The leading edge: air power in Australia's unique environment

Author/s (editor/s):

P.J. Criss, D.J. Schubert

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 62

Air power in Australia's unique environment is now well understood. Traditional dependence on alliance strategies, perspectives and support has shaped notions of air power and its future that are not in Australia's best interests. The real function and disposition of a small, non-nuclear air power capability in the Australian Defence Force is constrained by entrenched bureaucratic attitudes and practices. 

This monograph - an award-winning research paper - describes the causes and the effects of the current air power malaise in Australia. Descriptions of the development of air power and Australia's unique environment form the background to a wide ranging analysis of the state of air power in Australia. The differences between current capability and future needs forms part of the assessment of future directions for Australia. The conclusions drawn and the recommendations for the way ahead are both challenging and innovative. The traditional emphasis on a manpower-intensive standing army is challenged. Perhaps the right balance for Australia should favour the high-technology leading edge of Australia's defence - air power. One radical innovation proposed by the monograph as a solution to Australia's unique circumstances is the use of full-time Reserve units.

The monograph concludes that air power is the key to Australia's defence. Understanding its importance and proper application is vital. If the leading edge of defence is not honed for the future, Australia will be left holding a blunt defence policy.

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