As the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements looks toward the future, he sees a need for three improved weapons as part of the service’s force design and modernization efforts: “a better air-to-air weapon, a better ship-killing weapon and a better surface-to-air missile killing weapon.”
“Those are the things we gotta have, and we’re pursuing those as fast as we can,” Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote said today.
The weapons -- which Hinote said “could really make things different for us in a good way” -- were among a list of priorities he highlighted during a Center for a New American Security online discussion as he previewed “where we’re going” in the years ahead.
While officials await new platforms like the KC-46 tanker, the B-21 bomber and the Block 4-equipped F-35 fighter, which will have broader “fusion and processing” and cloud-populating abilities, Hinote noted the possibility of developing some of the three weapons he mentioned between now and “a 2027 timeframe,” adding that officials “think we’ve got to get [those weapons] in a very short amount of time.”
Other shorter-term efforts could include bolstering “realistic training” and strengthening military supply chains, he said.
He also repeatedly stressed the need for data sharing, as he acknowledged that fully enabling Joint All Domain Command and Control may not come by 2027. Pointing to the importance of a broad communications network to connect capabilities and platforms and share data among them via an edge cloud, in which officials use that information “as we need to, to affect our missions.”
“The first thing always is, how are we going to get the data from where it is to where it needs to be?” Hinote said. “And there seems to be some real movement in that area that I’m very excited about.”
In the long term, Hinote predicted the shifting of some missions away from fixed runways, the movement of others toward “very, very long-range and [those] kept at a very high state of readiness,” and further missions instead occurring in space.
“That doesn’t have to be destabilizing,” he said of the changes. “It might actually be more stabilizing when it comes to great power competition than say some of the vulnerabilities that both sides have today.”