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Future Studies & Reports

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  • Blue Horizons

  • “Technology Horizons:” Building Future Air Force Capabilities, comments by the AF Chief Scientist, Dr Werner Dahm, at the Air & Space Conference, 13 Sep 2010
  • Technology Horizons: A Vision for Air Force Science & Technology During 2010-2030, Volume 1 (local copy), by the United States Air Force Chief Scientist (AF/ST), 15 May 2010
    • This report is a product of the “Technology Horizons” study conducted by the Office of the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force (AF/ST). Inputs to this study were drawn from a broad range of sources, including discussions, briefings, site visits, and working groups, however all statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions in this report are those of the USAF Chief Scientist, and do not necessarily represent the views of individuals or organizations that provided inputs to the study or the official position of the U.S. Air Force or the Department of Defense.

  • Air Force 2025

  • SpaceCast 2020

  • AF Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)

    • Domain Integration (local copy), executive summary of the summer 2005 study by USAF Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)
    • Air Force Operations in Urban Environments (local copy), executive summary of the summer 2005 study by USAF Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)
    • New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century (local copy), by AF Scientific Advisory Board
    • New World Vistas: Looking toward the Future, Learning from the Past, by Daso, in Air Power Journal, Winter 1999 - discusses the process and conclusions
      • The New World Vistas study had seven primary objectives:
        1. Predict how the explosive rate of technological change will impact the Air Force over the next 10 to 20 years.
        2. Predict the impact of these technological changes on affordability.
        3. Predict science and technology areas where dual-use defense conversion occurs, industry leads and military follows, and a partnership with industry exists.
        4. Predict S&T areas the Air Force will have to develop where no commercial market exists.
        5. Offer advice as to whether our lab structure is consistent with the study and what changes, if any, should be made.
        6. Offer advice as to whether the current SAB charter is consistent with the findings of the study and what changes, if any, should be made.
        7. Evaluate the study in light of how the Air Force contributes to the joint team.
      • The conclusions drawn in New World Vistas may one day have similar reach as those of Kármán’s first study. Perhaps in a decade we will have an idea of their impact. Following is a summary of these conclusions:
        1. There will be a mix of inhabited and uninhabited aircraft. Specifically, the Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) will fill many roles and expand performance into the hypersonic range, enabling strikes anywhere on the globe within minutes.
        2. Large and small aircraft will project weapons. "Large" aircraft will be the first to carry directed-energy weapons and, eventually, will carry smaller UCAVs internally, providing intercontinental standoff capability. The roles of this type of vehicle will reach into space as well.
        3. We must extend airlift capabilities. Expansion of airlift fleets will need to include "point-of-use" delivery capability. Essentially, this means improving precision airdrop capability to keep up with the increased tempo of operations in any future endeavor. "The problem of airdrop should be treated as seriously as the problem of bomb drop."
        4. The future force will become efficient and effective through the use of information systems to enhance US operations and confound the enemy. Information and space will become inextricably entwined. The human-machine interface must also improve as the machines improve. "Information munitions" will become part of the inventory just as laser-guided bombs, infrared missiles, or cruise missiles are today.
        5. Space and space systems will become synonymous with effective operations. The protection of our assets and the denial of capabilities to an enemy will be essential.
        6. Sensors and information sources will be widely distributed. In the past, there has been a failure to recognize that information originates as data from active and passive sensors. New information systems will correlate data into information much more effectively than before.

  • Prophecy Fulfilled: "Toward New Horizons" and Its Legacy, ed. by Gorn, Air Force History and Museums Program, 1994
    • Where We Stand was written in 1945 and issued as an AAF Report in 1946.
    • Science, the Key to Air Supremacy, was originally published in 1945 as part of the multi-volume Toward New Horizons.
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  • Imagining the Internet, surveys and predictions from 90's to now - from Elon University and the Pew Internet Project

  • Project Control: creative strategic thinking at Air University, by Dean, in Air University Review, Jul-Aug 1984
    • Air University's Project Control is a premier example of creative strategic thinking in the Air Force. It had its beginning as an informal, ad hoc effort to pursue the ideas of one man, Colonel Raymond S. Sleeper. While a member of the Air War College faculty, Sleeper was able to gather a group of people into an organization to study, test, and project his ideas on how a strategic concept of air power could be meshed with the political goals of the United States. He was most concerned with developing a strategy of using our air power to control or modify the behavior of a potential aggressor, especially the Soviet Union.

    • see also chapter three of Air Control: Strategy for a Smaller United States Air Force, by Gagnon, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, May 1993

  • Hart-Rudman Commission, Study Addendum (local copy) addresses how well predictions have done the past 25 years

  • The Strategy of Technology, by Possony, Pournelle, and Kane - full text of classic book from 1970, with some updates and comments - many good sections still pertinent and thought provoking - if nothing else, at least view the table of contents

  • Project Forecast - 1963-1964
    • Technology and Aerospace Power in the 1970s, by Schriever, in Air University Review, Sep-Oct 1969
      • Back in 1963 and 1964 we made a massive study in the Air Force of the potential of technology—what we called a “technological forecast.” In other words, we tried to predict what technology could do, what deficiencies it could fill, what improved weapon capabilities it could provide during the next five-, ten-, and fifteen-year periods. The study was made by members of the government, both military and civilian, but the study group also included experts from industry and the academic community. Project Forecast, as it was designated, recommended certain high-priority areas for R&D, recommendations based on the greatest potential payoff for the future. Some areas promised major breakthroughs or quantum jumps. [Editor’s note: General Schriever’s article entitled “Forecast” was published in Air University Review, XVI, 3(March-April 1965), 2-12.]

  • Theodore von Kármán
    • Prophecy Fulfilled: "Toward New Horizons" and Its Legacy (local copy, 11 Mb), ed. by Gorn, Air Force History and Museums Program, 1994
    • Where We Stand, a report prepared for the AAF Scientific Advisory Group. Wright Field: Air Materiel Command, 1946.
    • Toward New Horizons , a report sent to General Arnold in December 1945, consisting of 34 monographs in 12 volumes.
      • "New Horizons outlined developments and opportunities in areas of high speed aerodynamics; aircraft materials and structures; power plants, including gas turbines, pulse jets, and ramjets; the design and development of solid and liquid fuel rockets; high temperature materials; aircraft fuels and propellants, including hydrocarbon fuels and atomic power; guided missiles and "pilotless" aircraft; automatic flight controls; heat seeking, television guided, and radar homing missiles; explosives and terminal ballistics; radar and communications; and aviation medicine, including psychological research. Von Kármán authored two of the monographs: "Science, the Key to Air Supremacy," and "Where We Stand." He advocated a vigorous research program for the future Air Force, including the technical education of officers and the establishment of research and development centers to conduct work in specialized areas. He recommended--somewhat optimistically, if not naively--that future R&D funding account for one fourth to one third of the peacetime Air Force annual budget." - description from http://www.ascho.wpafb.af.mil/START/CHAP7.HTM

  • Vannevar Bush

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