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Tejas jet fighter. Image: Wikimedia

Contested skies: Our uncertain air superiority future

By Peter Layton

Since the end of the Cold War, Western air power has dominated the skies, but that’s rapidly changing.

Peer competitors and armed non-state groups alike have been seemingly so impressed by Western air power that they’re developing their own. Our use of the skies is now contested, and we now need to be able to counter potential adversaries’ use of the air.

Australia appears well placed for this emerging challenge, given our extensive air, maritime and land combat re-equipment plans. However, those plans, and the new major systems being acquired under them, originated more than a decade ago, when America was palpably the unipolar power.

Strategic circumstances, operational doctrines and technology are now considerably different from the early 2000s and are continuing to evolve in concerning directions.