Underpinning modernisation efforts in the Australian and US Air Forces is the shared recognition that success in the future battle space depends foremost on the speed and integration of information. The sheer volume and quality of information available to fifth-generation fighters, given their multi-spectral sensors, processing power, and connectivity, means they represent a leading element in this new operating paradigm.

The concept of a Combat Cloud, however, transcends not just fifth-generation fighters, but also aerospace power writ large. By harnessing technological advancements in computing and information technology, the Combat Cloud promotes the ubiquitous and seamless exchange of information across platforms, domains, services, and coalition partners. This will enable commanders to make faster decisions that better integrate actions across domains in a manner that enhances the effectiveness of the whole, compensates for vulnerabilities, and maximises overall capacity to exploit opportunities.

Chris Westwood offers an insightful overview of what ‘fifth generation warfare’ looks like in the Air Battle Management context, to include the leverage provided by Combat Cloud functionality. Critically, he underscores that transitioning from an industrial age paradigm to one required in the information age is not just about hardware and software, but instead requires a holistic approach based on a common vision that spans the entire defence enterprise.