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RAAF chief warns of tech revolution in future conflicts

leo davies

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies has warned that in this disruptive world it can’t be business as usual.

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies has warned that in this disruptive world it can’t be business as usual.

Speaking at the Air Power conference in Canberra on Tuesday, he said the RAAF was already very capable but is now facing the greatest evolution of air power in its history.

“This disruptive world is presenting new challenges to the role of air power. I don’t know where the next conflict will be but I do know that many of the tools of trade are now more freely available to potential adversaries than ever before,” AIRMSHL Davies said.


“In future conflicts we can expect bases and support infrastructure, including civilian infrastructure, to be targeted through the use of physical and non-physical effects.

“Emerging technologies will revolutionise the application of air power but also give rise to new challenges. Success in the future battlespace requires the co-ordination of joint effects across all domains.”

AIRMSHL Davies said such a change demanded ingenuity and a workforce empowered to think and act outside of the traditional norm.

“Innovation is essential to the realisation of the full potential of this investment. Our next generation of airmen must develop professional mastery that extends beyond mission specialisations,” he said.

Defence Minister Marise Payne said since she last addressed the Air Power conference in 2016, North Korea had made significant steps towards acquiring an ICBM capability and Daesh – Islamic State – had sought to gain a foothold in the region, taking over the city of Marawi in southern Philippines.

Minister Payne said there were risks to our comprehensive embrace of technology.

“Twenty years ago our thoughts would not necessarily have gone to the need to protect our aircraft from cyber security threats but that is exactly what we are now doing,” she said.

“Thirty-five years ago the very secret space-based navigation system called GPS was first opened up to civilian use.”

Minister Payne said it was never really contemplated that one day every emergency service, new car and smartphone would use GPS.

“The exemplifies the challenge of technology. As we increase our reliance on it, we also become vulnerable to attacks,” she said.