Third Offset for Air Force

The Air Force’s forthcoming new strategic master plan will include “an annex that is purely science and technology,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh. The Air Force is already a technology-focused service, so Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work’s new push for game-changing technologies that can “offset” adversary advances “is good for us,” Welsh told reporters at a “State of the Air Force” briefing at the Pentagon on Jan. 15. The Air Force’s own strategic plan will “tie very closely into this effort,” he said. Candidate game-changers, Welsh enumerated, include hypersonics; new high-efficiency engines that could save 25 percent on fuel; directed energy, initially for “laser defense against air-to-air [or] surface-to-air missiles,” but later for quantum computing and communications; and investments in “human capital development, in terms of education and training.” The strategic master plan’s rollout is anticipated sometime after the service’s Fiscal 2016 budget proposal comes out next month. (James-Welsh transcript)