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full suite of air-to-ground weapons integrated, as well as the new Meteor Beyond Visual Range Airto-Air Missile. The F-35B Lightning II – the RAF’s first ‘stealth’ platform – will also have declared its land-based operating capability in 2018. In modern warfare, intelligence and understanding have become increasingly vital. Able to cover large distances, the RAF’s ISR aircraft are providing critical intelligence in the fight against Daesh, but they will also be vital to the full range of Joint operations in the future. The introduction to service of the P-8A Poseidon before the end of the decade sits alongside major investment in remotely piloted air systems (a much enhanced Protector force will succeed Reaper) – the E-3D Sentry will be upgraded, Sentinel will serve longer into the future and we will grow our Shadow fleet. The RAF also now has one of the most modern air mobility forces in the world. The introduction into service of the Voyager tanker-transport aircraft and A400M Atlas will also be complete before the end of the decade. Alongside the retention of a number of our C-130J Hercules in the special

An RAF Voyager aircraft practises refuelling a French Rafale (rear) and a British Typhoon (front). Exercises such as Griffin Strike 2016 are helping the Royal Air Force to become ‘international by design’


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forces role, the RAF’s air mobility fleet will be able to support the full range of tasks – from warfighting to humanitarian aid and disaster relief – that the Government will want to call upon.

PEOPLE But all of this equipment will be of little value if we do not have the right people to exploit and support it. The RAF is rightly viewed as having some of the best trained and most professional airmen and women in the world; they underpin the Royal Air Force’s capability. But society continues to change, and we will need to change if we are to remain successful. In particular, we must get better at recruiting from a more diverse background. The RAF may be leading the way across Defence in recruiting women, but there is much more to do. Similarly, we must also become more successful at attracting men and women from areas of society that we have not traditionally reached. This diversity will be essential to future operational success and is likely to play an important role in

generating the innovative culture that we will need to overcome future threats and challenges. To support these objectives, we will strive for much greater flexibility in our employment model and also in the mix of regulars, reserves, civilians and contractors in our workforce. We will also transform our training systems (particularly our technical training) to make them more modern, effective and efficient. Most importantly, however, we have to retain the skills of those already in the Service. As the economy improves, the ‘pull factors’ become stronger. In most instances, Defence will not be able to compete against private-sector salaries, so our focus must be on making people feel valued, engaged and ensuring that they feel that they are making a vital contribution to the Service and country. Air Vice-Marshal David Stubbs expands on the people challenge and how we will address it in the Training in Progress article.

THE CONCEPTUAL COMPONENT AND THINKING TO WIN In British Defence Doctrine, the equipment and the people are only two of the three components of fighting power. The third component – the ‘conceptual component’ – is just as vital and has, arguably, been neglected by the RAF to some extent over a decade in which the focus has been on the tactical fight in land-focused counter-insurgency operations. Without a renewed focus on the conceptual component, particularly at the operational level, we risk not making the most of the equipment we are bringing into service and not adjusting to the changing threats we face. ‘Thinking to Win’ is the programme that the RAF has put in place to reinvigorate the conceptual component. The programme aims to clarify our focus, inspire innovation and build advocates for air power. As societal and technological change accelerates, the effectiveness of air power will depend on our ability to think differently. This requires diversity of thought, a willingness to challenge received wisdom and leadership that values ideas on their merit – not on the status of the individual who dreamt them up.

CONCLUSION There is an exciting time ahead for the RAF. The challenges are significant, but so are the opportunities. The transformation of capability over the next 10 years will leave us with a highly capable modern air force. We expect to be at the forefront of operations across the globe for the foreseeable future. We intend to make the most of the investment the Government will make in air power and reward the faith that the public puts in us. This will require us to think differently, exploit the new capability, work with our friends and allies across the world, improve productivity and make the most of our talented airmen and women.


23/06/2016 14:12

RAF Air Power 2016 – Inspiration and Innovation  

An official publication of the Royal Air Force

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