Dubai – Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and with the support of the UAE Ministry of Defence and the UAE Air Force and Air Defense, SEGMA held the 9th Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference under the title of “The Future of Air Power: Building a more Agile and Adapting Fighting Force – Balancing the High and Low-Tech Solutions” on November 16, 2019 at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai. The conference gathered notable officials from the UAE, senior representatives from industry partners, and high level delegations from numerous countries, including Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic Denmark, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, KSA, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States of America.
DIAC 2019 was also supported by leading industry partners such as the conference’s Advanced Technology Partner, The Edge Group; Gold Sponsor, Raytheon; Gala Dinner Sponsor, Lockheed Martin, and; Associate Sponsors SAAB, MBDA, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. Official Media Partners included Nation Shield, Al Jundi Journal and Defense News; Online Arabic Media Partner: SDArabia, and Media Partners: Arabian Aerospace, African Aerospace, Defence 21, Al Defaiya, Aeromag, Militär Aktuell (Military News), Defense and Aerospace Report, Aerospace & Defense International.
The opening session was inaugurated by Riad Kahwaji, Chief Executive Officer, SEGMA, who gave a warm welcome to UAE officials, international delegations, and industry representatives and valued the continued distinguished support of the UAE Ministry of Defense and the UAE Air Force and Air Defense to DIAC. Kahwaji explained how technological breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence, nano technology, cyber security and 3D printing are providing many opportunities to the world of defense industry and modern warfare. For this purpose, the conference’s sessions will explore the challenges that accompany such technological advances along with the progresses that can take place if such technologies were adopted appropriately.
On behalf of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Defense and Ruler of Dubai, the keynote speech was delivered by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, President of the Department of Civil Aviation, CEO and Chairman of The Emirates Group and Chairman of Dubai World. His Highness Sheikh Ahmed praised the timing of the conference which comes at a period where the whole Middle East region, including the Arabian Gulf are witnessing conflicts undermining peace and stability. “This requires us to be more united and vigilant against the forces that undermine peace and also to maintain the war of terrorism that continues to pose a serious threat to the international community. The UAE Air Force and Air Defense has been in in the forefront in the war on terrorism, and has also played a major role in both combating terror as well as in transporting aid and emergency supplies to disaster-stricken areas around the world.” He also discussed the importance of the UAE’s space program which has recently sent its first astronaut, Hazzaa AlMansoori on a mission to the international space station. “This is all part of a strategy by the UAE leadership to transfer all sorts of technologies to the country, including space, aviation, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and information technology in order to become more self-dependent and self-sufficient.” Hazzaa AlMansoori which was attending the first session, was also recognized by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum.
The welcome speech was delivered by Major General Rashed Al Shamsi, Deputy Commander, UAE Air Force and Air Defense who reiterated the significance of the Dubai Air Show held biennially which brings together both civilian and military personnel from across countries to interact and cooperate in the defense and security sectors. He also explained that Artificial Intelligence and other advance technologies are being applied in many sectors in the UAE like transportation, media and others.
Session One entitled “Embracing Next Generation Technologies” was moderated by Major General (Ret.) Khaled Al Bu Ainnain Al Mazrouei, Former Commander, UAE Air Force and Air Defense who stated that 2nd generation capabilities can no longer support new platforms; hence operators should be trained on integrating and disseminating advanced data. General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff, United States Air Force gave a presentation on “Transitioning to a Multi-Domain Operations Air Force: Harnessing 4IR Technologies to Better Enhance Air Power Generation and Effectiveness”. General Goldfein commended the solid relationship between the US and the UAE and stated that both nations had a winning narrative and shared common values worth defending, like the preservation of peace.
The following presentation entitled “Examining the Enabling Technologies Required for UK’s Future Air Combat Strategy” was given by Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, United Kingdom. He stated that “international collaboration is at the heart of the UK’s air combat strategy, and one of its greatest strengths.” Major General Ibrahim Naser Al Alawi, Commander, UAE Air Force and Air Defense gave a presentation on “Building a More Agile and Adaptive Fighting Force.” He described the development of industries from mechanization to automation, leading to current cyber physical systems, emphasizing the importance of continuously training future airmen on technological changes. The last presentation in this session was given by General Philippe Lavigne, Chief of Staff, French Air Force under the title “Enhanced Stealth, Sensor Fusion & Autonomy: Imagining Tomorrow’s 6th Generation Fighter Requirements.” He stated that building a successful future combat air system depends on three key areas: enhanced collaborative combat, automation and connectivity.
Session Two entitled “Addressing the Current and Future Operational Requirements” was moderated by Vice Admiral (Ret) Robert S. Harward Jr., Chief Executive – Middle East, Lockheed Martin. The first presentation was given by Lieutenant General Joseph T. Guastella Jr., Commander, US Air Forces Central Command on “Integrating 3rd, 4th & 5th Gen Assets into a Cohesive Fighting Force: Balancing the High & Low-Tech Solutions.” He stated that 3rd generation systems are being integrated with 4th and 5th generation platforms such as the F-16, F-15 and F-22, which in turn establishes a cohesive fighting force. “Integration takes part through interoperability, common standards and multilateral training.” This was followed by a presentation on “Manned- Unmanned Teaming: Optimizing Force Structure in a Fiscally Constrained Environment” by Air Vice-Marshal Stephen Meredith AM/ DSM, Deputy Chief, Royal Australian Air Force. He stressed on the importance of teaming between manned and unmanned systems to optimize force structure in a fiscally constrained environment. He considered that a fifth-generation system is one component in an interconnected system of systems, and the teaming between manned and unmanned systems will increase situational awareness. The last topic in this session was on “Cooperative Engagement: Establishing a More Capable and Dynamic MDC2 Architecture”, presented by Rear Admiral Rodney P. DeWalt, Deputy Commander, Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), United States. He highlighted the importance of maintaining the waters in the region and recognizing its criticality to regional prosperity and market opportunities. He added that “responding to all kinds of threats requires a unified effort in the missions through creating a shield of surveillance and joining forces to collect and share information.”
Session Three on “Leading and Training the Future Force” was moderated by Alan Davis, Chief Executive, Raytheon Emirates. Lieutenant General Alexander Donald Meinzinger, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force commenced this session with a presentation on “Meeting Future Challenges through People: The Race to Retain and Increase Experience.” This mainly addressed the needs of tomorrow’s air force and the upcoming challenges that will arise. He stated that “we must remind ourselves that focusing on the people is the only way to enable success in the future.” The next presentation on “Developing a Culture of Innovation: Leadership in a Time of Disruptive Change” was given by Lieutenant General J.D. Luyt, Commander, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Netherlands. He emphasized the importance of exploring cyber and electronic warfare application in air and space domain, embracing robotics, and stimulating experimentation in acquiring a 5th generation mindset and organization. The last presentation on “Optimizing 4th & 5th Generation Aircraft Training: A Modular and Versatile Learning Approach” was given by Lieutenant General Aurelio Colagrande, Commander, Air Education and Training Command, Italy. Lieutenant General Colagrande spoke about his country’s effort towards delivering advanced and lead-in to fighter training to prepare future air warriors and next generation fighter pilots. He mentioned a collaboration agreement between Leonardo and the Italian Air Force in the Farnborough International Air Show 2018 to establish an all new “International Flight Training School” (IFTS) to support military pilot training.
Dr. Fahad Al Yafei, President, EDGE gave a final statement at the end of the conference mentioning their company’s commitment in reimagining aviation capabilities and supporting its unprecedented growth and development, given that Air Force and Air Defence are key areas of focus for militaries nowadays.
DIAC 2019 concluded with enormous success.