• Runway Sunset

AIR POWER CONFERENCE AND RIAT DRAW AIR FORCE DECISION MAKERS
Two major events in the UK next month will see the largest gathering
this year of senior air force personnel from around the globe. The
Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Power Conference in London on July 12
and 13 will offer expert speakers and discussion forums on a theme
of 21st Century partnerships. Many attendees will then head for the
Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford from July 14th
to 16th, a public airshow spectacular that is also a venue for corporate
hospitality.
Leaders from 25 air forces have already booked to attend the
Air Power Conference, and at least 10 more are expected. The
RAF has a reputation for “punching above its weight”, so delegates
will be anxious to hear from its senior leaders on how the
service is mounting continued operations in the Middle East and
elsewhere, while coping with a constrained budget. But there will
also be speakers from academia, industry, other air forces, and
non-government organizations (NGOs), in a program that has been
devised by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the respected
UK defense think-tank.
“This will be a unique gathering that promises two days of
intense and informative debate,” said RAF Air Vice-Marshall Michael
Wigston, assistant chief of the Air Staff. “We live in an era of instability
and rapid change. This tests our existing partnerships and encourages
new ones,” he continued.
But although top brass will lead the discussions, lower-ranking
airmen within the RAF will be encouraged to participate from
afar. The Air Power Conference will be live-streamed to RAF stations,
and questions and comments from there will be encouraged.
This is in the spirit of a recent initiative that the service has named
“Thinking to Win”, after admitting that, “we lack an innovation culture;
we don’t capitalize on training and education as well as we
could; and we don’t have a clear goal that everyone understands.”
AVM Wigston described the initiative as “a license to challenge that
has really taken root.”
Another RAF initiative that will feature at the conference is the
Rapid Capability Office (RCO) that the service recently created. It is
supposed to bring new technologies into service in a faster, more
streamlined fashion. A new company that could benefit from that
approach will be speaking. The London-based tech startup named
Improbable will discuss how powerful high-end meta-system modeling
can be used for simulation, targeting and resilience planning.
There will also be a speaker from the Defence Entrepreneurs Forum
(DEF), an organization that aims to bring “disruptive thinking” to the
military world.
The theme for this year’s RIAT show is the 70th anniversary of the
U.S. Air Force. The Thunderbirds F-16 team is making a transatlantic
trip to display at the show, and there will be a big lineup of USAF
aircraft, including a B-1, B-52, C-17, CV-22 Ospreys and F-22 Raptor
stealth fighters. The U-2 spyplane will also be making a rare public
appearance, following the recent USAF decision to keep the high-flying
jet in service indefinitely. Military aircraft from 17 other countries
are also scheduled to appear at the show.
AIN is a media partner to the Air Power Conference, which is
organized by the Air Power Association. To view the whole program
and to book visit www.airpower.org.uk
Full details of the Royal International Air Tattoo may be found at
www.airtattoo.com—
C.P.