Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld on the Way Ahead for the RAAF in the Indo-Pacific Region

By 2020 Air Power Conference

On May 5, 2020RAAF Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld  presented an overview on the RAAF and its role in the Indo-Pacific region at the virtual RAAF Airpower Conference on the Indo-Pacific Region.

Originally, the conference was to be held in March 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19.

But the RAAF’s Airpower Development Centre has moved ahead with a virtual conference, consisting of the core presentations which would have been given in person.

In his presentation, Air Marshal Hupfeld focused on the kind of force the ADF needs to defend Australia’s interests in the region.

“Over the course of this conference we will be exploring what all of this means for how air and space power can contribute to Indo-Pacific security.

“It is a critically important topic to explore. The Indo-Pacific is our region; we are at its heart and it is where we live. It embraces our Pacific family, our close neighbours, our major trading partners, strategic partners and allies, and the world’s fastest growing economies. It offers unparalleled opportunity and its dynamism can support ongoing economic growth, creating jobs and enhancing our standard of living.

“But it is a region in flux.

“Australia cannot afford be an indifferent bystander if we are to safeguard our sovereignty, our safety and our livelihoods.

“We must sharpen our influence and bring it to bear to protect and promote our interests.”

Air Marshal Hupfeld’s remarks can be viewed below:


For an e-book version of the presentation, see the following:

Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld was born in Sydney in 1962. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as an RAAF Academy Cadet in January 1980, winning the Flying Prize for his year and graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983.

Air Marshal Hupfeld’s early career was spent in a variety of flying positions on Mirage and F/A-18 aircraft, primarily with No 3 Squadron (3SQN) and No 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU), before qualifying as a Fighter Combat Instructor in 1989. Following a period of service as B Flight Commander, 3SQN, Air Marshal Hupfeld was appointed as the Executive Officer of 2OCU in 1995.

In 1997 Air Marshal Hupfeld was selected to attend the Royal Air Force Advanced Staff Course, graduating with a Master of Arts in Defence Studies from King’s College in London, before taking up post as a Deputy Director in the Aerospace Development Branch.

In 2001 Air Marshal Hupfeld took command of No 75 Squadron (75SQN)

and led the Squadron in operations in Middle East on Operations BASTILLE and FALCONER. In 2003 Air Marshal Hupfeld was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross in recognition of his performance as Commanding Officer 75SQN on Operation FALCONER, and his Squadron was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation.

On promotion to Group Captain in January 2004 he was appointed Director Aerospace Combat Development in the Australian Defence Headquarters, before accepting appointment as Officer Commanding No 81 Wing in January 2006. Promoted to Air Commodore on November 2007, he became the Director of the Combined Air Operations Centre in the Middle East Area of Operations, before returning to Australia as the Director-General Air / Director General Air Command Operations in March 2008. In December 2009, he took command of Air Combat Group where he oversaw all of the RAAF’s fast-jet combat aircraft to deliver Australia’s capability to control the air and conduct precision strike.

Air Marshal Hupfeld was promoted and appointed as the Air Commander Australia on 3 February 2012. In this position he provided specialist air advice on raise, train and sustain issues to the joint environment.

In September 2014 he was appointed Head Capability Systems Division in the Capability Development Group. In 2015 Air Marshal Hupfeld received an appointment as Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the Australian Defence Force in senior command and staff appointments. In August 2015 he was appointed to the role of Acting Chief Capability Development Group. On the disbandment of Capability Development Group, Air Marshal Hupfeld took up the newly created position of Head Force Design in Vice Chief of Defence Force Group on 1 April 2016.

On promotion, Air Marshal Hupfeld was appointed as Chief Joint Operations in May 2018 and subsequently Chief of Air Force in July 2019.

Air Marshal Hupfeld is married to Louise, and his interests include mountain biking, running, fishing, light aircraft, and sailing.