SPX, January, 5 2006
In December, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) proved quick to answer the fleet’s request to install technology on F-14 Tomcats that gives boots on the ground an eye in the sky. In early November, aviators serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom requested their Tomcats have the technology to download data to Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receivers (ROVER) – laptop computers that give troops the ability to view their surroundings from the aircraft’s point of view. (more)
This is interesting for a couple reasons. For anyone who grew up watching Top Gun, it may be sad to see F-14s slowly taken out of the fighter role and increasing put into the attack and recon roles. However, like B-52s providing close air support and trident subs launch cruise missiles and UAVs, this is another example of interpretive flexibility. It is also an example of the increasinlgy blurred boundaries between ISR and strike platforms. If soldiers are increasingly being seen "as sensors", then so are platforms traditionally meant for other tasks. Information-gathering sensors of many types will increasingly be embedded in all platforms, regardless of their primary function. Next, the theme of information sharing and integration is important here. It is increasingly important not just to collect information, but to have that information in a format that can be shared quickly and effectively.