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Trenchard Lecture — The RAF and Strategic Air Power

14 November 2019

Paul Stoddart, an Operational Analyst at the RAF Air Warfare Centre, will offer examples of when air power worked, and why it worked, and when air power failed, and why it failed. The lecture will emphasise the essential need to understand the scenario, the adversary and the nature of the high level requirements

Operations Room Conference, Bomber Command, Herbert Oliver Oil Painting

TALK OUTLINE

Air power is one means of turning money potentially into influence but it must be applied intelligently. Air forces such as the RAF and USAF justified their independence by claiming not only that they possessed entirely different capabilities from navies and armies but also a unique ability to achieve strategic effect. In practice, the results, especially in the early years, fell far short of the claims made for competency and results. The eventual development and adoption of new technology transformed the performance attainable by air forces; however, the effects achieved were not invariably of the same high level. The lessons of experience were there to be learned but were not always granted the attention they merited.
The term ‘strategic’ has been variously used and misused in air force circles with applications ranging from the geo-political, such as achieving war-winning objectives, to the technological such as the long-range heavy bomber. Ironically, strategic effect has been achieved by tactical aircraft while so-called strategic assets have been used very effectively in tactical roles. Air power has definitely proved itself capable of achieving strategic effect but it has also failed in this respect. The reasons for these successes and (perhaps especially) these failures need to be better understood to increase the likelihood of success in the future. An important observation from history is that air forces’ characteristic enthusiasm for new technology can mean that they too readily dismiss the hard won lessons of the past while seeking a solution in the form of hardware. The lecture offers some examples of when air power worked and why it worked and when air power failed and why it failed. In particular, the essential need to understand the scenario, the adversary and the nature of the high level requirements is emphasised.

LOCATION AND TIME

This lecture will take place in a different room to those held earlier this year. Please ensure you note the new location given below.
  
The lecture will be held in the Wulfruna Building, MA, Council Room (MA221), University of Wolverhampton, at 18:30pm on Thursday 14 November 2019.
  
A Wolverhampton street map and a University of Wolverhampton campus map can be downloaded using the links provided.

TICKETS

This lecture is free of charge, however, we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket as seats are limited. Booking is quick and easy:

book now

ABOUT PAUL STODDART

Paul Stoddart was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1983 and served as an aero-systems engineer officer for eight years. He served on the VC-10 and Hawk and as directing staff on Initial Officer Training at the RAF College Cranwell. After leaving, he worked as a journalist on a car magazine and as a teacher of English as a foreign language before joining the Ministry of Defence as an analyst. He then worked at Farnborough on the Tornado successor programme and Boscombe Down as the programme manager for the Harrier and Sea Harrier trials clearance projects. His final role at Boscombe Down was as the programme manager for the Jaguar. It is notable that all three types he was involved with, Harrier, Sea Harrier and Jaguar were withdrawn from service much earlier than planned. Fortunately, he did not touch either Tornado or Typhoon. He then attended the Advanced Command & Staff Course at the Joint Services Command & Staff College at Shrivenham from 2000 to 2001 gaining an MA degree in Defence Studies from King’s College London. He took up his current post as an operational analyst for the RAF. Paul is a Fellow of the RAeS and a member of the RAeS Air Power Group committee. He has written and lectured on a range of military aircraft subjects, most recently organising RAeS conferences on the 1943 Dams Raid (17 May 2018), the future of UK air power (19 Nov 2018) and a review of air power in 1944 north-western Europe (15 May 2019).

RAF MUSEUM RESEARCH PROGRAMME

The Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies form a part of the RAF Museum’s Research Programme for 2019. This programme consists of the First World War in the Air Lunchtime Lectures at our London site, the Cold War Lunchtime lectures at our Cosford site and other events such as conferences. For further details about the Research Programme please contact: harry.raffal@rafmuseum.org

The Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies are held in conjunction with the Royal Aeronautical Society and the War Studies Department at the University of Wolverhampton.
Please note that lectures are subject to change.
DOWNLOAD 2019 LECTURE PROGRAMME


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