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ince the last edition of Air Power, the RAF has continued to deliver remarkable results across the full spectrum of air power roles. Operationally, we have expanded our span of operations in Syria, where Daesh’s foundations are being rocked by our precision strike, enabled by our world-class intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance force. We have continued to play a vital role in policing our own airspace against Russian sabre-rattling and potential terrorist threats, while simultaneously helping guard our Baltic allies against menacing Russian activity on NATO’s eastern flank. These have been the highest-profile activities in which the RAF has been engaged, and they reflect the remarkable speed of change in the global strategic environment. As others state elsewhere in this journal, the future is notoriously difficult to predict; indeed, few would have predicted a year ago that Russia would deploy a large air wing to mainland Syria or mount bombing raids on the same country from strategic distances. But perhaps a forecast of unpredictability is the most salient prediction of all. Each air force in every democratic state faces the prospect of having to deal with challenges that will emerge unexpectedly in the future, and it is therefore incumbent on the Royal Air Force (RAF), as the custodians of UK air power, to do all it can to hedge against the most likely and dangerous possibilities, with sufficient adaptability to meet wholly unexpected challenges. Much of what we need to do will reside in the conceptual as well as in the moral and physical domains. In short, we need to think more deeply, broadly and

innovatively if we are to succeed in our future endeavours: that is the basis of our Thinking to Win programme, of which you can read more elsewhere in this journal. One certainty that has emerged in the past 12 months is the commitment pledged through the Strategic Defence and Security Review to increase our overall force size and operational effectiveness through the commitment, among other programmes, to the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft programme and the F-35B Lightning. I am delighted that the capabilities that will fulfil the UK’s Joint Force 2025 structure have been given a solid financial basis, but much more importantly, that our capabilities and structures will be based on a firm strategic foundation. This is very encouraging indeed for the RAF and for our country. I am delighted, too, that so many of our international partners have agreed to contribute to this journal – we are routinely privileged to hear our partners speak at the Air Power Conference, but their contribution here properly reflects the fact that the global challenges we jointly face require international solutions. Air power will remain a vital instrument in dealing with the uncertain future, and the debate we have in this journal – as well as at the Air Power Conference – will inform and equip us better to deal with it. For us to continue our tradition of success as an air force, the RAF will need to inspire our young airmen and women to exploit their human potential to the full, while relentlessly innovating to address the threats and grasp the opportunities that the unpredictable future will reveal. This is the core theme of this publication, and I would encourage all air power professionals to contribute to the discussion.


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RAF Air Power 2016 – Inspiration and Innovation  

An official publication of the Royal Air Force

RAF Air Power 2016 – Inspiration and Innovation  

An official publication of the Royal Air Force