Please enable javascript to access the full functionality of this site


Advanced Air Power Course

Go to Course Login >

Course structure

The Advanced Air Power Course (AAPC) is designed to give students an understanding of air power theory and doctrine that complements the training provided through the Air Force’s Professional Military Education and Training continuum. The aim of the AAPC is to enhance the professional knowledge of air power of personnel who have already developed an understanding of air power fundamentals. During the course of 13 weekly seminars, students’ existing knowledge on air power is questioned and challenged, and they are encouraged to express opinions on each of the topics. Air power topics covered range from World War I to current operations in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria  and conclude with a discussion of air power into the future. The course is particularly suitable for those members who have already spent some time in the Royal Australian Air Force (typically a minimum of five to ten years) and are seeking to supplement their understanding of air power.

The course is conducted via the internet.

The AAPC is conducted over a period of 18 weeks. The first 13 weeks consist of programmed reading and participation, via web-based forum discussions, in collective on-line analysis of the weekly topics. Students must make active, well-considered contributions to these discussions. During the final five weeks of the course, students prepare and submit a 3000 word essay on one of a range of air power topics provided during the course. Completing the essay at the end of the course allows students to apply the knowledge they gain over the preceding 13 weeks.

The essay and participation in on-line discussions are assessed and students must obtain a pass in both components to pass the course. A commitment of approximately eight hours per week is required for reading course material and participating in on-line discussions. 


The course is open to all ADF SNCO and officers up to O5, and ADO public service APS 4 up to EL1. Priority will be given to RAAF airmen up to Warrant Officer and officers up to Squadron Leader. Several positions are also allocated to foreign serving military personnel. Expressions of interest from Navy and Army personnel are welcome. The inclusion of representatives from other Services ensures that air power is discussed from a joint perspective.  
Note: Completion of the Basic and Intermediate Air Power Courses are not  pre-requisites for the Advanced Air Power Course.

Applying to do AAPC

The AAPC is generally conducted twice each year (February/March to June and July/August to November), with a call for nominations advertised at least six weeks before course start.

All applications must use the appropriate nomination form and be emailed to no later than the nomination close dates.

The course schedules for 2018 can be found here.


The topics covered in the course are:
  1. War in the Third Dimension – Kittyhawk to Libya
    Introduction to Advanced Air Power: What is Air Power?
  2. Learning while Fighting 1914 – 1918
    What might defence planners have learnt from the use of air power in the First World War?
  3. Air power theory: from Clausewitz to Warden
    Is contemporary air power doctrine still influenced by the classical air power theorists?
  4. The Battle of Britain – The defensive counter air campaign
    Why does the Battle of Britain appear to occupy such an important position in the history of air power?
  5. The strategic air offensive – strategic bombing 1939-1945
    How has the concept of precision attacks against key economic targets changed since WWII?
  6. Japanese air power 1919 – 1945
    To what extent did Japanese air power contribute to their successes?
  7. Air power, Vietnam & the art of the possible
    Did the air war over Vietnam suggest a ‘best practice’ for the employment of air power?
  8. Strategies of modern air power – the Air Campaign
    What are the elements of the modern air campaign?
  9. Air power and the Gulf War
    Warden and the self contained air campaign - is it now possible for air power alone to force a favourable conclusion to any conflict?
  10. Douhet Vindicated – Post Gulf War conflicts
    Given the introduction and continued development of innovative weapon systems, is there a place for modern air power theorists?
  11. Targeting and international law
    Does international law favour the offensive air campaign?
  12. Air Power and Irregular Warfare
    In what ways might airpower theory and practice be adapted to meet effectively the challenges of irregular warfare?
  13. The future of air power
    What is the shape of future air power in small and middle ranked states?


Additional Texts

Although selected readings are made available for the weekly seminars, the APDC has a range of relevant publications that may be of assistance to the course members. These are available for (free) download via the links below:

  • The War in the Air  edited by Dr Alan Stephens 
  • A Fresh Look at Air Power Doctrine  by Dr Sanu Kainikara 
  • Seven Perennial Challenges to Air Forces  by Dr Sanu Kainikara 
  • Friends in High Places  edited by Dr Sanu Kainikara 
  • Essays on Air Power  by Dr Sanu Kainikara.

Hard copies of the publications will be provided to course members on their graduation.

Also available for download are the APDC Pathfinders; which are short focussed readings on aviation related historical events, technical innovations, and air power doctrine.


There are two assessment areas in this course: participation in weekly online discussions which require input from each course member to the academic supervisors for the 13 weekly seminars, and one essay of 3000 words. It is compulsory to obtain passes in both assessment areas in order to achieve an overall pass in the course.

Course Schedule

One week is allocated to gathering all student details establishing communications and ensuring everyone is available. The course then runs for approximately 18 weeks. One seminar will be covered each week and there will generally be time during the following week for consolidation and group feedback of submitted assessment tasks; a total of almost 14 weeks. Weeks 15 to 18 are allocated to the essay task however, it is prudent to begin the essay no later than the week of Seminar 10. Generally, about one month is required after receipt of all essays for marking and final results to be determined. A detailed course timetable will be provided to successful applicants.

Course Completion

On successful completion of the AAPC, the marked essay, a course report, a letter stating the member’s course result and a Graduation Certificate are posted to the graduate. For ADF participants, completion of the course is recorded in PMKeys. AAPC PMKeys codes are 110020 (course) and AAPCL1 (title). A grade of Pass or Fail only is recorded on PMKeys. 

Course Credit

AAPC is not an accredited course; it has no formally recognised tertiary qualification and, therefore, it cannot be used automatically to earn credit towards any undergraduate or postgraduate studies. Apart from the AAPC Graduation Certificate, end-of-course letter and, for ADF only, the PMKeys report, no other documentation or evidence will be provided by APDC regarding course completion. Any application for credit for AAPC towards other courses being sought by an AAPC graduate must be carried out entirely by the member. No additional course documentation to what is provided at enrolment and at end-of-course can be provided by APDC. APDC is able to confirm a graduate’s participation if contacted by an external education authority.


Academic supervision is provided by Professor John McCarthy and Group Captain Phil Edwards. The course is co-ordinated by the APDC Education Staff who are the point of contact for further information.