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The Art of Air Power: The Age of Air Power Course

Course convenor

GPCAPT Phil Edwards convenes the course.

Course structure

The aim of the Age of Air Power Course (AAPC) is to enhance the professional knowledge of Air Force members who have already developed an understanding of the fundamentals of air power. During the course of 13 weekly seminars, a student’s existing knowledge of air power is questioned and challenged, and they are encouraged to express opinions on each of the topics. The air power topics covered range from World War I to current operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq 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.
Access to the online course can be gained through any device that has connection to 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 the online 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 the course material and participating in online discussions. 


The AAPC is open to all ADF officers, warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers, and Defence Public Servants from APS5 to EL1,  Note that placement on the course is competitive.

For the second course of the year, priority placement will be given to squadron leaders, warrant officers and APS members who have been identified to attend the Australian Command and Staff Course (ACSC), as the AAPC has proven to be an excellent primer for members attending ACSC. The AAPC explores the history of the application of air power and the geo-politics which underpins its application.

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 Fundamentals and Strategies of Air Power Courses are not pre-requisites for the AAPC but would be an advantage.

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.


The topics covered in the course are:

  1. War in the Third Dimension – Kittyhawk to Aleppo
    Introduction to the Age of 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 and the Strategic Bombing of Germany 
    Why does the Battle of Britain appear to occupy such an important position in the history of air power and to what extent has the concept of precision attacks against key economic targets changed since WWII?

  5. Japanese Air Power 1919 - 1945
    To what extent did Japanese air power contribute to their successes?

  6. Air power, Vietnam & the Art of the Possible
    Did the air war over Vietnam suggest a ‘best practice’ for the employment of air power?

  7. Strategies of Modern Air Power – the Air Campaign
    What are the elements of the modern air campaign?

  8. 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?

  9. 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?

  10. Targeting and International Law
    Does international law favour the offensive air campaign?

  11. Air Power and Irregular Warfare
    In what ways might air power theory and practice be adapted to meet effectively the challenges of irregular warfare?

  12. National Air Power
    How does national air power work towards preserving the security and strategic interests of a nation?

  13. The Future of Air Power
    What is the future shape of 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:

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 on-line 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
The course then runs for approximately 18 weeks.
Week 1 is allocated to course admin to gather students details and establish communications.
Weeks 2-14 will have one seminar topic covered each week that will be open from 0001 on the Friday and closes 2330 the following Sunday (10 Days).
Weeks 15-18 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.
Your participation in the weekly seminars can be added at any stage during that lesson's active week. You can access the online course through any device that has internet connection.

Course completion

On successful completion of the AAPC, a graduation certificate will be issued and for ADF members PMKeyS reporting will follow.  

Course credit

The 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. Any application for credit for AAPC towards other courses must be carried out entirely by the graduate, and no additional course documentation other than that provided at enrolment and at the completion of the course can be provided by APDC. However, the APDC is able to confirm a graduate’s participation on the course if contacted by an external education authority.


The Age of Air Power Course is recognised as RPL for the air power component for all PMET-09 distance courses (CPL-SQNLDR).  http://drnet/raaf/PMET/Pages/RPL-WAIVER-GUIDE-LINES-PMET-09-COURSES.aspx


Academic supervision is provided by Group Captain Phil Edwards and Professor Sanu Kainikara.  The course is coordinated by the APDC Education staff, who are the point of contact for further information.


Individuals can nominate for the AAPC through their Unit Training Co-ordinator or Orderly Room. The AAPC PMKeyS course code 110020.