Maintaining a technological edge

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer urged members of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board to help the service maintain its technological edge at the winter board meeting Jan. 27.

“We need your help,” Spencer said. “We need the expertise you provide because it is really critical. Our budgets are shrinking, our capacity is shrinking and there’s no way to accomplish (our mission) with the budgets we have without technology and innovation.”

Spencer cited current modernization efforts, including the F-35A Lightning II, KC-46A Pegasus, long-range strike bomber and the intercontinental ballistic missile fleet upgrade, as current costly programs the service must pay for. He then urged the group to look at how studies can help the service save money while keeping its technological edge.

“We need your help to focus on what we can do versus what we can’t,” Spencer said. He then highlighted some technologies, such as measuring time in femtoseconds, hypersonics and quantum entanglement, as areas of advancements that need to be studied to determine how they can be used to advance the service’s mission.

“(The Air Force) cannot survive without you,” Spencer said. “The technology has leaped so fast, it’s hard for us to keep up with it. We want our adversaries to say, ‘Where did they get that and what are we going to do about it.’ ”

The SAB was tasked by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III to conduct studies on the cyber vulnerabilities of embedded systems in air and space systems, enhanced utility of unmanned air vehicles in contested and denied environments, and utility of quantum systems for the Air Force.

The SAB is made up of 50 experts among the nation’s top civilian scientists and engineers on matters of science and technology relating to the Air Force mission.

The current SAB will be completed by the end of June 2015, and then be briefed to the secretary of the Air Force, chief of staff of the Air Force and other Air Force senior leadership.