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RUSI Conference: Air Forces as Weapons Systems

21 February 2018, 9:00 to 17:00
RUSI Whitehall
This conference will examine whether air forces can, or indeed should, seek to fight like a single weapons system rather than the individual platform-centric approach which characterised the fourth generation of combat air.

As several NATO countries prepare to take delivery of the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the next few years, and France and Germany announce their intention to cooperate on the design and procurement of a European fifth or sixth generation combat aircraft, the gap between procurement ambitions and existing concepts of operations is growing.  The proliferation of advanced airpower technologies is also ensuring that cutting edge air strategies are no longer the sole preserve of the West, with multiple actors in Asia and the Middle East finding new ways to employ current and upcoming technologies.

The model which has been developed by the United States to run the complex multinational air campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria suggests a possible future framework for other air forces. In effect, the US Air Force is run from the CAOC at Al Udeid as a single weapons system where the sensor, shooter and weapons used for each strike are secondary to the overall commander’s intent. Likewise, the US Navy’s naval integrated fire control – counter air (NIFC-CA) concept also relies on leveraging major advances in real time network link technology and central processing power to allow operational C2 which is sensor/shooter platform agnostic.

A key question as countries around the world examine their future combat air capabilities is whether air forces can, or indeed should, seek to fight like a single weapons system rather than the individual platform centric approach which characterized the fourth generation of combat air. Delegates will hear from the US Air Force and Royal Air Force, alongside representatives from multiple air forces in Europe, the Middle East and Asia who are exploring significantly different strategic approaches and force mixes. All are seeking to generation maximum air combat capability within the confines of their financial and political circumstances, and can offer valuable insights for airpower practitioners and theorists who often risk becoming intellectually stove-piped within their own national approaches. 


Air Vice Marshall Simon ‘Rocky’ Rochelle, Chief of Staff Capability, Royal Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Marco Schiattoni, European 4th/5th Generation Integration, European Air Group

Dr Igor Sutyagin, Senior Research Fellow for Russian Studies, RUSI

Ole Jørgen Maaø, Associate Professor, Royal Norwegian Air Force Academy

Air Marshal (Retd) Greg Bawell, Former Deputy Commander (Operations), RAF


Standard - £250

RUSI Corporate Member - £200

Government, Military, Academia - £100

Students - £25

*A limited number of student tickets are available. Please register using a valid .ac email address.Valid Student ID will be required on the day of the event.

Conference Manager

Sajid Ali
Event Manager
+44 (0) 207 7472 648

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