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Air Power Scholars 

The Air Power Scholars program is a cooperative endeavour between the Sir Richard Williams Foundation and the Air and Space Power Centre.  It aims to develop a small group of Air Force Officers with the intellectual skills, theoretical knowledge and practical experience to engage credibly in the global air and space power dialogue.  PhD candidates are supported by the Air and Space Power Centre and the Williams Foundation.  The Williams foundation supports scholars  financially with up to $20,000 per PhD candidate over the course of their research.

In December 2019, GPCAPT Jarrod Pendlebury was the first to complete his PhD with the support of the program. The PhD is titled The Dawn Horizon: Constructing an Air Force Identity During Initial Officer Training in Australia, The United States and The United Kingdom.  Williams Board members extend their congratulations to GPCAPT Pendlebury.

Sir Richard Williams Foundation Scholars

Completed PhDs


GPCAPT Jarrod Pendlebury

The Dawn Horizon: Constructing an Air Force Identity During Initial Officer Training in Australia, The United States and The United Kingdom.

Completion December 2019, University of Sydney

Abstract:  Many of the arguments supporting diversity in the military focus on the instrumental benefits available to an organisation that embraces difference. Viewed through this lens, there is a risk of diversity becoming another ‘to do,’ and prioritised according to available resources. Arguing for diversity primarily from the perspective of a capability-based argument also fails to challenge the tension between a military’s combat effectiveness, and its adherence to the values and laws of the state it protects. This thesis seeks to reframe the diversity debate by arguing that a diverse military reflective of the demography of society is a fundamental requirement in a Western liberal democracy.


AIRCDRE Steve Edgeley

The Dawn Horizon: Constructing an Air Force Identity During Initial Officer Training in Australia, The United States and The United Kingdom.

Completion December 2021, University of Sydney

Abstract:  That recent changes in the operational environment have required the RAAF to focus on the application of joint effects, this change in operational focus has led to cultural and organisational changes that make it an imperative to embrace jointness.

Current Scholars


Squadron Leader Andrew Lloyd

A Contemporary Study of Aerial Delivery in the Australian Context

Expected completion date: 2025

Abstract: A first principles approach to investigate the ADF use of Aerial Delivery Equipment (ADE) has not previously been conducted. Aerial Delivery is a potent capability that is underutilised due to logistical complexities and a lack of defined mission assuredness. In particular, the use of Aerial Delivery methods involving parachutes can be cumbersome and may be unnecessarily complex after considering technical and safety risks. 
High cost precision airdrop capabilities have had extensive research and their emergence has yielded an expansive literature basis. Conventional airdrop using parachutes is also a well-established research area. There is, however, an opportunity to explore alternate means of Aerial Delivery to achieve the same or similar end states. To date, adopted methods to dissipate energy are limited to the use of cardboard Energy Dissipating Material (EDM). This product is optimised for a particular rate of descent and limited research exists to inform alternative methods of energy dissipation or non-parachute systems to retard the rate of descent. 

Planned to undertake Williams Foundations Sponsored dedicated study period at ASPC in 2023.

Squadron Leader Sally-Ann Knox

A new psychology of military leadership

Expected completion date: December 2023, University of Queensland

Abstract: Elucidating the processes by which catastrophic consequences of military operational errors are reduced and avoided, primarily by exploring the group’s ability to internalise highly reliable behaviour as part of a shared social identity that is cultivated and embedded by purposeful, military-specific identity leadership.

Completed Williams Foundation Sponsored dedicated study period at ASPC in 2021


Squadron Leader Kate Yaxley

Behaviour shaping and influence of cognitive swarming systems

Expected completion date: 2022/23 depending university assessment timelines

Abstract: An example of a naturally occurring swarm is a flock of sheep. Together, sheep work together to achieve the goal of survival, relying on high visual and aural acuity to avoid potential risks. By introducing an external agent perceived as a threat, such as a sheepdog or drone, the presence of the external agent induces behaviour changes and influences towards a known goal to the external agent, yet unknown to the flock of sheep. The influence applied by the external agent is a result of triggering a predation risk response, whereby the flock responds to the presence of the dog with behaviours that ensure survival. The purpose of this research is to more accurately reflect the behaviour shaping and influence of cognitive swarms in a simulation environment. Such agent-based models have the potential to support machine education curriculums for autonomous system development.

Completed Williams Foundation Sponsored dedicated study period at ASPC in 2021


AIRCDRE Jason Begley

Soft Options for a Hard Issue

 University of New South Wales

Abstract: Assess the degree to which Air Force effectively projects soft power and whether there are viable opportunities for it to improve.


GPCAPT Travis Hallen

The Gatekeepers: The Development of Royal Australian Air Force Maritime Patrol during the Cold War.

 Australian National University

More details to follow


Photo: Department of Defence


The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, AO, CSC launched the five year pilot Air Power Scholar program as part of the 2016 Air Power Conference in Canberra.  

The Williams Foundation awards a scholarship of up to $20,000 each year of the program to the candidate undertaking the full-time study. This payment assists scholars with expenses associated with their academic program and will contribute to consultancy fees for a program mentor.

This five year pilot program will support the five selected Air Force officers to undertake PhD studies. The agreement with the Air Force enables the Foundation to formally support scholars in their further education and strengthen the level of debate on military aviation issues.

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