Scientific Advisory Board Launches RPA Study, Others

The Air Force Scientific Advisory Board announced on Tuesday its launch of three studies, all of which it intends to complete by year’s end, according to Werner Dahm, SAB chair. One will study how useful unmanned air vehicles can be in contested and denied environments. Dahm, at an SAB event in Arlington, Va., told reporters the Air Force is taking a “strategic pause” in developing remotely piloted aircraft to get a better handle on what kinds of vehicles it needs and what capabilities they should have. He emphasized that RPAs should not simply be looked at for “high-end, denied environments” and “permissive” battlespaces, but for the whole spectrum of scenarios in between. Today’s RPAs may be useful for a lot of missions short of the worst case, he said, especially given some modifications to their sensors and weapons. In the second study, the SAB will look at the utility of quantum systems for rapid decryption, sensing, precision clocks accurate to femtoseconds, and inertial measurement. A third study will examine cyber vulnerabilities of embedded systems on Air Force air and space systems. Such systems aren’t hooked to the Internet, but might be vulnerable to attack anyway. Dahm said the SAB would assess offensive practices among many other approaches to secure Air Force operating systems. (See also Scientific Advisory Board 2015 Study Topics Released.)