The Air Force Technology Horizons effort resulted in a four-volume document focused on future Air Force science and technology efforts. in the coming decade and beyond. Volume one of the series is public (pdf) and Dr. Werner Dahm, chief scientist, U.S. Air Force, spoke on the findings.
One big one is finding solutions to location needs when GPS is denied, because of enemies “breaking” the system. Small jam-resistant receivers are one solution, but another is a wholly new technology:
The real breakthrough, reveals Dahm, will come from the quantum interferometry approaches, often referred to as cold-atom approaches, where scientists trap a collection of atoms or molecules in a very narrow range of quantum states. “We use the fact that at the quantum level matter—in other words, atoms and molecules—are waves,” explains Dahm. The wavelength of these waves is many orders of magnitude smaller than optical wavelengths, which allows for incredibly high precision and low drift in position and navigation systems.
That technology is now in the lab but may be fielded within the decade.