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NDS, IIP and the future of Aussie airpower in focus for Air and Space Power Conference

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Robert Chipman, AO, CSC presents a speech during the Clear to Launch Symposium as part of the Air and Space Power Conference 2024, Canberra. (Source: Defence)

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman, AO, CSC and Chief of Joint Capabilities Lieutenant General John Frewen AO, DSC have used the Air and Space Power Conference 2024 to highlight the future of Australian air and space power.

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman, AO, CSC and Chief of Joint Capabilities Lieutenant General John Frewen AO, DSC have used the Air and Space Power Conference 2024 to highlight the future of Australian air and space power.

​The two-day conference will examine emerging issues in air and space domains set against the background context of the National Defence Strategy (NDS) and the 2024 Integrated Investment Program (IIP), emphasising the critical need for collaborative efforts across the Australian Defence Force’s warfighting domains amid a contested global environment.

Air Marshal Robert Chipman, AO, CSC, speaking on the importance of the Air and Space Power Conference 2024 (ASPCon24) said, “The Air and Space Power Conference will delve into the complexities of today’s dynamic operational landscape, anticipating an even more complex and contested future.”


Lieutenant General John Frewen, AO, DSC, echoed these sentiments, saying, “The Air and Space Power Conference theme of ‘Building readiness and resilience in national air and space power across the spectrum of competition’ encapsulates the progress of the Australian Defence Force to address the challenges of our rapidly evolving strategic environment.”

For AIRMSHL Chipman, the emphasis for the Royal Australian Air Force is on responding to the era of great power competition, leveraging the priority pillars of the National Defence Strategy to deliver decisive Australian air power in the event of conflict.

“Australia’s Strategy of Denial is to deter conflict before it begins. Focusing our force generation effort on the capabilities we need for conflict in the Indo-Pacific region will establish the best prospects for deterring it. When I talk of force generating air power, it’s for this purpose. It is in this context that we consider how we might build ready and resilient air power," AIRMSHL Chipman said.

Going further, the Chief of Air Force added, “By projecting strength, the ability to impose cost; readiness, the ability to respond quickly and deny strategic opportunism; and resilience, the ability to absorb punishment and outlast our potential adversaries; they might pause to consider the wisdom of pursuing their interests through war.”

However for all of this, AIRMSHL Chipman was clear in recognising the limitations of Australia’s capacity to influence and deter the outbreak of conflict, saying, “As a middle power, Australia recognises that our efforts alone will not be sufficient to deter conflict. We recognise our prospects for preserving peace and security – a stable balance of power – are optimised by working with our allies and partners. Demonstrating our collective commitment and resolve. This is why the National Defence Strategy directs Defence to strengthen our alliances and partnerships across the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.”

In order to deliver its part in the integrated, focused force, Air Force needs to become resilient and resourceful, in the words of AIRMSHL Chipman, to overcome the challenges the nation faces.

AIRMSHL Chipman stated, “Our first challenge is to strengthen our workforce. More specifically, to address shortfalls in those specific musterings and experience levels that constrain our capacity to grow. We are finding inefficiency and obstruction throughout our people pipeline – in recruiting and retention, training and professional development.

“Our experience has been that interventions to improve workforce health operate over a very long life cycle, demanding far-sighted workforce intelligence and long-term strategies. But we will also need to consider what measures we might take to shorten period of workforce interventions. Our efforts to build readiness have focused on maximising the productivity of our assets. Lifting our force utilisation rate. Strengthening our stockholdings and inventory of spares and weapons.”

Going further, AIRMSHL Chipman said, “Our capability investments strive to balance the modernisation of current capabilities with the development of future technologies that might render our current capabilities obsolete. We are also considering investments in complementary capabilities, such as the MQ-28 Ghost Bat, which next year will demonstrate the potential of crewed and uncrewed teaming to improve the survivability and lethality of our air combat system in an operationally representative scenario.”

LTGEN John Frewen, AO, DSC, added, “The National Defence Strategy acknowledges that protecting Australia’s security interests is no longer bound by geography as developments in cyber, space, nuclear and long-range precision strike have altered the strategic environment in which we operate. To provide security in the space domain, we are focused on strengthening our situational awareness by:

  • Enhancing our space capabilities of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
  • Providing resilient communications.
  • Having the ability to detect and counter emerging space threats.

In order to deliver this capability, Australia’s relationships, particularly with “like-minded” partner nations are critical for the capacity to deliver the Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Initiative. Australia works with like-minded nations to nurture global recognition of the importance of space and the need for nations to operate in a responsible manner.

“Together with other CSpO participants – United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Norway – we aim to generate and improve cooperation, coordination and interoperability opportunities. In doing so, we seek to sustain freedom of action in space, optimise resources, enhance mission assurance and resilience, and ultimately prevent conflict,” LTGEN Frewen added.

Delivering this, LTGEN Frewen said, “We cannot afford to be complacent, our competitors are highly adaptive and are moving quickly – this drives an imperative for the integrated force to think more deeply about protecting its space capabilities, to build resilience and to manage its own signature.

“Achieving and integrating effective space power requires operational concepts, doctrine, tactics, techniques, procedures, logistics and, most importantly, creative and disruptive thinking that can leverage technology, asymmetry and opportunity," LTGEN Frewen said.

“Resilience and readiness are central to our operationalisation of the space domain and realisation of Defence’s Space Strategy. Accordingly, our efforts are focused on four key areas: integrated force operations, force generation, building our space workforce and modernisation and capability uplift.

​ASPCon24 provides a unique platform to explore innovative solutions by bridging cutting-edge research and innovation from defence, research institutions, academia, and industry with key innovators and stakeholders.

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