Diversifying Air Power: Broadening Air Force’s value proposition in an age of high contest

Author name: 
Peter Hunter
The National Security College and the Air Power Development Centre

How should Air Force contribute to Australian Defence Force (ADF) strategy?

In answering this question, it is important to start from first principles. By definition, Air Force remains responsible for the provision of air power capabilities to meet national defence requirements. Combat excellence is its bedrock requirement and Air Force will continue to focus on building joint, integrated missions to generate combat superiority.

But in the emerging Indo-Pacific security environment, where contest and competition are defining features, there are challenges that won’t always suit the application of force. The provision of air combat power is a necessary but not sufficient response to these changed geostrategic circumstances, and Air Force will require an improved value proposition for government.

Key points:

  • For Air Force to meet the challenges of Australia’s current geostrategic environment, and remain relevant, it must broaden the options it provides to the Australian Government.
  • In addition to its traditional combat roles, Air Force must maximise its contribution to national-level influence and deterrence.
  • Australia faces constant contestation in the grey zone, and powers in the Indo-Pacific have adopted political warfare methods which deliberately blur the distinction between war and peace. To meet this reality, Air Force should move to a mode where it is ‘competing constantly’.
  • By capitalising on its advanced capabilities and its culture of innovation, Air Force can substantially contribute to Australia’s ability to project national influence in the Indo-Pacific.
Publication file: 
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Updated:  20 May 2024/Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/Page Contact:  Web administrator