System Characteristics and Contextual Constraints for Future Fighter Decision Support

System Characteristics and Contextual Constraints for Future Fighter Decision Support

Jens Alfredson (Saab Aeronautics, Linköping, Sweden) and Ulrika Ohlander (Saab Aeronautics, Linköping, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJISMD.2016010101
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Research on decision support systems for fighter aircraft has to regard future manned and unmanned cooperating aircraft. This paper highlights system characteristics and contextual constraints to guide research as well as system development. Long term trends have been identified for the domain that has to be coped with, including the transformation of the fighter pilot from pilot to tactical decision maker. Automation strategies have to be developed to support manned and unmanned aircraft in a joint cognitive system. For instance, for intelligent fighter pilot support, for distributed unmanned and manned decision making, function allocation has to be concerned. For function allocation it is important not only to regard which agent is best at performing a task but also to regard the risk/cost of performing a task in this kind of potentially hazardous context.
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Back in the days of early aviation keeping the aircraft in the air was hard in itself. The aviators were often fully occupied by piloting. After years of progress within the domain, the aircraft could be better controlled and there were also time and mental resources to attend to other activities. The pilots found time not only to aviate but also to navigate, and later also to communicate. For instance, military pilots could communicate what they had observed on the ground when landed, providing valuable reconnaissance information. Even later, the history of military aviation is full of different types of aircraft carrying out very different missions in a variety of scenarios. Today´s fighter pilots make use of an “autopilot” or other functions to aid the piloting of the aircraft. Moreover, modern fighters are equipped with high tech sensors, advanced weapon systems, electronic warfare systems, and many other subsystems for a modern fighter pilot to handle. If you were ever given the opportunity to look at the instrumentation of a modern fighter aircraft performing a tactical mission, you would probably see that instrumentation and displays to a great deal is used for tactical considerations and not only for flight instrumentation. The role of a fighter pilot has been transformed over time; from pilot to tactical decision maker.

This long term trend has led to current situations where a fighter pilot has to manage several tactical subsystems simultaneously. At the same time, he has to assess ongoing parallel tactical situations on the ground and in the air, and make fast and important decisions to provide influence on the situations. Naturalistic decision making, as it were characterised by Klein, Orasanu, Calderwood, and Zsambok (1993), is applicable to many of these situations, since they are often complex, uncertain and dynamic, characterised by high stakes, potentially risking both own and others life under extreme time pressure. Moreover, demanding situations may appear suddenly, when performing almost any military mission, either it is an air-to-air mission, an air-to-surface mission or a reconnaissance mission.

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