Issue 2011-11 
5th December, 2011



The 2011 RAAF History Conference – 90 Years of the RAAF - Presentation Podcasts Available!

The 2011 RAAF History Conference was held on Friday 4 November 2011, in the Bradman Theatre of the National Convention Centre, Canberra. The theme of this year’s conference was Evolving the Air Force – 90 years of the RAAF. The RAAF Air Power Development Centre has posted podcasts of the presentations made at this conference. Click on the link below for access to these presentations.



Pathfinder 167
Facets of Air Power: A Balanced Force

Pathfinder 168
Aircraft Gifts to Regional Forces


90 Years of the RAAF

Published: November 2011

This book is an illustrated “snapshot history” of the Royal Australian Air Force that focuses, year by year, on specific chronological events from its formation in 1921 to the present day. It captures not only the highlights and achievements of the last 90 years, but also its low points. For more information on this publication and how you can obtain a copy, see the RAAF APDC website at:


Lost Without Trace

Author: Air Power Development Centre
Published: November 2011

The flying career of Squadron Leader Wilbur Wackett is highlighted in this book, including the catalogue of tragedy that subsequently unfolded after the mysterious crash of his Beaufighter in Sept 1944. For more information on this publication and how you can obtain a copy, see the RAAF APDC website at:


AAP 1001.2 - The Air Force Approach to Irregular Warfare

Published: October 2011

For more information on this publication and how you can obtain a copy, see the RAAF APDC website at:


AAP 1001.3 - The Air Force Approach to ISR

Published: October 2011

For more information on this publication and how you can obtain a copy, see the RAAF APDC website at


Access to APDC Publications through DLS Online

While most RAAF Air Power Development Centre products are available for downloading in PDF format from our website at, the Defence Library Service (DLS) Online now provides you with the capability to download many APDC and Defence products, audiobooks and eBooks, including many titles from the 2010 and 2011 CAF Reading List, to your computer, smartphone, iPod® or eBook reader. Once registered, you will be provided with access to authoritative information relevant to the work of the Australian Defence Organisation.

Through DLS Online you can:

  • tap into a wealth of information resources
  • obtain ready access to the services offered by our library staff
  • become a member of the library, which will enable you to borrow from our hardcopy collection
  • request material online and have it delivered directly to your desk, or nearest DLS library you best.

For further information please explore the DLS site at, the DLS Digital Media Library at, email or contact your nearest DLS library.

Recommended Reading

Why U.S. Needs Airpower Diplomacy
by Adam B. Lowther
The Diplomat, November 22, 2011

The November 15, 2011 announcement by U.S. President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Gillard that 2,500 U.S. Marines will be based on Australian soil is a sign that American Asia-Pacific policy is changing. The author of this article suggests that air power and air power-based diplomacy should be considered primary tools of this new policy. He provides three reasons to support his assertion: air power’s ability to rapidly overcome the vast distances in this region; the comparative cost-effectiveness of air power; and air power’s lesser permanent footprint minimises regional fears of ‘American occupation’.


Air Force Positions For Resurgence In Pacific Era
By Loren Thompson
Reference: Forbes, November 14, 2011

In the last ten years, the United States Air Force (USAF) has weathered a number of challenges and serious criticisms involving procurement, nuclear weapon security and willingness to support ground forces conducting counter-insurgency. The author of this article chronicles those events, but also indicates how the new, politically savvy USAF leadership, as well as the current, Pacific-centric geopolitical situation have set the conditions for the resurgence of the force. While much work to revitalise aging fleets of strike and airborne ISR systems must still take place, the USAF is positioning itself to be a key part of the emerging American Asian-Pacific security strategy.


Lessons From Libya
By John A. Tirpak
AIR FORCE Magazine, December 2011

While the two preceding articles espouse that air power can have a minimal forward footprint and only forward deploy when required, the key lessons from Libyan air operations highlighted in this article are that forward basing and presence are essential if quick, effective reactions to time-critical situations is required. Operations ODYSSEY DAWN [US] and UNIFIED PROTECTOR [NATO] revealed a number of significant positive and negative air power lessons. Although written from a predominantly U.S. perspective, the article contains valuable information for small and medium air forces regarding coalition air operations and the need for ready, flexible and balanced air forces.


The LHDs: turning a tool into a capability
By Gregor Ferguson
Australian Defence Magazine, vol. 19, number 11, November 2011

Through HMAS Tobruk, Kanimbla, and Manoora, Australia has had an amphibious capability for some time, but this capability will be significantly enhanced with the introduction of the new 27,000 tonne Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships. Having attended the recent Williams Foundation LHD seminar, Gregor Ferguson outlines what these vessels will mean for ADF capability, as well as the requirements and challenges faced by the individual services in order to realise that capability. The article discusses the spectrum of operations that the amphibious capability may face and questions whether or not the appropriate Command and Control construct required to integrate all elements of amphibious operations exists in the ADF. Among the many challenges Defence will face in introducing this power-projection capability into service, C2 may be the most important.


Flight of the drones - Why the future of air power belongs to unmanned systems
Author unknown
The Economist, October 8, 2011

Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) have become an important weapon system in recent years.  This article provides an informed and impartial review of the advantages, disadvantages and potential of RPA. It notes that there has been a 1,200% increase in RPA combat air patrols since 2005 and an RPA such as the Reaper requires more than 180 people to keep it flying. Likewise, while it stresses the advantages of being able to accomplish “dull, dirty, dangerous, difficult or different” air missions, it flags ongoing issues such as remote control latency and the inability to operate in civil airspace. The article also identifies some emerging ethical questions related to current and future use of RPA. They include how much human-in-the-loop overwatch of RPA will be required as advancements in technology permit increasingly autonomous RPA operations, and whether or not the use of lethal unmanned systems is making warfare more politically acceptable and thus more likely to occur. While one could perceive the use of RPAs as dehumanising warfare, war is fundamentally a human activity and the use of RPA is a human intensive activity that uses technology to apply precise and proportional force while minimising unintentional casualties.


Shore Up America's Air Superiority
By Thomas Donnelly and Gary J. Schmitt
American Enterprise Institute - Foreign and Defense Policy

Over the past decade, China has accelerated the build up of its military, including introducing many new capabilities. Its ability to project power in East Asia and throughout the South China Sea has grown in line with this increased military capability, but what does this mean for other Asian and Pacific-rim nations, particularly the United States? As the only global superpower, the United States finds itself in uncharted territory as the balance of power in East Asia seems to shift. The authors question if the U.S. and its allies have the ability to gain air supremacy, project force and maintain/gain access to areas that are potentially contested in this region. The article highlights that although recently always assumed, freedom of manoeuvre is no longer guaranteed and outlines the need for the U.S. and its allies to have leading edge air power capabilities to rebalance the military equation.


Leadership Address to the U.S. Air Force Academy, November 1, 2011
by GEN Mark A. Welsh III, Commander US Air Forces in Europe 
Source: Youtube video

NOTE: DRN users will not be able to access this video from Defence computers, but the link can be emailed to and accessed from non-Defence IT systems.

On 1 November 2011 Gen Mark Welsh, Commander US Air Forces in Europe, gave a very personal and inspiring address to the US Air Force Academy which provided a unique perspective of leadership in air forces. He stressed the importance of knowing one's heritage, and identified various 'normal' people in his command who are, in effect, heroes by virtue of the impact that they have had made. In this respect, he reinforced the human side of war - the profession of arms - and noted that it can be ugly. He also challenged the cadets by asking "Why are you here? ", "Why do you wear the uniform?", and "Are you ready for leadership?", before closing by suggesting that "Leadership is a gift - it is given by those who follow." A long presentation (50 minutes) but a powerful one, with a message worth listening to.


Did You Know?

On 23 October 1911 an Italian pilot, Captain Carlos Piazza, flew the first military reconnaissance mission in wartime over Ottoman Turkish lines in Libya. The flight from Tripoli to El Azizia in a Blériot XI monoplane, lasted just one hour. One hundred years later the Italian Air Force was flying Predator missions over Libya as part of the NATO-led Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR. These Predators, remotely piloted from Amendola Air Base in central Italy, conducted approximately 360 hours of critical ISR missions to help protect the Libyan civilian population. Although technology has advanced in unimaginable ways, ISR remains an enduring air power role.


The views expressed in this newsletter and the linked articles are entirely those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Royal Australian Air Force.

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