The Co-Hosts for the Copenhagen Airpower Symposium: The Williams Foundation and the Centre for Military Studies


2015-05-04 The recent Airpower symposium held in Copenhagen, Denmark was co-hosted by the Williams Foundation and the Centre for Military Studies, University of Copenhagen.

This outreach from Australia to Northern Europe parallels the Aussie engagement in the battle against ISIS and the evolving relationship between Europe and Asia, which has seen new agreements between Norway, the UK, France, and Japan.

Denmark is a major commercial maritime power with global reach, and operates one of Europe’s most expeditionary air forces, so it should be no surprise that there is interest in both Denmark and Australia to better understand expeditionary operations under the impact of evolving airpower.

John Blackburn, Deputy Chair of the Sir Richard Williams Foundation, speaking at the Copenhagen Airppwer Conference. Credit Photo: SLD
John Blackburn, Deputy Chair of the Sir Richard Williams Foundation, speaking at the Copenhagen Airpower Conference. Credit Photo: SLD 

The Sir Richard Williams Foundation is based in Canberra, Australia and is focused on airpower and its further development.

The Sir Richard Williams Foundation is an independent research organisation whose purpose is to promote the development and effective implementation of national security and defence policies as they impact on Australia’s ability to generate air power appropriate to its unique geopolitical environment and values.

The Foundation aims to strengthen Australia’s national security by advocating the need for forward-looking policies which take full advantage of the potential for air power to shape and influence regional security; and by promoting constructive debate regarding the implementation of such policies.

Last year, the Williams Foundation held a seminar which addressed the challenges of airpower modernization.

According to the Willliams Foundation website:

On Tuesday 11 March 2014, The Sir Richard Williams Foundation conducted its biannual seminar on “Air Combat Operations – 2025 and Beyond.”  The seminar explored the challenges and opportunities afforded by the introduction of 5th generation air combat capabilities. 

Themes explored included:

  • The future Asia / Pacific security environment.
  • Future technology advances and challenges.
  • How the US Marines are approaching the challenge of integration of 5th generation capabilities with the legacy force.
  • Consideration on how the RAAF will approach the transition to, and integration of, 5th generation airpower capabilities.

The major presentations were as follows:

Air Combat Operations Seminar Intent – AVM John Blackburn (Retd) 

Keynote Address – AIRMSHL Geoff Brown, Chief of Air Force 

Regional Security Environment 2025 – Prof Michael L’Estrange ANU

A Chinese Perspective – Dr John Lee University of Sydney 

Advances in Technology – Mr Peter Hunter

5th Generation Experience: My Story – LTCOL David Berke USMC

5th Generation Capability Integration – COL Mike Orr USMC

F-35 Update – LTGEN Christopher Bogdan USAF F-35 Program Executive Officer 

The presentations were delivered on the day and we thank the individual presenters for allowing us to share their insights and anecdotes.

For a summary of the Seminar see the following:

For an additional overview on the seminar, which provides an overview on Australian defense modernization, see the following:

The Centre for Military Studies is an academic research center which focuses more broadly on the defense and security issues affecting Denmark.

According to the Centre’s website:

The Centre for Military Studies is a university research centre focusing on policy-relevant research and research-based information and innovation that identify options for Denmark’s defence and security policy in a globalised world.

Research at the Centre is thus a means to identify policy options in a complex, interconnected security environment.

We work closely with the Danish Ministry of Defence, the Danish Armed Forces and the political level to investigate issues and develop ideas and options…..

The Centre seeks to bridge the inherently global nature of security issues and security actors and the national Danish foreign, security and defence policy discourse.

It does so by utilising Scandinavian traditions for a meaningful dialogue between industry, civil-society, parliament, officials and the armed forces.

The Centre is a go-to-place for dialogue and policy-options.

The Centre harnesses concepts, trends and evidence into tools for understanding and acting on Danish defence and security issues.

Dr. Gary Schaub, Jr of the Centre of Military Studies. Opening the Danish Airpower Conference. Credit: SLD
Dr. Gary Schaub, Jr of the Centre of Military Studies. Opening the Danish Airpower Conference. Credit: SLD

At the Airpower Symposium held on April 17, 2015, the latest piece of research conducted by the Centre, on the lessons to be learned from the F-16 experience for Denmark as the country looks to replace that aircraft with a next generation one, was released.

According to the Centre’s website:

When Denmark chose to acquire a fleet of 58 F-16 combat aircraft in 1975, it received substantial and disproportionate benefits given the way that investment was made and managed. 

Buying a common aircraft type together with allies deepened Denmark’s ties to its Alliance partners, including deploying in multinational formations with those partners.

It enabled multinational cooperation to modernize the aircraft at greatly reduced costs over its lifetime. 

Common aircraft also enabled improved training opportunities for Danish pilots and substantial assistance from the United States when pilot shortages threatened to idle 25 percent of Danish F-16s.

Common aircraft did not guarantee that Denmark would be as effective as others in coalition air campaigns, however.

This required substantial modernization of the aircraft, acquisition of advanced systems and munitions, reorganization of the Royal Danish Air Force, a change in its organizational culture, and sufficient numbers of pilots. Once these adaptations occurred, Danish performance in expeditionary air operations garnered Denmark praise from its coalition and Alliance partners. 

Danish leaders should cooperate with its allies in a similar way to replicate this experience when they choose a replacement aircraft in 2015.

Because international cooperation proved to be such an important part of the Danish F-16 experience, the Centre for Military Studies partnered with The Williams Foundation of Australia to host a symposium at Kastellet in April 2015. 

Together 10 airpower experts from Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States explored how medium and small air forces could cooperate with one another to generate innovative concepts of operation that increase joint combat power to address regional and global security issues in the coming years. 

That report can be found here:

For an overview on the Centre for Military Studies and its work, see the following briefing by Dr. Gary Schaub, Jr.:

Centre for Military Studies

And like the Williams Foundation, the Centre hosted an airpower conference last year, with their focus upon the transformation of the European air forces.