Air–Land Integration

Authored by: Harvey Smyth

Routledge Handbook of Air Power

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138632608
eBook ISBN: 9781315208138
Adobe ISBN:


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Throughout its 100 years of existence, the RAF has maintained an ‘on–off relationship’ with regards to air-land integration (ALI), dictated by the operational imperative of the era. By the end of World War I, it had become apparent that winning wars without robust ALI would henceforth be exceptionally difficult, and more likely impossible. Moreover, the three key tenets to successful ALI had been identified, all which have stood the test of time and endure in contemporary warfare: joint capability development, joint doctrine and training, and joint relationship development. During the last fifteen years of the RAF’s first century, ALI capabilities have flourished, specifically as part of multiple, overlapping joint operations in the Middle East. Looking towards the RAF’s next century, and the introduction of transformational air power capabilities, networked communications, and advanced multi-spectrum sensors, the need for airmen to co-locate with their soldier colleagues in the operational theatre to provide air support has been negated. However, history has proven that such geographic dislocation can dramatically undermine ALI. This chapter contends that if the RAF is to maintain its current pinnacle of ALI capability, it must continue to develop and adapt to new technologies and environments, while remaining ever mindful of ALI’s three key tenets. Although the chapter focuses on the RAF experience it is applicable to all advanced air forces.

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