Returning to Berlin, the International Fighter Conference 2019 will open with sessions on particularly pressing topics; data fusion and the light attack concept. With information superiority now a critical objective for airborne operations, we must continue to examine the ways combat aircraft gather, process and exploit data. A sophisticated technical approach to fusion between air, land and sea must be matched with training model fit for the data-age pilot. The light attack segment acknowledges that, in a stealth-focused fifth generation age, the multi-role fighter might have its limits. Investment in expensive high-end platforms might well need to be balanced with lower-spec aircraft, which can operate decisively – and without extensive support – in a more permissive operating environment against an asymmetric threat.
Days two and three will once again invite senior commanders to debate fresh approaches to strategy, mission planning, interoperability, multi-domain operations, MRO and acquisition. Underpinning the debate will be the recognition that cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum have well and truly infiltrated airborne operations. Preparing for sustained engagements against a peer threat will demand a combat platform which can manage cyber, offensively and defensively, and which can leverage EW/counter-EW to support a decisive approach to combat airpower delivery.