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Airpower and War in the 21st Century

Airpower and War in the 21st Century

University of Nottingham; Centre for Conflict, Security and Terrorism (CST) Workshop; Friday, 13th June 2014

Location: Institute for Aerospace Technology; University of Nottingham; Innovation Park; Jubilee Campus

Key theme:             The roles and utility of airpower in 21st century war and conflict

Sub-themes:                      Contemporary air doctrine

Developments in airpower technology and its implications

‘Drone warfare’ – legal, ethical and strategic considerations

Critical approaches to the study of airpower

In the 21st century military operations without airpower are an unlikely prospect. Yet, our understanding of the role of airpower in modern conflict remains restricted owing to the persistent preoccupation of airpower thinking with arguments either in favour of or against strategic air campaigns. Proponents believe that tactical and technological improvements will steadily strengthen airpower’s prowess. Sceptics, in contrast, hold that airpower’s utility is distinctly limited or even counterproductive, especially in irregular conflicts and today’s era of ‘new’ wars. The challenges of modern war and conflict are far more complex than a straightforward dichotomy between ‘old’ interstate wars and ‘new’ irregular conflicts. It is clear that something has been changing, but the exact nature of these changes and their implications for the utility of airpower are far from clear.

The one-day workshop on Airpower and War in the 21st Century will bring together airpower practitioners and scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. It is intended to break the bounds of the strategic airpower debate. It will seek a more comprehensive approach, linking the study of airpower firmly to current debates on the international, political, technological, legal and ethical aspects of war, thus illuminating dimensions of airpower that are crucial for our understanding of its role in modern warfare, but often tend to be neglected.

The workshop will be held by the University of Nottingham’s Centre of Conflict, Security and Terrorism with support of the Institute of Aerospace Technology and the Institute for Asia and Pacific Studies. Please see detailed programme overleaf.

For more information on the CST:

For more information on the workshop please contact:

Dr Bettina Renz; Co-Director CST:

PLACES AT THE WORKSHOP ARE LIMITED AND ALLOCATED ON A FIRST-COME FIRST-SERVED BASIS. Please contact Dr Bettina Renz if you are interested in attending.


 10:00 – 10:30 Registration and coffee

 10:30 – 12:00 Airpower in the 21st century

  • Professor Phil Sabin, Department of War Studies, King’s College London
  • Dr Peter Gray, Centre for War Studies, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Herve Morvan, Institute for Aerospace Technology, University of Nottingham

12:00 – 13:00 Break

13:00 – 14:30 Contemporary airpower: legal and policy dimensions

  • Professor Nigel White, School of Law, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Janina Dill, Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Oxford (tbc)
  • Sqn Ldr Kenneth Fuchter, Department of War Studies, King’s College London 

14:30 – 16:00 Demystifying ‘drone’ warfare

  • Dr Peter Lee, University of Portsmouth (RAF College Cranwell)
  • Dr Liam McCarthy, Division of Politics & IR; Nottingham Trent University
  • Rogan Collins, Department of Politics & IR, University of Warwick

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee

16:30 – 18:00 Airpower and the changing character of war

  • Wg Cdr Fin Monahan, Air Staff, Deputy Director of Defence Studies (RAF)
  • Samuel Williams, Consultant in Crisis and Risk (Human and Infrastructure), Former RAF Officer and student at the University of Nottingham.
  • Dr Randall Wakelam, Royal Military College Canada, currently visiting fellow, Changing Character of War Programme, University of Oxford 


Published inConflict & Security


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