The Navy is implementing a concept that improves data link connectivity between its aircraft and sea-based assets, and is in the early stages of bringing the Air Force on board, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said Wednesday. The concept, called Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA), figures prominently into the Navy’s just-released Naval Aviation Vision: 2014-2025. “AirSea Battle brought this together, the (NIFC-CA) concept,” Greenert said. “How do we integrate submarines, things in the sea, and everything in the air … to operate across the domain to bring a common effect?” While there are elements of NIFC-CA being tested in Navy-Air Force exercises, such as Northern Edge and Valiant Shield, broader integration “needs to be better, but we are working on it,” said Greenert. The key, he added, is to “sort through the tactical nets,” such as the ones USAF uses for the F-35A, with the Naval net for the F-35C, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, as well as nets for USAF assets like E-8 Joint STARS, to enable the platforms to share and pass information back and forth for situational awareness and targeting purposes. The Air Force has great capability to complement NIFC-CA, Greenert said, and more work must be done to tie those cross-service capabilities together.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.