Churchill once remarked that air power was one the most difficult facets of armed conflict to define and to measure. Nevertheless, the reality is that the last Century has seen an exponential growth in the exploitation of the third dimension with range, speed and precision changing the way in which we think about warfare at any level of conflict.
The history of recent conflicts has shown the vital importance of air power and we are keen to exploit the lessons from these. At the University of Birmingham, we are striving to build a critical mass of air power scholars whose knowledge, research and expertise will make a real contribution to thinking on the subject on a worldwide scale.
A glance through the faculty lists in institutions in most countries will show that there is a surprising dearth of original thinkers on the subject despite its evident allure to military planners and the wider public. This was recognised by the Royal Aeronautical Society in 2008; in concert with Defence Industry and the Royal Air Force they put in place an air power Fellowship and Birmingham was chosen to host this appointment.
The first incumbent, Air Commodore (Retired) Dr Peter Gray has since established a popular MA in Air Power History, Theory and Practice which is delivered on a part time basis over two years. He has quickly attracted a sizeable number of research students at MPhil and Doctoral levels studying a wide range of air power topics. The undergraduates on both the History and War Studies degrees have shown a high degree of interest in the subject for their Group Research projects and Dissertations and the first of these has already progressed to the next level of study.
We are in the process of generating a number of distance learning Masters level interventions and we are confident that the study of air power will continue to attract students from across the world.