Kym Bergmann: Looking at the future of air combat, emphasis is now being placed on joint multi-domain operations. How will the RAAF contribute to those?
Air Marshal Chipman: Joint multi-domain operations require a degree of control in each domain for the joint force to manoeuvre effectively.
Air Force’s first contract is therefore to control manoeuvre in the air and space domains to enable the joint force. When we do this, it creates opportunities and the freedom to manoeuvre in other operational domains, and of course, the reciprocal is also true. Successful multidomain operations integrate and synchronise the effects within each domain, as well as between them to combat an adversary.
Air Force has been on this journey for a generation, and our warfighters are skilled in making tactical and operational decisions in the air domain for strategic outcomes elsewhere. Our current suite of platforms and capabilities enable us to support actions in other domains by sharing information to create a common battlespace picture and conducting cooperative targeting to efficiently engage potential adversaries. Our ability to integrate air and space power with the joint force will only grow in importance in the future.
Are additional platforms required for the performance of multi-domain operations?
We are already structured for and conduct multi-domain operations. We will continue to improve efficiency in multi domain warfare through integration—linking systems and actions in a domain, as well as between domains. This ‘systems-of-systems’ approach is achieved by networking our current capabilities more readily and flexibly incorporating emerging tech. All three ADF services are working together to ensure our capabilities are networked to deliver distributed lethality and other effects across domains, and this includes collaboration on networks, data sharing, weapons and tactics. Meeting the multi-domain requirements of the future joint force may require investments in new platforms. It will certainly require regular upgrades to those already in service. Air Force continually evaluates the future with a view of ensuring the capabilities we operate continue to meet the needs of the Australian Government.
How is the RAAF structured to participate in coalition operations?
Air Force is structured to be ready, resilient, and resourceful in supporting joint operations as directed by the Australian Government. Air Force aviators conduct collective training across force element groups and integrate our capabilities with Navy and Army. Our close relationships with key allies — such as the United States — enable us to successfully integrate during coalition operations as required. We have a rich history of fighting successfully in a coalition environment, and are adept at deploying tailored Air Task Groups into coalition operations to achieve our strategic objectives.
What are the consequences for RAAF of the AUKUS agreement? Do you anticipate any further developments in this domain?
Our pursuit of advanced capabilities under AUKUS aims to accelerate development and bolster interoperability to maintain and extend our capability advantages. AUKUS also offers an opportunity to align capability priorities, amplifies our collective strength and accelerates capability acquisition for mutual strategic benefit. We are currently pursuing opportunities to accelerate hypersonics under AUKUS but will also benefit indirectly from other initiatives such as collaboration on artificial intelligence. We remain open to future collaboration opportunities through AUKUS.