The 8th Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference 

The 8th Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference 
November 11, 2017

A Perspective On The Future Of Air Power


Thank you, for that kind introduction, Riad.

I want to begin by acknowledging the gracious patron of this visionary conference, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. I also want to thank Major General Ibrahim Naser Al Alawi.

I am honored by his personal invitation to offer closing remarks this afternoon.

The theme of this conference focuses on a topic that has never been more important: the future of air power.

How we respond to the promise and potential of air power will determine the course of the 21st century.

Essential Role of Air Power

No domain of warfare or frontier of human knowledge demands more technological sophistication, broad capability, or information sharing than air power. 

And no arena of national security offers more opportunities for international cooperation and coordinated defense.

As we look at the challenges of the 21st century, it is clear that we will need to understand the foundations and the imperatives of air power.

In my meetings across the globe, government and military leaders have emphasized that their nations have never faced a more wide-ranging array of threats.

These threats are increasingly unpredictable, asymmetric, and intercontinental.

They range from non-state actors launching attacks from around the world to nations seeking regional dominance and global influence.

Here in the Middle East, these hard realities of the 21st century are well known. 

There is the shared fight against extremist groups such as Al Qaeda and Daesh.

Meanwhile, governments throughout the region are grappling with the instability and humanitarian crisis occasioned by the Syrian conflict.

At the same time, we see Iran seeking to expand its power and reach across borders and into other nations.

In Europe, leaders are also feeling significant pressures, as they seek to deal with security challenges ranging from lone-wolf terrorists and cyber attacks, to territorial annexation.

And the entire world now watches the developments in North Korea, where every week carries breaking news of nuclear tests, ballistic missile launches, and overt threats to other nations.

These security developments are wide-ranging and complex – and each has the potential to adversely impact the lives of billions of people beyond the borders or regions where they occur.

As leaders around the world seek to protect their people from these and other emerging threats, the role of air power will be critical.

Role of Lockheed Martin

At Lockheed Martin, it is our job to think long and hard about the nature of air power and what it offers our customers, as both a means of defense and a bridge to cooperation.

For decades, we’ve been a proud partner with many of the nations represented here today – including the Air Force of the United Arab Emirates. 

We have seen our technologies establish and enhance air power on vital defense programs like the C-130 airlifter, the PAC-3 missile, and the THAAD missile defense system.

And, of course, we have shown how revolutionary air platforms can drive national defense efforts forward.  

Today, the Air Force of the UAE flies the Block 60 F-16 “Desert Falcon,” the most advanced fourth-generation fighter aircraft operating today.

With its cutting-edge upgrades, this indispensable aircraft remains at the forefront of international security.

Maximizing the Full Potential of Air Power

So, given the tremendous value of air power, how can government and industry work together to maximize its full potential – and ensure that peaceful nations maintain their technological advantage?

Based on the lessons we’ve learned at Lockheed Martin from our work with our valued partners, I’d like to share three strategic actions nations can take to help maintain and sustain air power.

The first action is to make sustained investments in research, development, and procurement of defense and aerospace systems.

As was suggested earlier, the key to air power is to maintain a technological advantage over potential adversaries.

In a rapidly evolving threat environment, nations must sustain and accelerate their R&D.

They must anticipate the challenges they will face years – and even decades into the future.

And they must focus their resources on the development of advanced aircraft and other defense solutions that will be adaptable to the evolving battlespace.

When nations make sustained investments in aircraft research, development, and procurement, they provide aerospace and defense industry partners with the stability needed to make their own investments in the technologies of the future.

Sustained investment also leads to integrated solutions that are more affordable and cost-effective.

Such planning and disciplined commitment enables economies of scale that drive down the per-unit cost of aircraft, resulting in significant savings.

The second action I’d like to discuss is the promotion of greater cooperation and interoperability between nations that share broad interests in regional and global stability.

The future of air power will be determined by the ability of advanced platforms from allied nations to work together as sensor-rich nodes within a system of systems.

Allied countries can achieve battlespace dominance when we operate with common platforms, on shared systems that allow for seamless communication and information sharing.

Today’s multi-domain threats require 360-degree awareness and response capabilities that transcend political boundaries.

The THAAD missile system in place here in the UAE is a prime example. It was the first THAAD deployment outside the territorial United States.

It has the capability to provide regional protection in concert with the systems of neighboring allies.

The greatest benefit of international cooperation is the way in which it brings people together.

When peaceful nations effectively operate and train together, we send a clear message to potential adversaries that we are prepared to act in a resolute and coordinated way to preserve the security of our people and maintain stability around the world.

In this international effort, few nations have been a stronger leader or more decisive lynchpin than the UAE. 

As the host of the bi-annual Advanced Tactical Leadership Course, and a regular participant in “Red Flag” exercises in the United States, the UAE has become a leader in multinational military training.

In addition, cooperative efforts between the defense-industrial bases of individual nations foster robust innovation, job growth, and economic opportunity that benefit all participating countries.

The third action need for maintaining air power is to develop a workforce with the skills to maintain technological leadership.

The knowledge and abilities of our people are the foundation of our competitive advantages in the defense and aerospace realm.

However, in today’s global marketplace, the competition for human capital is more fierce than ever before.

Governments, businesses, and community organizations must come together to ensure that their nations have education systems that will equip the next generation with the skills needed to solve the security challenges of the 21st century.

Today’s students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – which are often referred to as the “STEM” fields – will be the developers of the next generation of platforms, sensors, and systems.

And these are the technologies that are the world’s best hope to defeat emerging threats.

Lockheed Martin is committed to helping build the STEM talent pipeline needed – all around the world, including here in the UAE.

Later this afternoon, I will visit with Emirati university students who are participating in our Unmanned Aerial System Payload Design Challenge, which we’ve launched in partnership with Mubadala Aerospace and Engineering Services.

One of these six teams is working to develop a payload for our Indago unmanned aerial vehicle that would be used for monitoring the electricity and water usage of residences in remote areas.

Such technological breakthroughs can increase efficiency, save money, and spur economic growth.

By working together in an active and intentional way, government and business leaders can develop the talent that will create the next generation of technologies to shape the future.


I’ll conclude by saying thank you, once again, to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and to General Ibrahim for the opportunity to provide Lockheed Martin’s perspective on the future of air power.|

As we continue to navigate a volatile and complex threat environment, it’s more important than ever for allied nations to have a coordinated strategy for maintaining air superiority.

Through sustained investment in defense, a stronger focus on interoperability, and the development of a global 21st century workforce, I’m confident that our respective nations will continue to lead the world toward peace and prosperity for all citizens.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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