Posts Tagged 'Air Power Studies'

Are you an Air Power Studies MPhil/PhD Student?

As I have mentioned previously one of my roles is that I am the Student Representative on the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Air Power Group Committee. In order to help me in this role it would be useful to establish a mailing list for postgraudate researchers working in the field of Air Power Studies so that we may discuss issues that may be taken to the committee. I am also interested in finding out who is currently engaged in doctoral research in order to illustrate the diversity of work that is ongoing. The list would also be a useful way of networking and providing you with information of events and publications that may be of interest. You do not need to be a member of RAeS for this, though membership does give you access to the publications such as the Journal of Aeronautical History.

If you wish to be added to the list, please email me at with the following details:


Working Thesis Title



Date of Completion


I would like to hear from as many scholars as possible. Air Power Studies, as a sub-set of the broader War Studies field, encompasses all aspects of History, Strategic Studies, Economics, Law, Ethics, Philosophy and International Relations.


What can the Royal Aeronautical Society do for you?

One of the many activities I undertake is that I am the Student Representative on the committee of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Air Power Group. The group is one of the specialist groups of the society and ‘it arose from the wish of the then President of the Society to promote interest in the study of air power and to enable the Society to offer views on air power topics.’ One of the great success of the group has been the establishment of the Senior Research Fellow in Air Power Studies at the University of Birmingham, which is held by Air Commodore (ret’d) Dr Peter Gray. This position has seen an expansion in the provision of the academic study of air power with the emergence of an MA in Air Power: History, Theory and Practice and numerous PhD students now studying the topic at Birmingham. Because of this increased provision, I ‘volunteered’ to act as a student representative.

Therefore, what I would like to know from those students at any institution studying air power related topics (this is broadly defined, and encompasses history, law, ethics, and strategic studies related topics) is what can the group do for you? What support can be provided? All ideas are welcomed. I cannot promise anything but I can take the ideas to the committee and raise any concerns or thoughts that you may have.

Tweeting Exploring the Frontiers of Air Power Research Workshop

Today is the first day of the Air Power Workshop at the Centre for War Studies at the University of Birmingham. This is an important and exciting event that seeks to explore future avenues of research in the field of Air Power Studies.

Rather than write a report on the two days activities I am tweeting some key points that are raised during the course of the workshop. You can follow these tweets by following the hash tag #airpowerresearch. Hopefully this works.

Precis of the Air Power Symposium

After a successful symposium a couple of weeks back, we are hoping to post up some posts by the contributors based on the papers that were delivered.

The first will be a paper by Ian Shields, who is completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge. His paper was entitled ‘What does Time and Space Mean for the Airman?’

Watch this space to see what exciting research is ongoing in Air Power Studies in the UK.

Air Power Events at the University of Birmingham

I have just recieved the War Studies Semianr list fromt he Centre for First World War Studies and we have some interesting air power based seminars coming up in the next year.

16 November: Mr John Alexander (University of Birmingham), ‘Combined Action: RAF counter-insurgency operations during the Arab revolt

1 March: I. Shields (University of Cambridge), ‘Airpower and ethics’

15 March: Dr David Jordan (King’s College London), ‘New perspectives on the Battle of Britain

7 June: Dr Peter Gray (University of Birmingham), ‘Official squeamishness- the Bomber Command campaign medal saga’

Some very interesting topics.

The Seminar meets on TUESDAYS at 5.30 p.m. in Lecture Room 3, 1st Floor, Arts Building, University of Birmingham

Air Power Studies Postgraduate Symposium at the University of Birmingham

As previously mentioned here are the deatils for the forthcoming Air Power Postgraduate Symposium that is being held at the University of Birmingham on 23 September.

Air Power Studies

Thursday 23rd September 2010

Air Power Postgraduate Research Symposium

Lecture Room 8, Third Floor, Arts Building, University of Birmingham

An informal exploration of air power research topics and issues.


0930 Coffee and Registration

1000 Welcome and Introduction by Air Commodore (Ret’d) Dr Peter Gray (Director of Air Power Studies)

1005 A Recent Graduate’s perspective Air Commodore Neville Parton PhD

Panel 1

1030-1050 Ross Mahoney – The Leadership Effectiveness of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory

1050-1110 Peter Dye – Air Power and Logistics in the First World War

1110-1130 James Pugh – Control of the Air

1130 Coffee – Foyer on Third Floor – Lecture Room 8

Panel 2

1150-1210 Andy Walters – Air Power and COIN

1210-1230 Tom Withington – Title (TBC)

1300 Lunch

1345 The External Examiner’s Perspective by Professor Gary Sheffield with Air Power input from Dr Christina Goulter of the  JSCSC, KCL

Panel 3

1415-1435 Kenny Fuchter – China (TBC)

1435-1455 Clive Richards – The Air Ministry 1932 – 1949

1455-1515 Peter Preston-Hough – Air Superiority over Burma 1941-1945

1515 Tea

1530 What the Air Historical Branch can do for you by Seb Cox, Head of the Air Historical Branch, MoD

Panel 4

1600-1620 Ian Shields – tbc

1620-1640 John Alexander – The RAF in Hashemite Iraq

1645 Wash-up and discussion by Proffessor Gary Sheffield

1700 Close

Please contact Mrs Carolyn Sweet, Secretary of the Centre for First World War Studies, to confirm attendance. Tel.: 0121 414 3983 e-mail: Directions and downloadable maps are also available from the University of Birmingham Web Site.

Any questions please post here.

A New Twist in the ‘Atlantique Incident’?

Along with Germany, France and Italy, Pakistan was one of the customers for the Dassault-Breguet Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft, purchasing four airframes during the 1970s and 1980s. Pakistan’s Atlantique No.33 has been at the centre of a long-running despite between India and Pakistan.

These South Asian rivals have fought each other four times since their independence from British rule in 1947, most recently in May 1999 following the infiltration by Pakistani forces of Indian Territory around the town of Kargil in the disputed northern province of Kashmir. By June, India had repulsed the infiltration, although an uneasy peace existed between the two nations.

Two months after the war’s end, tensions remained high. Disaster struck on 10th August 1999, when Atlantique No. 33 of the Pakistan Navy’s 29 Squadron made a normal departure at 09.15 Pakistan Time (Greenwich Mean Time/GMT +5) from Karachi. Once airborne, the Atlantique was tracked by Indian Air Force ground radar with the aircraft reportedly flying close to the international border between the two countries.

Two Indian Air Force MiG-21bis (NATO reporting name ‘Fishded-N’) combat aircraft were scrambled to intercept the Atlantique. Exactly what happened for the next two hours remains a mystery. Established facts say that the Atlantique was engaged at 11.17 Indian Standard Time (GMT +5.30) by a Vympel R-60 (NATO reporting name ‘AA-8 Aphid’) infra-red guided air-to-air missile, which was fired by one of the MiG-21s. The missile hit the Atlantique’s port engine making the aircraft loose control and hit marsh land in the Great Ran of Kutch; an area which had been the scene of another territorial dispute between the two countries. All 16 crew members on board the Atlantique were killed.

Claims and counter-claims regarding the so-called ‘Atlantique Incident’ have raged since the shoot down. The Pakistani government argued that the aircraft’s wreckage had been found on its side of the border, inferring that the plane was shot down when still flying in Pakistani airspace; adding that the aircraft had been performing a training flight at the time, and not an offensive mission.

The Indian Air Force retorted that the aircraft had violated its airspace and an agreement signed by India and Pakistan in 1991, which stated that military aircraft of either nation were not permitted to fly within 5.4 nautical miles of their mutual international border. Moreover, India raised questions as to why a training mission was being performed so close to a sensitive international border.

So what mission was the Atlantique performing on that fateful day? As noted above, the Pakistan government argued that the aircraft was flying nothing more sinister than a training mission. However, allegations have been made that the Atlantique may have been testing the response times of the Indian Air Force’s air defence network, by flying provocatively towards the border, and monitoring the reaction times and radar frequencies used by Indian air defence radar and fighters. This is a standard procedure for identifying weak points in a nation’s air defence system through which it may be possible for strike packages of aircraft to ingress relatively unseen during any future conflict.

We will probably never know for certain the mission that Atlantique No.33 was performing that fateful day. However, during the course of some unconnected research, the author stumbled upon an interesting piece of information. In 1993, Pakistan’s Atlantiques were outfitted with a piece of equipment known as a DR-3000A Electronic Support Measure. The DR-3000A was a product made by Thomson-CSF (now Thales) in France and designed to collect information regarding radar. Principally it listens for radar operating in the eight-to-twelve gigahertz frequency range, known as the X-band, which is popularly used for naval surveillance, air surveillance and fighter surveillance radar. By using the DR-3000A it would be possible to gather information regarding the characteristics and behaviour of any radar operating across these frequencies, affording important electronic intelligence, especially if somebody was keen to learn how to use electronic warfare to jam these radar.

Although nobody is claiming that Pakistan’s Atlantique was performing a Signals Intelligence mission on the day it was shot down, the presence of an aircraft with a SIGINT capability near such a sensitive area certainly does raise some interesting questions.

By Thomas Whithington


Welcome to The Aerodrome, the unofficial blog of the Air Power Studies students at the University of Birmingham.

Please note all opinions expressed are those of the contributors and should not be taken to be those of the University of Birmingham, the Ministry of Defence or any other organisation or body.

Non-students will from time to time contribute to this blog.

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As an adjunct to this blog we have set up an Air Power Forum for students and academics working in the field of Air Power Studies.

You can find the forum here.

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You can also find an Air Power Studies networking group on LinkedIn

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