Riad Kahwaji, CEO of INEGMA welcomed the conference delegates and guests and spoke about the importance of the conference in today's strategic and operational environment. He emphasized the special role that air power and air operations play in a changing strategic in-balance in the region.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority & Chairman of the Emirates Group, delivered the keynote speech on behalf of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. HH Sheikh Ahmed argued that the UAE seeks peaceful relations with all of her neighbors. At the same time, HH Sheikh Ahmed stated that the UAE seeks to have the best and strongest air forces for protecting the Emirates from any future threat. He called the Emirates as safe and strong despite the global economic crisis.
Major General Mohammed Bin Swaidan Saeed Al Gamzi, Commander of the UAE Air Force and Air Defense, welcomed the speakers and guests. He stated that the Dubai Airshow 2009 is Dubai's foremost commercial and military airpower event that has grown over the years to be the region's premier function with thousands of exhibitors this year around. Following the speech INEGMA and the main sponsor delivered gifts to the keynote speaker.
First Plenary Session:
Session One, chaired by INEGMA President General (Ret.) Khaled Abdullah Al Bu-Ainnain, featured two speakers. Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force General Norton A. Schwartz examined the role of UAVs in Air Combat. He argued that the role of UAV's in airpower is to augment security and stability and that pilotless aircraft is the wave of the future. He noted however that training staff to operate a vehicle is about into the 80 specialists and it takes several years of training. So a whole new air force needs to be created of specialists in these types of pilotless mission. Significantly there is a 300 percent increase in information that is being received from the "human-less operations." Chief of Staff of the French Air Force General Jean-Paul Palomeros discussed network centric operations, challenges and solutions. He pointed out the need to be visionary between seemless manned and unmanned capability and that air forces need to ide ntify and full in unmanned aircraft by teaming with sister services in industry and academy. During the panel discussion a lively discussion took place explaining the greater need for interoperability, cultural awareness, and the human element throughout the regional air forces.
Second Plenary Session:
Session Two, chaired by INEGMA Director of Research and Development Dr. Theodore Karasik, consisted of three speakers. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force Lieutenant General Giuseppe Bernardis looked at electronic warfare in modern air power operations. He suggested that as electronic warfare is evolving there are technological challenges arising ranging between communication, radius of integrated air defense system, and optronics particularly with MANPADs and night vision glasses used by terrorists and insurgents. Also noted was the notion of electronic defense which includes net centric principles that promotes threats to radar as well as laser missile threats using infer red technologies. Ever since the air war over Kosovo when air forces faced a shortfall in electronic jamming capabilities, the Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) is now critical. Deputy Commander of the UAE Air Force and Air Defense Brigadier General I brahim Naser Al Alawi examined the role of new generation training aircrafts and the proper requirements needed in a modern air force. He argued that training on the 4th generation fighter is still important for the UAE but there needs to be a 5th generation created because of the advent of 5th generation aircraft. Currently the whole system, as rather than the roots, need to be procured at a different rate. The goal now is to have in place by 2012 training for complex net-centric scenarios. There are four phases planned that will help bring the UAE air force forward leaning by shifting some training to earlier phases thereby cutting some costs and reshuffling budgets. The only caveat is what these pilots are training for if the threat environment is shifting so rapidly. Former Chief of the Air Staff of the British Royal Air Force (Ret.) Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy discussed future trends in air power support to the land component. He maintained that the region is moving into a more unstable period and that airpower, with rapid increases in technology, helps ground forces. The same is true with the inverse. Within the contemporary uses of air power there have been many lessons learned across the spectrum of activity from humanitarian mission to action combat operations in a joint environment. This will continue to be the wave of the future as air power fill become more critical with the use of precision guided weapons in support of ground operations. During the panel discussion participants brought up many excellent points regarding Army airpower versus Air Force power combined with the financial pressures regarding education and training.
Third Plenary Session:
Session Three, chaired by INEGMA CEO Mr. Riad Kahwaji, featured three speakers. Chief of the Air Staff of the British Royal Air Force Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton looked at interoperability and capitalization of air power. He asserted that the spread of instability makes the world, and the region, more dangerous. From his point of view regarding lessons learned since the War for Kuwait, the UK can ask "a bridge" with link minded states to establish airborne early warning and other interoperability stopgaps and program. Second, there needs to be a common language of air power to promote this interoperability as mistakes have been made in the past regarding language barriers. Overall the needs to be a public relations campaign to educated how the use of air power is the key to success in the land campaign even through what happens in the air is largely unseen. The Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin discussed the role of AEW&C and air defense. He maintained that one must understand the Australian strategic context regarding key capabilities and priorities in the Australian Area of Operations (AOR). The key here is that RAAF Doctrine is based on a small population base over a large territory that needs flexible balanced platforms and interoperability. Professional mastery of training is key as it relates to AEW&C roles regarding surveillance, air defense, fleet support, force coordination, and civil support. Ari Marshal Binskin made a strong case for the Wedgetail as the future of the Australian Air Force which will be integrated as rapidly as possible. Finally, Lebanese Air Chief Brig. Gen. Samir Maalouli and his assistant Col. Bassam Yassin delivered a briefing on the use of air power during the seizure of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp by the use of aerial surveillance and modified bomb manufacturing to halt the violence perpetuated by Fatah al-Islam. Medical evaluations via aircraft also played a role as well as Search and Rescue (S&R) missions. The assault to retake the area occurred in three stages where dense urban combat made the use of air power difficult but necessary. During the panel discussion a number of points arose regarding UAE air force joint operations and interoperability and how export control negotiations affect interoperability. Any air force needs the ability to purchase any system one is selling and not necessarily purchase a new system that may have limitations. Platforms need to be interoperable but not necessarily the same platform. Overall, there is a need to address the issue of trust between air forces and the defense industry that sells products to them.
The conference then came to a successful conclusion and the DIAC conference was followed by a glamorous gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt, Dubai.