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Wright Flyers

Wright Flyers are occasional papers sponsored by the Air Command and Staff College (ACSC). The ACSC prints and distributes a limited run of each paper. AU Press does not stock any titles in the Wright Flyers series and they are available in PDF only.

  •  Bridging the Gap: How an Airborne Mobile-Mesh Network Can Overcome Space Vulnerabilities in Tomorrow’s Fight

    Bridging the Gap: How an Airborne Mobile-Mesh Network Can Overcome Space Vulnerabilities in Tomorrow’s Fight

    Maj Travis Patterson
    The US Air Force’s heavy reliance on space capabilities makes it vulnerable to potentially crippling asymmetric multi-domain attacks in the near future. While Air Force leaders have identified the importance of maintaining dominance in the space domain, their goal of attaining resilient and survivable systems in the future is not immediately attainable. Peer competitors and potential adversaries already possess several operational and developmental capabilities, which place critical US space assets on the losing side of a cost-exchange battle. An option to mitigate many of these risks exists in an airborne mobile-mesh network hosted initially by the Air Force’s high-altitude ISR platforms. Both the U-2S Dragon Lady and RQ-4B Global Hawk provide an excellent foundation upon which the Air Force can field and operationalize an airborne mobile-mesh network in the battlespace to augment critical space capabilities. Compared to the extreme cost of vulnerable satellites, such a network could be cost-efficient and provide improved resilient capabilities to the Joint Force without requiring drastic changes in operational tactics, techniques, and procedures. This research proposes that the US Air Force rapidly field a mobile-mesh network using existing technology and platforms, and then continue to build the network and processing capabilities over the next decade. The Air Force’s vulnerabilities in space have the potential to impact combat operations in every domain across the globe. It is time to capitalize upon research and investments already made and make the first step toward a truly connected and networked force. [Maj Travis Patterson / 2019 / 48 pages / ISSN: 2687-7260 / AU Press Code: WF-71]
  •  C-130 Programmed Depot Maintenance

    C-130 Programmed Depot Maintenance

    Maj John A. Daniels, USAF
    The current USAF process for establishing C-130 programmed depot maintenance (PDM) intervals does not account for the wide range of aircraft variables within each aircraft MDS. This paper develops an analytical model that C-130 maintainers can use to forecast when a C-130 aircraft requires PDM. The model is based on five unique aircraft variables: (1) aircraft age, (2) total flying hours, (3) average yearly flying hours, (4) mission profile (expressed as a severity factor), and (5) operating location of the aircraft. Interviews with C-130 SPO personnel, combined with use of the C-130 Service Life Data Base, provided the required data for developing the C-130 PDM interval model. The C-130 PDM interval model developed in this paper allows maintainers and operators to predict the optimum time between C-130 PDM activities. It eliminates the requirement to base PDM intervals on aircraft MDS. As a result, there is a potential for significant savings by deferring PDM for a portion of the C-130 fleet. Finally, the PDM interval model developed in this paper may be applicable for other Department of Defense aircraft for which MDS is used as the determinant of PDM intervals. [Maj John A. Daniels, USAF 1998 / 33 pages / ISBN: AU Press Code: WF-1]
  •  Center of Gravity Analysis and Operational Design

    Center of Gravity Analysis and Operational Design

    Maj Jacob Barfoed, Royal Danish Air Force
    Center of Gravity Analysis and Operational Design: Ensuring a Logical Linkage among National Strategic Objectives; Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic Instruments of Power; and the Military Campaign Combatant commanders already use the center of gravity (COG) concept when analyzing their operational environment; however, this analysis is normally performed after the president has established the strategic objectives for the US government agencies. This defies the purpose of analyzing the strategic COGs: determining the adversary’s vulnerabilities to available instruments of power. This paper recommends that strategic COG analysis be done at the National Security Council level. [Maj Jacob Barfoed, Royal Danish Air Force / 2009 / 31 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: WF-38]
  •  Center of Gravity or Center of Confusion

    Center of Gravity or Center of Confusion

    Maj Seow Hiang Lee, Republic of Singapore Air Force
    Despite its crucial role in campaign planning, the center of gravity (COG) concept remains poorly understood and inconsistently applied. This research paper seeks to understand the common sources of confusion that can occur when the COG concept is employed. It investigates the extent to which these inconsistencies can be resolved and the implications for the employment of the concept when these inconsistencies persist. To address these core questions, the paper first highlights the confusions that are caused by an incomplete reading of Clausewitz`s theoretical framework that underpins his magnum opus On War. The analysis then proceeds to distill the additional sources of confusion that can lead to disagreements during the employment of the concept. This paper discusses the contentious issues of inconsistency in definitions, misunderstandings regarding the nature of the COG concept, divergent services` perceptions, and finally, inconsistencies that are caused by the inherent unpredictability of war. The ideas are then applied historically to help understand the anomalies that arose during the Persian Gulf War. Unlike previous studies which purport that much of the confusion can be easily removed by having clearer and more unambiguous definitions, the findings suggest otherwise; the sources of confusion are multifarious, and some may not even be amenable to complete resolution. The implication of having these enduring inconsistencies is neither to jettison the concept nor to return to a reductionist concept of the COG but to confront nonlinearities by applying the principles of systems thinking, superior leadership, and decisive action that is supported by a flexible feedback system. [Maj Seow Hiang Lee, Republic of Singapore Air Force / 1999, 43 pages ISBN: / AU Press Code: WF-10]
  •  Cleared to Engage

    Cleared to Engage

    Major Michael H. Johnson, USMC
    The importance of close air support (CAS) has markedly increased over the last five years in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Ground forces have increasingly relied on the effects that airpower provides and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. This has occurred while CAS doctrine and execution have undergone radical changes. While the fundamentals of a serviceperson with a radio calling in air support have remained relatively constant since World War II, the level of mission complexity has steadily increased. Digital communications, precision-guided munitions, collateral damage considerations, effects-based operations, and a “joint” battlefield have placed increased requirements on terminal attack controllers and CAS aircrew. CAS has been a heavily debated topic within the services for decades. CAS doctrine and training issues have affected aircraft procurement, interservice relationships, and the application and effectiveness of airpower on the battlefield. This has produced numerous Congressional inquiries and service introspection on how to “get it right.” While much progress has been made since 2001, the services must continue to make CAS more effective. On the modern battlefield, the joint application of firepower is a reality, not a concept. It is time to “engage” the doctrinal and training challenges facing our services in order to increase the effectiveness of our aviation forces in the CAS arena. [Major Michael H. Johnson, USMC / 2012 / ISBN: / AU Press Code: WF-36]
  •  Cognitive Radio Cloud Networks: Assured Access in the Future Electromagnetic Operating Environment

    Cognitive Radio Cloud Networks: Assured Access in the Future Electromagnetic Operating Environment

    Maj Lawrence O. Jones, USMC
    The electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) is a finite resource critical to the US military’s ability to gain superiority in the five war-fighting domains. The Department of Defense’s (DOD) electromagnetic strategy is spectrum access, when and where needed, to achieve mission success. However, the future electromagnetic operating environment will find gaining assured access increasingly difficult due not only to adversaries actively contesting it, but also to the congestion attributed to the exponential growth in commercial and civilian access. Despite these signs, the US federal government and the DOD continue to cling to a century-old model for managing the EMS. A revolution is in order. This paper explores how the collision between technological advances in software-defined radios, machine learning, and cloud computing offers a viable solution to this growing problem. That solution is cognitive radio cloud networks. [Maj Lawrence O. Jones, USMC / 2018 / 41 pages / AU Press Code: WF-63]
  •  Combat Search and Rescue: Restoring Promise to a Sacred Assurance

    Combat Search and Rescue: Restoring Promise to a Sacred Assurance

    Maj Brandon T. Losacker
    This research paper analyzes historical data from Southeast Asia, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Allied Force to identify combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter shortfalls that endanger viable personnel recovery in a major theater war. It identifies still-relevant survivability requirements and suggests a helicopter fleet size based on historical asset density ratios. A comparative mission planning analysis reframes the benefit of increased helicopter speed in terms of reduced fighter and tanker requirements for long-range CSAR. This analysis of historical and contemporary issues informs a four-phase proposal to equip and organize the CSAR helicopter force for future relevance. [Maj Brandon T. Losacker / 2019 / 116 pages / ISSN: 2687-7260 / AU Press Code: WF-68]
  •  Counterinsurgency Aircraft Procurement Options

    Counterinsurgency Aircraft Procurement Options

    Maj David L. Peeler, Jr., USAF
    Although aircraft have shown to be effective in small wars, the United States Air Force currently does not possess counterinsurgency (COIN) aircraft of the type advocated by many students of small wars. Little attention is placed on obtaining a COIN operations platform; however, within academic circles and the special operations community, the need for a “low-tech” airborne participant in COIN operations is gaining traction. Acquiring a weapons system platform is serious business, with meticulously defined processes and authorities. By examining opportunities to turn ideas into aircraft, Major Peeler identifies specific authorities, processes, requirements, and methodologies for quickly procuring an aircraft for COIN operations. [Maj David L. Peeler, Jr., USAF / 2009 / 45 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: WF-40]
  •  Designing Bare Base Systems for Logistics Efficiency in the Joint Operational Environment

    Designing Bare Base Systems for Logistics Efficiency in the Joint Operational Environment

    Maj William D. Trautman Jr., USAF
    The current service-centric approach to bare base capability has produced capability overlaps and logistics inefficiencies. The two primary bare base systems—the Air Force Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources (BEAR) and the Army Force Provider—have limited interoperability. In recent conflicts, the lack of joint doctrine or joint bare base architecture has hampered the ability of the services to achieve fully operational forward locations within a satisfactory length of time. The current approach to bare base operations is at odds with Department of Defense (DOD) transformation plans, which direct the development of joint, interdependent capabilities to support the current operating environment, in which interservice operations and rapid deployments are the norm. The DOD also has a domestic requirement to contribute to disaster response and homeland security operations, which may be slowed or complicated by service-specific bare base capabilities. To prepare for operations in a joint environment and eliminate inefficiencies, the services should establish a joint bare base architecture that is simplified, modular, and interchangeable. This study proposes a joint architecture that potentially would reduce the resources required to procure, move, store, and maintain bare base assets. Because expeditionary basing is one of its distinctive capabilities, the Air Force should be designated as the executive agent for joint bare base operations, with each service continuing to train its bare base support forces and meet its service-specific requirements. [Maj William D. Trautman Jr., USAF / 2007 / 29 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: WF-28]
  •  Electronic Combat Support for an Expeditionary Air Force

    Electronic Combat Support for an Expeditionary Air Force

    LCDR James C. Rentfrow, USN
    The United States Air Force (USAF) currently faces a shortfall in the type and number of electronic combat (EC) aircraft capable of operating with an Aerospace Expeditionary Wing (AEW). This has a direct impact on the USAF’s global attack core competency and undermines the combat power of any deployed AEW. Why have EC assets been allowed to deteriorate to this state? The answer begins with people, who have a flawed understanding of the theory of airpower. Because the theory is not understood correctly, money is not dedicated to the needed technology. Because the technology isn’t developed or is lacking, that community-if you will-fails to get representation at the higher levels of leadership. This cycle of organizational behavior repeats itself over and over until acted upon by an outside force-in this case the shootdown of a US F-117 during the Kosovo action. This is not the first time that the USAF has been through this cycle of organizational behavior. The almost exact same scenario played out in the famous pursuit versus bombers debates of the 1930s. Pursuit lost out and thereby lost money, technology, and people in key leadership positions. It was not until the horrific bomber losses of 1943 that leaders fully realized the mistake they had made. This paper explores the connection between the two stories, looks at the current state of EC, and offers some suggestions for the future. [LCDR James C. Rentfrow, USN / 2001 / 34 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: WF-15]
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