Vanguard Magazine

Dec/Jan 2015

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 37 of 47

a air PowER RCAF planners face formidable challenges as they think ahead to what air force capabilities will be needed in the future. By actively expanding their thinking to identify capabilities, the major elements of which are people and equipment, they will gain the fl exibil- ity necessary to respond to unexpected, and potentially catastrophic, events. Lgen (ret'd) george macdonald joined CFN Consultants in 2005 a er serving 38 years in the Canadian Forces, culminating in the position of Vice Chief of the Defence Staff . He is also a Fellow with the Canadian Defence & Foreign Aff airs Institute. 38 DECEMBER 2014/JANUARY 2015 a NeW WaY TO FLY a NeW WaY TO FLY Key considerations for air force planners Unpredictable technological breakthroughs are one challenge planners face. It is critical to employ new technologies where they will matter most in maintaining operational rel- evance, effective self-protection and essential interoperability. Other challenges involve the development of resilience and innovativeness of air force personnel to empower them to make the decisions necessary in fl uid circumstances, the need for appropriate interoperability with al- lied forces, and the ability to conduct and support "para-military" missions associated with humanitar- ian assistance and respond to natural disasters such as earthquakes and fl oods. In addressing future challenges, balance will be key – balance in the provision of multi-purpose, sus- tainable, and fl exible capabilities – all the while living within the available Defence budget. When one refl ects on the last two decades, it is clear we lived during a time of dramatic change. The end of the relatively stable Cold War period has brought a se- ries of unexpected events that have had a signifi cant and continuing impact on global security. Who would have predicted the terrorist acts of 9/11, the "Arab Spring" uprisings, the global economic crisis, the intervention in Libya, or the recent crisis in Ukraine or Iraq? Each of these events threatens our security, directly or indirectly, and each presents new potential challenges to air force planners trying to choose the most appropriate capabilities for the future. There is no shortage of analyses to assess future risks and threat scenarios. However, as they think ahead to what air force capabilities will be needed over the next two decades, RCAF planners will be challenged by the long lead time typical for the acquisition of enduring military capability, and the requirement to provide solutions that are consistent with approved defence policy and affordable. The RCAF provides unique capabilities that are employed in sup- port of, or coordinated with, the navy and the army. But, Canada is unable to afford the full spectrum of air capability resulting in tough choices to balance cost, effective- ness and relevance of capability in antici- pated future roles. Technological advancement The most important factor impacting air force planning is technological advance- ments, due mostly to the unpredictability of breakthroughs fundamental to military capabilities. For example, the use of GPS technology over the past 15 years has revo- lutionized navigation, weapons accuracy, and effective command and control, not to mention its applications for public, every- day, use. Also, internet access for military purposes is expanding in areas never before imagined. Communications linkages and capacity for data exchange have evolved to levels that enable the timely transfer of huge amounts of information. On a more air force specifi c front, the use of stealth technology has matured over the past few decades. Increased fi delity in situa- tional awareness has been enabled by mod- ern sensors and data link capability. New weapons, with varying degrees of lethality, are more adaptable to a changing tactical situation and can be employed with limited collateral damage. Increasing miniaturiza- tion has presented new opportunities for applying these technologies more broadly, more covertly, and more cost-effectively. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has revolutionized surveillance and

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of Vanguard Magazine - Dec/Jan 2015