporting core functions in the air, space, and cyberspace domains,” said Maybury.
One of the most important findings was the identification of specific investments being made by countries that could be leveraged to decrease the cost and accelerate the acquisition of capabilities. For example, the report highlights hypersonics and logistics automation in Australia, materials and manufacturing technology in the United Kingdom and Germany, biofuels in Brazil and robotics in Japan and Korea.
Assessing the outcomes of these different research areas will help the Air Force determine if they will be applicable to its needs Maybury said.
The study was created through a collaborative engagement with experts across government, industry, academia, national laboratories, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers and international partners. This allowed the study to leverage a wide array of expertise to ensure S&T recommendations for future AF actions were determined with the best information and expertise..
Maybury expressed deep appreciation to these Air Force partners as well as to the Major Commands, Headquarters Air Staff, and Air Force Research Laboratory for their partnership in creating the Global Horizons vision. Dr. Maybury’s successor, Dr. Mica Endsley, assumes the lead in pursuing how the service can best apply limited resources to shape future investments to respond to the findings and advance the recommendations of the report to advance Global Vigilance, Reach and Power.