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Military Connection: The “Combat Cloud” By Debbie Gregory

combat cloudThe U.S. military has invested a lot of money into its efforts to maintain dominance in air combat. An F-15 Eagle can cost up to $30 million, a single F-22 Raptor comes with a price tag of $150 million, and an F-35 Lighting ranges from $1.24 million to $1.56 million. But for all that money, there is a deplorable gap in the capability of our aircraft and resources to share data.

An effort is in the works to bring leaders from each of the DOD branches together with pioneers in industry and academia, in order to develop what is being called the “combat cloud,” a means to share data across aircraft, ships and satellites. The concept of the “combat cloud” is based on the idea of commercial clouds, commonly used to access and share data across different devices including smartphones, laptops, DVRs and other devices.

The “combat cloud” is still in the concept stage. The largest obstacle to the development of such a program mainly revolves around defending the system from intrusion. While it would be highly beneficial to have all of our air resources sharing and accessing data, there is the realistic threat that the data could be accessed by unfriendly units, or even worse, misinformation could be uploaded into the “combat cloud” by the enemy.

The ultimate success of implementing a usable “combat cloud” is likely to take a decade or so to be completed. The program is looking for a way to connect fighters, intelligence aircraft, satellites, ships and helicopters to form an overarching network of data that each platform could add to and access, even during missions.

Currently, the Navy is attempting to connect its forces via the Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter Air (Nifca) plan that networks its ships and aircraft to protect assets at sea from attack.

The Air Force’s fleet of aircraft was not designed to interconnect. Cut backs and programmatic delays mean F-22s and F-35s will be fighting alongside fourth-generation F-15’s and F-16’s beyond 2030.  The branch is trying to come up with the most effective way to link its multi-era fleet. The Air Force’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB, MA is planning to release a request for information for industry for a gateway between their different era aircraft.

Many in the aviation community believe that a data sharing system of some sort is an easy fix and could be done in a matter of months. But with DOD cutbacks and the scaling down of other major projects, the “combat cloud” could take a back seat to other areas that desperately need funding. For now, Washington isn’t convinced that there are any unfriendly countries that pose a reasonable threat to the U.S. military’s dominance of the air.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: The “Combat Cloud” By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: F-22s Finally See Action: By Debbie Gregory

F22 RaptorOn September 22, 2014, the U.S. led airstrikes against Islamic State Forces in Syria dominated the media, and rightfully so. Five Arab nations joined in the assault, with four of them sending aircraft to join the U.S. The strikes were as symbolic as they were devastating to the terrorist militants, sending a clear message that they aren’t just being singled out by Americans, they are being eliminated by the world. But another momentous event happened that has been overlooked. During the airstrikes, the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor flew its first combat mission.

The F-22 is a stealth tactical fighter developed by the Air Force as its ultimate weapon in the air. In addition to its maneuverability, the Raptor’s weapons and detection capabilities make it the perfect weapon in air superiority. The Air Force had 187 commissioned between 2005 and 2011. Many pilots believe the F-22 is unmatched in air-to-air capabilities.

The F-22 fleet has been held back from combat operations, largely due to the small size of its fleet. The Pentagon originally planned on a major buy of the Lockheed Martin-built jets. But the high cost of the Raptor, combined with the constant campaigns against foes with limited air capabilities, and the general lack of any fighters that match the F-22, caused the DOD to abandon further production.

Air Force officials confirmed that the Raptor was used as part of the mission in Syria, along with F-15E, F-16, F/A-18 and B-1 bombers. The Air Force didn’t specify the number of each type aircraft used. The American aircraft were assisted by other aircraft from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, Tomahawk missiles were launched in support from the U.S. Navy warships the  USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and the USS Philippine Sea (CG-51). The destroyer and cruiser were steaming in international waters in the Red Sea and the Northern Arabian Gulf.

The F-22 can carry up to six AIM-120 advanced, medium-range, air-to-air missiles, or two AIM-120s and two GBU-32 joint direct-attack munitions for air-to-ground strikes. It also carries an internal 20mm gun and two AIM-9 Sidewinders in internal weapon bays.

With Washington and world leaders claiming that Monday’s strikes were just the beginning of a sustained campaign against the Islamic State, the F-22 Raptor will likely get additional chances to prove its worth and its superiority.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: F-22s Finally See Action: By Debbie Gregory