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A UK Air Combat Strategy: Context and Options for the Way Ahead

What options does the UK have for its industry to be on the right side of history with regard to the evolution of the air combat sector?

The report has a firm grasp of our challenges and our options. ”
— Senior UK Defence Official
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES, June 11, 2018 / -- Earlier this year, the UK Minister of Defence, Gavin Williamson, announced the launching of a new air combat strategy for the United Kingdom.

Given the significance of the aerospace industry to the United Kingdom and its role in Europe and the United States in military aerospace, it comes as no surprise that ensuring the future of it industry is important to the UK government.

But the challenges to do so are significant; both in terms of strategic context and in terms of the evolution of air combat itself.

Put in other words, an air combat strategy is not simply a projection of the future of the RAF and what its after Typhoon jet might be; it is about a much broader and more complicated picture within which the fate of the UK and industry are at risk if the approaches taken are not congruent with evolving realities.

To be blunt: dealing with Brexit is complicated enough all by itself; but shaping and forging the future for UK military aerospace industry and of its air enabled forces is made even more difficult by the changing warfighting environment as well.

With Brexit and the current European dynamics, how will the UK air combat strategy interact with European initiatives?

How will the UK leverage Typhoon and shape a post-Typhoon strategy?

How will the UK leverage the launch of its new carrier and the coming of the F-35 to shape a way ahead for a 21stcentury air combat strategy?

Will the new Air Combat Strategy live up to the legacy of Air Marshal Dowding and his focus on the right concepts of operations for the RAF to deal with evolving threats and challenges?

Dr. Robbin F. Laird
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