Issue 2011-5
6th June, 2011




Pathfinder 155
Asymmetry in Warfare

Pathfinder 156
Double Sunrise Flights


Recommended Reading

The Psychological Use of Air Power: A Growth Area for The Future
By WGCDR Kevin Marsh
RAF Air Power Review, Vol 13 No. 1, Spring 2010

In this article, WGCDR Kevin Marsh (RAF) suggests the psychological effect of air power should have greater prominence in air power doctrine particularly in light of the prevailing strategic environment where kinetic air operations are increasingly under scrutiny. The author rightly highlights that the psychological impact of air operations has been an enduring aspect of air power since military aviation began with examples throughout the last 100 years. In particular, he provides the interesting example of German forces on Rhodes in 1944 surrendering following an RAF squadron flying in formation low over German positions in an aggressive demonstration of air presence. While his argument is solid, it would have been further enhanced by a discussion on the difficulties involved in attempting to plan, predict and measure psychological effects from air operations.


The Mutable Nature of War
by COL Phillip S. Meilinger, USAF, Retired
Air and Space Power Journal, Winter 2010, Vol XXIV, No.4

The Clausewitzian notion of the unchanging nature of war is challenged by Meilinger in this article. Clausewitz's idea, spawned in relatively technologically stagnant Napoleonic times although admittedly supported by many military theorists, soldiers and marines today, purports war to be a fundamentally bloody and violent conflict between armies. This concept also denigrates other forms of warfare that do not involve the necessary string of dangerous and costly battles that lead to victory. Using the examples of naval blockades, manned and unmanned air warfare, and cyber warfare, the author shows that the manner in which modern war is fought and the association of war with the sacrifice of large numbers of one's military servicemen and women have indeed both changed. Meilinger concludes that technology, and in particular that which is exemplified in modern air warfare, offers war waging methods that limit physical destruction and do not condemn the combatant to suffer horrendous casualties in pursuit of national strategic and military objectives. The mutable and less bloody nature of contemporary war is good food for thought for armed forces like the ADF that have sufficient breadth of capability to consider different ways and means to achieve their strategic ends.


Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth - Chinese Air Force Employment Concepts in the 21st Century
By Roger Cliff, John Fei, Jeff Hagen, Elizabeth Hague, Eric Heginbotham, John Stillion
RAND Project Air Force

The RAND Project Air Force Office recently released a comprehensive report on the Chinese Air Force in the 21st Century. This 16 page summary provides an excellent overview of the current transformation of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) from an antiquated 1950s era Soviet based force to a highly capable 21st Century force. The authors state that original Chinese sources have been used in the development of this publication which focuses on how the PLAAF plans to operate in the future rather than how it operates today. As such, this document provides an authoritative examination of the rapidly developing PLAAF capabilities and intentions. While the force should provide particularly strong air defence capabilities combined with the ability to conduct offensive operations far into the western Pacific, the authors question whether the quality of PLAAF training and leadership will be able to realise the full potential offered by their expanding doctrine and capabilities.

The complete document is avaliable at:


Unmanned aerial vehicles: emerging lessons and technologies
By International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)
The Military Balance 2011, Chapter 1, p 20-26.

The rapid introduction and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (remotely piloted aircraft or RPA) in recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has revealed a potent yet relatively immature ISR and weapons delivery capability. This article describes lessons learned and challenges exposed by the proliferation and use of RPA among the major countries that now operate them and provides an interesting comparison of the degree to which countries and military services are investing in this capability. As the ADF continues to employ RPA in Afghanistan and seeks to procure more advanced capability, it faces many of the employment and developmental challenges discussed in this article, including technological design, airspace access and the ethical/legal implications of the use of remotely operated systems in war.


U-turn – Unmanned systems could be casualties of budget pressures
By P.W. Singer
Armed Forces Journal, April 11, April 11

This article, which is focussed on challenges to institutionalising new technologies after initial introduction, was inspired by the conspicuous absence of U – systems (unmanned) on the current US Defense Department list of their top 25 acquisition programs (ranked by program cost). The author cites shrinking defence budgets, the inability of military thinkers to conceptualise the application of new technologies beyond the context of their first use, and the propensity of militaries to put inordinate faith in older systems that worked in previous conflicts as the predominant challenges to the next generation of unmanned systems. Singer's recommendations regarding the ways militaries can find the middle position between full-scale resistance and full-scale change, and successfully institutionalise new technologies are noteworthy.


Did you know ... ?

In the lead-up to the First Gulf War of 1991, the RAAF was asked by the United States to provide RF-111s to help bolster the ISR capacity of the multinational forces assembling for Operation Desert Shield—the operation to defend Saudi Arabia from Iraqi forces that had invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Although the F-111 had then been in service with the RAAF for almost 18 years, the capability fielded in the weapons bay equipment pallet of the four aircraft converted to the reconnaissance role in 1979-80 was still world class, and highly desirable for the intense air campaign that was envisioned and about to be mounted in the Gulf. However, the Australian Government chose to limit its commitment in the looming conflict to ships, a medical team and mine clearance divers and a small number of specialist personnel.


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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