To assure peace, the United States has no current alternative but to maintain powerful military forces in a state of constant readiness for war. Since the prime purpose of our military forces is to deter war, our deterrent forces will have accomplished their purpose if they never have to be used in battle. Should the United States be required to use its military forces, however, they must be strong enough to achieve victory.
The idea of deterrence through possession of strong military strength is not new. In years past, the deterrent stature of the United States existed in its reserve and mobilization potentials and in the protection afforded by its oceans—as well as in the size and quality of its forces in being. But this has changed. Deterrence can no longer be measured in terms of distance or mobilization potential. The potency and flexibility of powerful striking forces which can retaliate on a moment’s notice, compose the only real deterrent today. This deterrent power can be sufficient only so long as it convinces potential enemies that aggression against the United States and its allies would not pay. The most important responsibility of the United States Air Force is to maintain its deterrent power strong and modern, with forces that are sufficiently flexible to meet all situations in which they are likely to be needed.
The Air Force embarked on the intermediate- and long-range missile programs because the combat potentialities of missiles offered certain advantages in comparison with manned systems. This is true even with early models of missiles, which will be much less efficient than those we expect to obtain later on. The Air Force has made considerable progress in the research and development of missiles, in detailed planning for their operational use, and in the provision of logistic support of missile systems when they became operational. Building a missile capability has been the number-one priority project of the Air Force in recent years.
Although there are many advantages to be gained from exploitation of missiles, care must and will be taken to avoid the danger of going overboard on missiles or, for that matter, on any single weapon system or weapon. USAF studies indicate that even with vastly improved missiles, the strongest force structure, the one providing the best survival insurance, will be one in which missiles and high-performance manned systems are used together in complementary roles. Aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft are mutually supporting systems. They are compatible in development and operational strategies designed to gain and hold a superior advantage in air and space. They are a functionally complete system.
AstronauticsBallistic missiles have sometimes been erroneously referred to as the ultimate weapon. It is extremely doubtful whether there ever can be an ultimate weapon, although experience has shown that a single weapon or weapon system can be decisive at a certain time or place. Missiles should be considered as but another step, albeit a very important step, in the evolution from manned aircraft to true piloted spacecraft.
The Air Force has been pioneering in the fringes of space for several years with manned aircraft. The Bell X-2, a rocket research plane, carried Capt. Iven Kincheloe up to approximately twenty-five miles above the earth at 1,900 miles per hour. the X-15, which is now in the development stage, is designed for speeds and altitudes much greater than those of the X-2. The next step is the Air Force program to fly at hypersonic speeds, circumnavigating the globe many times before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. As a weapon system, this program will represent the first major breakthrough in sustained piloted spaceflight. With this system it will be possible to resolve many of the problems involved in either placing man on a continuous orbit around the earth or sending him soaring into outer space and to nearby planets. At the rate things are going, it is technically feasible for manned spaceflight to become routine in a very few years. The current technological race is producing technological advances at an unprecedented rate. Engine thrust has been increased many times over what was considered excellent a few years ago; and personal equipment has been improved to a point where it will be adequate for manned spaceflight to the moon.
Today, the operational structure of the Air Force reflects this intensive experience in excellent equipment and a dedicated body of professional airmen. predominant characteristics of this structure are quick reaction, flexibility, firepower selectivity, mobility, and penetrative ability. With an infinite number of combinations of range, speed, routes, altitudes, and tactics, and operating in a medium that is undivided, unobstructed, and unlimited, the United States Air Force can accomplish an infinite number of tasks. The forces can be shifted rapidly from task to task or from one locality to another. They can be adapted quickly to various requirements for firepower in war and to employment for humanitarian, political, and psychological purposes in peace. Missiles can be exploited most efficiently and effectively when combined with this extensive operational experience.
The United States and its allies must maintain the capability to exert a steady unremitting pressure against war in the years ahead. This can be done if United States airpower is the best airpower. To be the best it must be ready night and day, for every day of every year, to execute a counterstroke which is powerful, swift, and deadly. Such a force will make an aggressor reluctant to attack. The Air Force is dedicated to creating for our country the best airpower it is possible to produce.
See what senior leaders had to say at AFA's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla.
Find out what senior Air Force and industry leaders had to say at AFA's Air Warfare Symposium.
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