INSPIRATION PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
he Royal Air Force (RAF) remains at the forefront of the Government’s approach to conflict and crisis management around the world: every one of the RAF’s frontline aircraft types will be involved in operations in the coming year. The RAF’s responsiveness, light footprint and ability to plug quickly into coalition formations as a partner of choice will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. By any measure, the outcome of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) was good news for the RAF and represented a vote of confidence in the value the Government sees in air power. For the first time in a generation, the RAF is set to grow.
NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY Right now, the RAF is playing a leading role in the United Kingdom’s fight against Daesh and violent extremism. But the National Security Strategy (NSS) makes it clear that Defence and the RAF must also remain focused on deterring more potent state-based threats. The intent of the NSS to address the twin challenges of countering violent extremism and deterring the threat from Russia has shaped the decisions that were taken as part of the SDSR. Investment in combat aircraft, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and mobility support to special forces has sought to create a balanced force structure able to ‘warfight at scale’ with our allies against peer enemies, as well as win the fight against terrorism and violent extremism wherever it is found around the world. Delivering this growth in capability and size brings challenges. The Government’s commitment to spend 2% of GDP on Defence brings stability and certainty to the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD’s) finances, but affordability remains a concern in the near term. In the longer term, Defence must deliver a wide range of efficiencies to create the necessary headroom to invest in new capability. By being able to retain any savings that Defence can make, we are incentivised to deliver efficiencies and plough them back into new capability. The RAF has a strong track record of driving innovation in support and generating more efficient ways of delivering military output, but more will be required if we are to deliver the capability improvement promised.
large-scale expeditionary force of up to 50,000 people. This represents a significant and potent capability, but it also represents a big step up in ambition. The UK’s armed forces will need to scale up the excellent joint warfighting skills that we have developed over the past 20 years. Air power will be vital to any operational design of a future Joint campaign. Joint commanders will need to be educated, trained and exercised in bringing the Joint Force’s capabilities together to deliver success. If we are to fight together successfully, we need to train and exercise together in the most demanding settings, in both the real and virtual worlds. This applies as much to working with our allies as it does to working with the British Army and Royal Navy. We need to be ‘international by design’ in our training because we will have to be international in practice. We must, therefore, refocus our energies on major Joint and combined exercises, and we must also embrace new technology. The RAF is leading the way across Defence in the thinking about, and
WE MUST REFOCUS OUR ENERGIES ON MAJOR JOINT AND COMBINED EXERCISES AND EMBRACE NEW TECHNOLOGY
JOINT FORCE 25 Joint Force 25 (JF25) is at the heart of Defence’s contribution to the NSS, which signalled clearly the intent to reshape the UK’s armed forces to meet its most demanding task. Rather than the ‘best effort’ outlined in the 2010 SDSR, JF25 will be able to deploy a
application of, synthetic training. We are out in front of our sister Services in this regard, and we will need to create Joint synthetic training opportunities at both the tactical and operational levels if we are to deliver the necessary training that will prepare us for operational success in an affordable way. These challenges are not unique to the RAF, or even to the United Kingdom. As the Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, remarks in his article, we should all aspire to “a future force that is agile and adaptive, fully immersed in the information age, and truly joint”. For the RAF, most of the building blocks for JF25 will be in place before the end of the decade. The recapitalisation of most of the RAF’s fighting equipment, that will have been concluded in little more than a decade, is remarkable and has left the RAF with a potent and world-class capability that we must exploit in the coming years. By the end of the decade, we will see Typhoon as the mainstay of our combat air capability. Before Tornado retires in 2019, Typhoon will have the INSPIRATION AND INNOVATION AIR POWER 2016
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