The Air Force deputy undersecretary of International Affairs spoke June 18 at an industry-sponsored breakfast during the 50th anniversary of the International Paris Air Show.
Heidi Grant focused on how the aviation industry has evolved over time and the technological advances that have changed the face of war and bolstered readiness of our global coalition in times of peace through the last 50 years.
“Our governments have relied on industry to provide the technological capabilities needed to defend national and global security interests … we could not stand ready today without the collective efforts of government, industry and individual airmen,” Grant said.
She described the aerospace industry as a multinational venture. The thousands of parts that make up one aircraft come from multiple countries and companies. Separately these parts are of little use, but together they play a critical role allowing the aircraft to perform its intended mission.
History has shown that industry answers the call to the militaries’ needs of defending national and global security interests, and continues to rise to the occasion and push technological boundaries to provide essential capabilities, she said.
Today’s advances are a result of decades of engagements. World War I was the first war where aircraft were deployed on a large scale for combat operations, Grant said to the audience. The technology laid the foundation for aerial reconnaissance and combat aircraft, and led to the critical technologies we have today. World War II saw an increase of aircraft production from all countries involved in the war.
Aircraft was also used to support diplomacy rather than combat for the first time during the Berlin Airlift providing food and supplies.
Through industry’s technological advances, airpower has continued to play a critical role in conflicts since World War II.
Looking toward a future of fiscal uncertainties, Grant expressed the need to be more innovative, more collaborative and more responsive than ever before. She stressed the importance of building lasting relationships with partner nations, and investing in future capabilities to continue driving the future of modernization.
“Our Air Force mission to fly, fight, and win continues, and so will the need for the latest and greatest technology that supports that mission,” she said.
She added that today’s Air Force is the smallest it has ever been, however, threats to our global security have grown more complex.
Through the collaboration of industry and the military in research and development we must make sure Airmen have access to the latest technology to ensure the Air Force mission can be accomplished, she said.
“The aviation industry represents much more than aircraft and technology sales. (Industry) supports the larger mission of security cooperation by helping build global air capabilities and capacity for like-minded partners,” Grant said.