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Development - Research Projects

Development Section is continually engaged in a number of research projects, principally in partnership with DSTO.  These projects, outlined here in reverse chronological order, are designed to provide significant utility to Air Force in the development of strategic guidance and future air power analysis.  These tasks include:

2009: Irregular warfare and air power: getting in front of the technology (in progress)

Sponsored by APDC, DSTO’s Air Operations Division is conducting a study to assess technology developments to approximately 2025 and how they may impact on future air capabilities in order to better inform RAAF long range planning activities.  The generic war fighting functions of command and control, information superiority and support, force deployment, force protection, force application, and force generation and sustainment will be used in this study to assess potential impacts of technological developments.

2009: Irregular warfare, air power and the RAAF (nearing completion)

Irregular warfare has been the dominate form of human conflict since the late 19th century, and that is despite the two world wars.  The prominence of irregular warfare since 1945 has largely been due to a combination of the demise of European colonialism, and the breakup of the Soviet Union.  These strategic shifts released an upwelling of nationalistic, ideological, ethic and religious tensions, which has lead to a proliferation of localised violent conflicts.  Commensurate with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1990 was the disintegration of the previous 45-year bi-polar security environment, leaving the United States as the sole superpower. 

Since the 1900s, western militaries have had mixed success in conducting irregular campaigns and as such it is important to learn the lessons of the past.  This is particularly so for the RAAF with its current commitment to fighting an irregular conflict in Afghanistan.  This working paper discusses the role of air power in irregular warfare, and seeks to draw out salient lessons for future application.  The full range of irregular conflict from intense high-end warfighting through to civilian constabulary operations is considered.

2008: Decision Superiority

Copy available from: Working Paper 28

Decision superiority is a nuanced and subtle concept that can be applied or interpreted at various levels. Development Section intends to explore the concept of Decision Superiority from a strategic vantage point and develop concrete actions and initiatives that the RAAF must pursue to achieve a degree of decision superiority.  Some of the key ideas to what decision superiority entails include:

  • Historically we have been a very good tactical air force and this entails a degree of tactical level decision superiority, however, organisational decision superiority will enable us to become a strategic air force
  • Decision makers must have the authority, responsibility and resources to make decisions
  • Decision makers should know when they are required to make decisions (decide about deciding)
  • How do we become a ‘decision making’ organisation?
  • Decision superiority is a foundational dimension of our culture
  • The current system is not necessarily broken but it does not display the quality of decision superiority we want or need

The intent of the research projects is to begin the conditioning of the strategic thought space to the concept of decision superiority.

2008: Strategic Air Forces: Choosing a framework for the future Air Force

Copy available from: Working Paper 24

The general and well-found perception of the RAAF is that it is a modern, capable, professional and well-respected smaller tactical force that provides first class air power to the government of Australia. This perception is bolstered by the fact that since inception the Air Force has displayed, within the limits imposed by its small size, tactical flexibility, operational excellence and the willingness to embrace innovative and leading edge technology and thinking to achieve its ends. As Australia’s security circumstances have evolved in the past century so too has the RAAF’s need to adapt in order to remain relevant and capable of satisfying governments’ security demands. 

The choices that confronts Air Force at this juncture concern how it will position and organise itself to meet the challenges of future years – whether it will remain largely as it is, an excellent tactical air force, or if it will choose to transform itself into a strategic force capable not only of tactical effect but of shaping its environment and setting its future course in a positive and self determined fashion. Both choices are valid for a range of reasons, both have associated risks and costs, and both will broadly achieve and satisfy government policy. 

This research project will assess consequences of choosing either approach.

2007: A DSTO led study into ‘Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Systems – A Decision Matrix’

The possible inclusion of UAVS in to the Air Force fleet represents a major capability watershed. The long-term force structure implications and capability consequences of a transition to UAVS, as well as the considerable cost of doing so, means that any decision in this regard must be comprehensively justifiable and rigorously determined. The decision to acquire UAVS is contingent on a number of complex capability, political and force structure considerations and is one that requires senior RAAF decision-makers to be equipped with the best possible information and decision aiding tools available. This study aims to develop a decision making matrix that will do just that – contribute to the range of decision aids available to senior RAAF decision-makers. The matrix provides useful and dynamic information on a range of criteria considered fundamental in determining possible trigger points for the introduction of an uninhabited aerial capability.

The decision matrix is a classified document and will not be publicly distributed.

2007: A KOKODA FOUNDATION study into ‘Air-Land Integration: A Model for Operations in the Australian Context 2010 – 2030’

The objective of this task was to have the Kokoda Foundation complete a study to investigate the integration of air and land forces for the Australian Defence Force, either acting alone or in coalition with allies, to provide effective operational level joint fires and to propose broad recommendations designed to deliver maximum combat effectiveness. 

Kokoda report available from the Kokoda Foundation web site

2007: RAAF Museum Futures Module

Helping the National Air Force Museum develop their futures module.

RAAF Museum web site

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