Author Topic: Unusual RAAF reaction to Duncan Sandys 1957 Defence White Paper  (Read 2351 times)

Offline Volkodav

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Unusual RAAF reaction to Duncan Sandys 1957 Defence White Paper
« on: December 23, 2013, 07:59:05 PM »
The RAAF were horrified at the content and direction of the 1957 Defence White Paper released in the UK as they feared, rightly or wrongly, that the Australian Government may be temped to follow the same path and attempt to replace manned aircraft with guided missiles.  Their fear was that once guided weapons became the norm a new "purple" service may be created to control and operate them effectively leaving the RAAF as nothing more than a uniformed air freight service.  Even if the RAAF could gain control of all guided weapons where would that leave their reason for existing, flying aircraft?

Being a pragmatic service, with superb staff skills the RAAF decided to protect themselves in the most effective way they could see, they dumped the cornerstones of strategic strike and strategic air defence and concentrated on making tactical airpower in support of the other services and civilian authorities as effective and indispensable as possible.  Their thinking was that these strategic missile forces would be hideously expensive and would likely end up being controlled by the US in the greater scheme of things so it would be better to create a series of pivotal niches for themselves.  Training, Airpower subject matter experts, aviation procurement, safety and concept development. They also took the courageous but necessary step of integrating RAN and Army pilots into these tactical capabilities and providing the other services and civilian authorities operational control of the assets most critical to them. 

The RAAF proceeded to create a flexible frame work where they provided the majority of aviation training where they could indoctrinate impressionable young naval and army officers into the concepts of airpower and also created an air staff college to groom more senior officers.  Instead concentrating airpower they dispersed it as much as possible and made sure through an early form of joint force that the "voice of the customer" was seen to be heard.

Infantry battalions found themselves assigned their very own composite support sqn including Mustangs, Vampires and C-47s, where some of the pilots were army officers (or occasionally RAN) and they got to know and work with them.  Similarly the RAN found that the RAAF Neptunes had started working much more closely with the fleet and the RAAF was very forth coming in letting RAN and army pilots fly even their newest combat aircraft.  Instead of opposing army and RAN plans the RAAF backed them and offered suggestions to improve options available.

The RAAF was one of the driving forces behind the RAN increasing the size and capability of its carrier capability from one modernised Majestic Class Carrier to an eventual five vessels, including Hermes, Victorious and Eagle as well as ex USN Essex.  It was the RAAF that championed the acquisition of the Skyhawk for RAN FAA but also for themselves as a CAS platform for army support where the RAAF were coded to fly from RAN carriers in support of the army as required.  A similar arrangement was used for a joint Crusader force and the joint maritime force using Orions, Neptunes and Trackers. 

The real work was in the mass introduction of helicopters into Australian service with the RAAF coordinating the procurement and operation many types across many overlapping roles and most impressively the creation of a national SAR capability.  With the RAAF on board the RAN never hesitated to specify helicopters for their new ships, the army expected and were provided with aviation support at battle group level.

The greatest impact was when Sandys assumptions were proven to have been wrong the other services backed the RAAF to obtain a ADGE system and interceptors (F-106) as well as a strategic strike capability.

The result of the RAAFs forward thinking was a much earlier move to jointness within the ADF and a united front on strategic defence policy and in turn a much larger and more capable ADF that was more efficiently run.

 ;)

I have suggested some aircraft types but the whole Idea behind this is the RAAF, acting for self preservation, develops a much more equitable and sensible big picture procurement system that advances the requirements of the whole ADF and civilian authorities that are reliant on airpower and or aviation support.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2013, 08:02:34 PM by Volkodav »

Offline Cliffy B

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Re: Unusual RAAF reaction to Duncan Sandys 1957 Defence White Paper
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2013, 12:20:36 AM »
See what happens when the different services work together and put aside they're petty rivalries?!  Wonderful job sir!!!

Only possible issue I can see with the carrier fleet is manning.  Also, if they expanded to 5 CVs, the rest of the fleet would have expanded considerably as well.  Maybe with US and UK assistance?  Hmmm.....  If want help drawing a fleet composition let me know.  I have more than a few ideas  ;)

 8)
"Radials growl, inlines purr, jets blow!"  -Anonymous

"Helos don't fly.  They vibrate so violently that the ground rejects them."  -Tom Clancy

"If all else fails, call in an air strike."  -Anonymous

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
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Re: Unusual RAAF reaction to Duncan Sandys 1957 Defence White Paper
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2013, 02:50:47 AM »
The idea there is the carriers only have token FAA air groups with numbers being made up with RAAF and army personnel as required.  As the services are actually cooperating many of the amphibs are jointly crewed and, on occasion, even commanded by army RAE. 

The 5 carriers and their groups are deliberately unsustainable and will eventually be whittled down to 3 multirole CTOL carriers, 3 LHA/LHD and a number of (6) escort groups each consisting of a DLG/CG, a CVH and two to four DDG/FFG

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: Unusual RAAF reaction to Duncan Sandys 1957 Defence White Paper
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2013, 10:23:54 AM »
The idea there is the carriers only have token FAA air groups with numbers being made up with RAAF and army personnel as required.  As the services are actually cooperating many of the amphibs are jointly crewed and, on occasion, even commanded by army RAE. 

In the time period, they were!  The landing ships we did have, belonged to RAE, not RAN.  If you're talking larger, "real" ships, then I really can't see the RAN relinquishing command.  They may accept Army crew but commanding big ships would have to be a Navy officer.   Just as the RAAF would be IMHO unwilling to relinquish command of RAAF squadrons.   Army/RAN pilots?  I can see that but they'd want to keep control of the formations.


Offline Volkodav

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Re: Unusual RAAF reaction to Duncan Sandys 1957 Defence White Paper
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2013, 11:45:39 AM »
The idea there is the carriers only have token FAA air groups with numbers being made up with RAAF and army personnel as required.  As the services are actually cooperating many of the amphibs are jointly crewed and, on occasion, even commanded by army RAE. 

In the time period, they were!  The landing ships we did have, belonged to RAE, not RAN.  If you're talking larger, "real" ships, then I really can't see the RAN relinquishing command.  They may accept Army crew but commanding big ships would have to be a Navy officer.   Just as the RAAF would be IMHO unwilling to relinquish command of RAAF squadrons.   Army/RAN pilots?  I can see that but they'd want to keep control of the formations.

That's the whole idea, through foresight (to matter how unrealistic), the RAAF were able to coax the army and Navy into a more joint point of view where they removed silos and just went about getting the job done.

It has to be the RAAF taking the lead because they historically have been better at staff work and better at getting their message across, although often to the detriment of the other services.  Being a younger service the RAAF also had less internal tribalism and probably a more innovative slant on things.  My concept is that perceiving the ideas behind the 57 white paper as a threat to their very existence the RAAF lent their ability to sell a story to the ADF as a whole and consciously moved towards a USMC type combined arms model but with significantly greater combat power.  The FAA and army Sqns would still be FAA and Army as would the RAAF units, their leadership would still (with some exceptions) be service specific as would their administrative command structure.  Operational command would be a case by case mission driven matter.

As the RAAF controlled most aviation related training so the RAN would control most marine and seagoing training, the actually manning though would be much more flexible.  There would also be, in exceptional circumstances, the option for individual personnel to change service to further their careers.  Pilots and maintainers with unusual potential could transfer to the RAAF, Army ship drivers and maintainers could move across to the RAN to expand the prospect for promotion.

The most important thing is the services and silos within each service stop fighting each other and pool resources to gain efficiency where possible and maintain individual capabilities where necessary.  Through careful selection and compromise in equipment training and maintenance overheads can be minimised.  For instance by requiring that all tactical combat aircraft be carrier capable and also acceptable for the FAA the RAAF can share many types.  This could be addressed by selecting aircraft favoured by the USMC, USN or even the RN FAA.

When looking at guided missile options why not use land based versions of naval types for defence of critical assets?

Not perfect I know but it is an interesting path to follow, assuming the services can cooperate there could be some very interesting WIFF possibilities.  If the RAN maintained fixed wing carriers to operate RAAF tactical aircraft some of the funding and heads could come out of what would otherwise have been used for air bases.  At an even more basic level there could have been an early adoption of the super base concept where you have a NAS, RAAF base and combined arms brigade all co-located save in infrastructure costs.  With the RAAF flying tactical aircraft off carriers the FAA could concentrate on air defence, ASVW and ASW.

No where near finished, just getting it out there and seeing where it goes.

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
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Re: Unusual RAAF reaction to Duncan Sandys 1957 Defence White Paper
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2013, 11:21:20 PM »
Been thinking and the end game I am looking for is a joint force supporting three US style Expeditionary Strike Groups and five MEUs, including two reserve force, that are basically identical to the US in the type and scale of equipment but differ in that instead of being Navy / Marine Corps they are Army, Navy, Air Force.  There will also be two Carrier Strike Groups each built around a QEC sized carrier.  Escorts will be limited in number but of high capability i.e. AEGIS Destroyers (Likely DDG 51 potentially AW and ABM coded DDG 1000) and Frigates (F-100) supported buy CEAFAR / CEAMOUNT Corvettes (indigenous design) and a very special addition of Hyuga type DDH.  The idea is each escort group will consist of a DDH, a DDG, a FFG (five of each) and a couple of Corvettes (total class of 20) that will use USN LCS Modules for ASW, ASVW and MCM missions as required as well as being available for border protection taskings in their base form without the special mission modules.  Fleet tankers or preferably AOEs, and of course SSNs and smaller patrol, green and brown water forces.  FAA will be AEW and ASW Helos as well as providing personnel to the SAR, Utility / transport and attack helo joint forces and also to the Joint AEW and ASW groups, the F-35A and B Joint forces and possibly also the F-35C strike force (depending on carrier type)

As well as providing the majority of manpower for the MEUs the Army will also maintain a number of combined arms Cavalry Regiments (Heavy and Light) and a specialist air mobile Light Infantry Brigade, and will coordinate the tri service SOF command.  They will provide personnel to the aviation joint forces and also to amphibious and patrol groups.

The RAAF will coordinate all aviation training, certification and maintenance as well as having responsibility for coordinating the regional surveillance assets to maintain a accurate and current picture.  They will own strategic strike and transport and coordinate the national SAR capability.  They will be responsible for coordinating continental air, ABM and space defence.  The majority of combat and combat support squadrons will be RAAF commanded and their deployment / assignment will be controlled by the RAAF, however operational command will be assigned case by case irrespective of service rather determined by mission.