The US Air Force (USAF) has released a 30-year strategy document that emphasises agility in the pursuit of advanced technologies, weapons development and human resources management.

Unveiled by Secretary of Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III on Wednesday, the strategy report also calls for better relations with industry, government and international air forces.

The air force plans to accelerate the development of artificial intelligence so future systems can react more accurately to a given situation and coordinate independently with other systems.

The report envisions practical application of hypersonic speed, and the use of nanotechnology to develop stronger but lighter structures that enable cost reduction and lower detectability.

The strategy report also warned against technology outpacing moral and legal boundaries: "We must not allow technology to outpace legal, moral and doctrinal considerations – these must all be pursued in parallel to maintain tempo and sustain the advantage."

The air force expects agility in modifying or abandoning a development programme during its life cycle and speeding-up prototyping.

"The strategy report calls for better equations with industry, government and international air forces."

"Large, complex programmes with industrial-era development cycles measured in decades may become obsolete before they reach full-rate production.

The report added, "The ability to integrate the best technological advances in stride, and abandon underperforming elements of a system will accelerate development of the capabilities we need to maintain our edge into the future."

The USAF envisages better career-paths to airmen by providing them an opportunity to take a break from service and join back later. It also plans to give them advanced simulation and visual display-based training.

Citing a change in career development, the report added: "Our model of 20 years of continual service in the same "company" is a 20th-century construct that is not widely replicated in the private sector.

"For example, breaks in service – or transitions between full-time and part-time – need not be punitive in the advancement of our future Airmen. Rather, the experience they gain during their time out of uniform should be recognised for the broader perspective it delivers.

"Similarly, we must commit to a career development model that provides those in specialised career fields with incentives and promotion opportunities on par with those in more mainstream disciplines," the strategy report says.

Image: The USAF plans to provide better career-paths to airmen. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay.

Defence Technology