America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future provides a compelling 30-year vision for ensuring that the U.S. Air Force can continue to provide responsive and effective Global Vigilance—Global Reach—Global Power. Creating innovative game-changing technologies that are agile and able to amplify many of the enduring attributes of airpower – speed, range, flexibility, and precision – form a critical portion of this vision.
Unmanned systems and autonomous software offer significant potential advantages for meeting the challenges of a newly forming adversarial environment. Speed of light cyber-attacks, anti-access/area-denial (A2SD) actions that keep our forces operating at a distance, and potential attacks on our space-based assets all require innovative solutions for maintaining mission effective air, space and cyber operations in the face of these new challenges.
Autonomous Horizons depicts a path to the future for system autonomy in the Air Force. It describes an evolutionary progression that obtains the best benefits of autonomous software working synergistically with the innovation of empowered airmen. This vision is both obtainable and sustainable – it leaves the authority and responsibility for warfare in the hands of airmen while creating tools that enhance their situation awareness and decision-making, speed effective actions, and bring needed extensions to their capabilities. Rather than attempting to design the airman out of the equation, the Air Force embraces the agility, intelligence and innovation that airmen provide, along with the advanced capabilities of autonomy, to create effective teams in which activities can be accomplished smoothly, simply and seamlessly.
In order to thrive in the future, we must pursue strategic agility – in our people and in our technology. New paradigms of operation are needed to maintain the strategic advantage for our Airmen, our Air Force, and our Nation. Autonomous Horizons provides a pathway to the future for Air Force systems to ensure our ability to fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace.