The Air and Space Power Conference 2020 marked a defining moment in placing information advantage at the heart of the Next Generation Air Force.
The aptly themed conference truly tested ideas and technology, as the conference was delivered virtually for the first time.
In his keynote address, Defence Secretary The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP announced the MOD had signed a £65-million contract for the production of the UK’s first Protector aircraft. Due to be in service by 2024, the Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) will deliver a step-change in capability for the RAF.
Opening the conference, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston announced the expansion of 216 Squadron’s operational trials to evaluate the operation of swarming drones. He went onto reference further developments would be expected towards the end of the year.
Integration was a key theme of the conference - across technology, domains and Services.
In his address, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin referenced the expanse of space and cyber across traditional domains had resulted in the armed services operating in one interconnected and integrated world.
General John Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, Commander, U.S. Space Command, began his address reflecting on the Royal Air Force and U.S. Space Force alliance, working together to secure space superiority for both nations.
As the Royal Air Force embarks on its second century, it is focussing on the development of its Next Generation Air Force.
Sgt Tia Gillon referenced in her presentation that many new recruits were entering the RAF with existing skills in coding and application and software development. She outlined how the RAF E-Sports and Video Gaming Association developed attributes transferable and relevant to serving in the RAF, such as leadership and real-time decision making.
With the virtual Air and Space Power Conference complete, the RAF turns next to the virtual Air Tattoo,18-19 July - a live streamed event offering virtual flying displays, interviews and previously unseen footage.