Royal Australian Air Force


Air Force Vision
“One team – swift, decisive,
resilient and respected”

Today’s Air Force is built on the proud history and traditions of the Australian Flying Corps and the Royal Australian Air Force since its formation in 1921.

Air Force provides immediate and responsive military options across the spectrum of operations as part of a Whole of Government joint or coalition response, either from Australia or deployed overseas.

Air Force achieves this position through the key air power roles – control of the air; precision strike; intelligence, surveillance and response; and air mobility – enabled by combat and operational support.

We exploit the air power characteristics of persistent and precision effect, flexibility, perspective, reach, penetration, versatility and responsiveness.

The RAAF employs about 13,500 men and women, supported by 2,800 Air Force Reservists and 900 civilian public servants, at 11 major bases and a host of offices across Australia. Air Force Headquarters is located in Canberra.

The Air Force Vision is a fighting force that “will be a balanced expeditionary air force capable of achieving the Australian Government’s objectives through swift and decisive application of air and space power in joint operations or as a part of a larger coalition force”.

In an authoritative publication on Air Power, ‘The Australian Experience of Air Power’, Australia’s security policy changes are described as going from a strategy in the 1950s of forward defence, with provision for expeditionary operations, to one of defence of Australia. As late as 1987, this defensive stance persisted with a policy of defending the sea-air gap across northern Australia.

This need to defend in the sea-air gap led to the establishment of bare bases across Australia’s north, including RAAF Scherger on Cape York, RAAF Curtin near Derby WA and RAAF Tindal near Katherine NT (also a permanent base for F/A-18 Hornet fighters). These bases would be needed to launch aircraft into the sea-air gap if a threat emerged.

This attitude changed in the mid-1990s, with the Government stating that the defence of Australia required the ADF to structure towards ‘defending Australian regional interests’. This meant the ADF would become more capable in expeditionary operations.

With a force of around 13,500 the RAAF has been highly successful in continuing to support a number of operations and missions overseas, which has resulted in a continuing high operational tempo.

This led to an ongoing program of ‘rebalancing’ the RAAF, aimed at distributing personnel and assets to where they are most needed – especially in the introduction of new technologies and weapon systems.

The future of the RAAF will be shaped by a number of factors: its history in times of war and peace, lessons drawn from more recent operations as part of larger coalition expeditionary forces, emerging threats globally and regionally, and the prevailing doctrine in response to Government policies on the safeguarding Australia’s security.


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