5th Generation Air C2 and ISR provides tangible recommendations about improving Air C2 and ISR systems, their integration, collaboration and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) at the tactical level, including the possible application of a combat cloud, and towards F-35 employment and follow-on development. It furthermore explores the possibility for distribution of control towards the tactical edge, concluding that RAAF and RNLAF should further pursue this concept. The paper also looks at command and ISR at the operational level and strategic employment of F-35 and draws two conclusions: first, that new concepts for Air C2 and ISR related to F-35 employment deserve increased attention from RAAF and RNLAF, and second, that successfully employing F-35 requires strong(er) influence of RAAF and RNLAF at the operational and strategic level. Overall, the paper recommends possible ways in which RAAF and RNLAF could cooperate to face the Air C2 and ISR challenges and opportunities that come with the transition to a 5th Generation Air Force. This could involve stimulation and facilitating international discussion on new concepts for Air C2 and ISR.

The paper provides a framework for 5th Generation Air C2 and ISR, which illustrates the importance of coherence among Air C2, ISR, collaboration and ICT when formulating requirements for system improvements, tied to enhancing Air C2 – ISR integration at the tactical level. It can also be used as a framework to further discuss the new concepts for Air C2 and ISR related to F-35 employment. Furthermore, the framework supports a broader view of these concepts, including the required professional mastery, collaboration and ICT. Hence, it could also be used as a point of departure for further Air C2 and ISR analysis and concept development to support the transformation towards a 5th Generation Air Force.