There is no need for me to go into detail concerning the most dangerous military threat facing this county. It is Soviet airpower. The advent of ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads has not changed this threat – it has merely brought the threat closer to home. Soviet political cunning and deception on the international scene are designed to confuse and distract us. Nothing could serve their purposes more than to have us lose sight of the primary threat and embark on military programs designed to provide a little bit of everything and not enough of what we need.
The tasks facing our country and its military forces are vast, but not unsurmountable. Briefly, the Air Force is charged with the employment of military airpower in the national interest. During these years of ever-growing threat, the Air Force has been concentrating on its business. As a result, I can say that the Air Force can do its job today, in all its variations – and there are many variations. We have to maintain a strong, dynamic force in being. We must continually keep the force modern and in line with the latest technical advances. And we must devote time, effort, and resources toward research of weapon systems for the distant future. To do all these things with the proper amount of emphasis is the real problem. The Air Force, of all the services, must be ready today and every day on into the future.
Russian successes with the Sputniks and their great progress in the ballistic missile field added a new sense of urgency to the job that the Air Force was already doing. Russian successes did not, in themselves, comprise and entirely new threat, but they did require us to reevaluate our force structure, our plans, and our programs.
Out of this evaluation, several things became apparent at the outset. First, the missile threat did not invalidate our bomber strike force. For a long time to come, this force with its great range, its capacity to carry nuclear weapons of various sizes and yields, and its improved electronic countermeasures, could still perform the job it was designed to do. Furthermore, because of the human intelligence factor aboard, the bomber, strike force has the added advantages of a recall capability and greater flexibility in target selection and tactics. The proximity of the missile threat did, however, put a premium on expediting security measures for this strike force.
A primary security measure is warning. Study of our warning and control system for use against the air breathing threat showed us that it was in reasonable good shape and that we were well on our way to its modernization through development of the SAGE, semi-automatic ground environment, system. Quite obviously, however, we had new and urgent requirement to develop a ballistic missile early-warning system. A breakthrough in radar techniques made in the summer of 1957, prior to Sputnik, showed us that the job could be one – but would take time and money. Furthermore, even with such a system installed, the best warning we would get of a hypersonic ballistic missile attack would be on the order of about fifteen minutes.
We had already initiated an alert and dispersal program for our strategic strike force, and funds were appropriated by Congress for this purpose in fiscal year 1957. Additional funds were appropriated in fiscal year 1958, and we planned additional requests in succeeding years to complete the program. Eventually, we want sufficient facilities for our strategic strike force so that not more than one for our strategic strike force so that not more than one B-52 squadron – fifteen aircraft with its associated tankers – nor more than one B-47 wing – forty-five aircraft with its tankers – will be on any one base. In addition, we have programmed construction of alert facilities such as housing for crews, parking stubs, and additional taxiways so that our aircraft can get off the ground faster. Here again, the proximity of the ballistic missile threat added urgency to the programs.
In addition to expediting a ballistic missile early – warning system and an improved alert and dispersal posture, another obvious measure was to press forward on our own missile programs – both for the offensive and for the defensive. Other less obvious, but nevertheless important, areas were the necessity for better command and control systems and an even more urgent need to fill the longstanding requirement to find the necessary ways and means to retain needed skills and experience in the military service.
During this last year, positive action was taken on several fronts, which did a great deal toward expediting the measures, I have outlined. For example, early this year the President submitted to the Congress a supplemental appropriation request to the fiscal year 1958 budget. The Air Force portion was for $910 million and was designed primarily to do three things: First, expedite our SAC alert and dispersal program; second, accelerated our IRBM and ICBM programs; and third, hasten the construction of ballistic missile detection facilities and the SAGE system. As a result of prompt congressional action, all of these programs have been expedited, and we have gained from six to twelve months on the construction of certain facilities.
The new military pay scale is already proving of value – in better retention rates in all categories of Air Force personnel. However, it does not answer the whole problem. For example, the Air Force is still faced with a very serious housing shortage. It is my earnest hope that relief in this area will be forthcoming in future appropriations for this purpose. I feel sure that the increased cost of the new military pay bill and other funds expended to make an Air Force career more attractive will be amortized many times over in the years to come through increased efficiency, lower training requirements, and less aircraft and equipment attrition.
Another important item of legislation, which profoundly affects the efficiency, and effectiveness of the military services was passage of the Defense Department Reorganization Act. As you know, the Air Force is enthusiastic about the reorganization – and for good reason. The air Force has long recognized the necessity for centralized control of far-flung resources to assure maximum mission performance. As a result of the reorganization, I am confident that the capabilities of our over-all military force structure will be greatly improve. For example, the combatant unified and specified commander, under the new act, have clear lines of command established, which flow directly from the top. Force structures will be recommended by the Joint Chiefs, approved by the Secretary of Defense, and those forces once assigned to the commands cannot be withdrawn by the services without approval of the Secretary of Defense. Another material feature of the reorganization is the new organization of the Joint Staff. It will be a fully integrated staff larger in size than before – 400 officers instead of 210 officers – and each military department will have approximately equal representation. The Joint Staff will function under the supervision of a Director who is responsible to the Chairman and the Joint Chiefs for its operation. Participation in joint planning by those Air Force officers assigned to the Joint Staff will have a much greater impact on future Air Force activities than has been true in the past. This is particularly true with regard to the impact on those forces, which will be assigned to the combatant unified and specified commands. You may be sure we are assigning some of our very best officers to the Joint Staff.
In general, I feel the Air Force, during this last year, has made great strides in attaining a higher state of readiness and a better and more effective reaction capability. Our ZI and overseas commands have substantial portions of their forces on constant alert. Our air and ground crews are highly skilled and well trained. We have not yet reached the optimum in this respect, but our combat and support units represent a formidable force. Let’s take a look at our offensive striking forces. The Strategic Air Command, today, posses substantial numbers of B-47 and B-52 jet bombers. The few remaining B-36s will be phased out of the operational inventory next year. Operational testing of the B-8, the world’s first supersonic bomber, is under way. Our tanker force and our air-to-air refueling capability are being continually improved as KC-135 jet tankers roll off the production line. More effective electronic countermeasures are being introduces into our forces, and various decoy devices are far along in the development stage. The great majority of our tactical fighters are of the supersonic Century series, and all are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. TAC’s air-to-air refueling capability adds to its ability to deploy quickly and effectively. The Mace, an improved Matador air-breathing surface-to-surface missile, will be in the hands of our tactical forces next year. Our tactical airlift capability is also being modernized as we continue to convert from c-119s to C-130s. We demonstrated a new facet of mobility and airlift versatility recently by flying F-104s in C-124 transports to Formosa.
Now let’s take a look at our defensive forces. The main portion of our distant early-warning (DEW) line was complete a year ago. The Aleutian and eastern extensions to this line are under construction. This network in combination with our North American radar systems, airborne early-warning and control aircraft, and picket ships provide an excellent warning and control system for defense against jet aircraft. Over all, I would estimate that the system is already ninety percent complete, and it continues to be modernized and improved. In this respect, I would like to point out that two of the SAGE units are already in operation. Completion of the SAGE system will give us a much better capability for controlling the air battle. Whereas before, air defense was generally decentralized, SAGE will centralize may air defense functions. Its design follows the basic principle that defense effectiveness is measured by the combination of air weapons and ground control and not by each alone. The SAGE system will permit us to meet the combined manned jet aircraft and air-breathing missile threat as one concise problem rather than as a series of varied as one concise problem rather than as a series of varied problems. The end result is that SAGE will make the fundamental concept of a coordinated air battle and a defense in depth a practical reality.
There has been discussion in some quarters to the effect that SAGE is already obsolescent because of the hypersonic ballistic missile threat. I do not concur. It is true that SAGE will not be able to track, record, and control attacks against hypersonic ballistic missiles. As yet there is no active defense available for use against such weapons. But we do have effective defense weapons against the manned jet bomber and air-breathing missile threat, which without a doubt, is the biggest threat that faces us today and for the next few years. Even on into the future, SAGE will prove valuable because the forces of the future will undoubtedly be mixed forces – that is, composed of various types of weapons – subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic. SAGE can track and control attacks against both the subsonic and supersonic weapons.
More and more of the Century series fighter-interceptors are being accepted into the inventory. Our interceptor force is armed with air-to-air missiles, including rockets armed with nuclear warheads. In addition, all of our interceptors and the long-range. Bomarc surface-to-air missiles are responsive to the SAGE system.
As far as coordinated defense effort is concerned, our close working relationship with our friendly neighbors to the north takes us a long way toward the Air Force’s goal of a defense in depth. In this respect, I cannot mention Canadian cooperation without specifically calling attention to the excellent teamwork that exists between the RCAF and the USAF and between the Canadian and American aviation industries. This combined dedication of effort is to our mutual advantage.
So far I have been giving you the facts on out forces of today – what we have available – what they can do. Now let’s talk for a moment about missiles. I am inclined to think that some people are unduly cynical concerning to think that some people are unduly cynical concerning the achievements the United States has made. Let’s take a look at the Air Force strategic missile program. In the intermediate range we have the Air Force Thor and the Army-developed Jupiter. Both of these missiles have had very successful test firings. When you consider that there are literally thousands of parts in a missile, each of which must be in faultless working order to achieve a perfect firing, we have an excellent batting average. We must do better, but our failures should be recognized as steps on the road to greater success.
Our recent failure to fire the Atlas its fully designed range was a great disappointment. However, in our long-range intercontinental ballistic missile program, we have achieved over-all excellent test performance. The last two accuracy well within the design specifications. In other tests closely associated with the Atlas program, the Air Force Thor-Able project successfully fired an ICBM nose cone into a predicted target area 5,200 miles distant. This, incidentally, is a greater range than has been fired by any other country as far as we know.
The Titan, which is more sophisticated than the Atlas, is also coming along well in the development program.
The Minuteman, a land-based, solid propellant intercontinental ballistic missile, is also under development. It will be smaller in size and lighter in weight than the Atlas and Titan ICBMs. It will be easier to disperse and it will have faster reaction time because of the nature of the solid propellant. With such characteristics, you can see why we are extremely enthusiastic about this system.
In the field of air defense, as you know, the Air Force has been developing a long-range, surface-to-air missile called the Bomarc. This missile can carry an atomic warhead, and has a range in the early model of about 200 miles. The later model will have a range of about 400 miles. We have successfully fired this missile on numerous occasions. Recently, its capabilities in conjunction with the SAGE system were rather dramatically demonstrated when SAGE computers in New York produced the data and directed a successful attack by a Bomarc fired from Cape Canaveral, Fla., against a drone flying far out to sea. This test also demonstrated how an adjoining SAGE unit would function should the SAGE unit in the area under attack become inoperative.
There is another category of extremely significant missiles. I am talking about the air-to-surface field – those missiles that will be launched by manned aircraft. One of the developments we are working on and which is a logical successor to the pioneering Rascal, is the more advanced Hound Dog to be carried by the B-52s. We feel that there is a tremendous potential in such weapons. For example, they will provide the aircraft with greater flexibility in tactics and permit warheads to be launched from hundreds of miles outside heavily defended target areas. Employment of such weapons aboard long-range bombers also would permit a constant airborne patrol over the seas or friendly territory with a capability to moment’s notice. Furthermore, this attack could be launched from totally unpredictable positions.
I want to say a word or two about the future.
Our forces of the future will require both manned and unmanned systems to perform our mission. Our objective is to build a force with a close working relationship between the manned and unmanned system – thus exploiting the best features of both systems to increase the rate of application of firepower.
What the Air Force has already accomplished in its ballistic missile effort, the X-15, and the Dyna-Soar project, form a good base for the military space projects of the future. I want to point out that Air Force efforts, experience, and capabilities in research on space operations are being oriented entirely toward development of military capabilities, which will assure that we can extend our air superiority into space. We recognize that the Air Force mission in space is solely a military mission – one which requires us to develop and produce militarily useful vehicles. However, Air Force experience and capabilities will always stand ready to assist in other fields.
Daily Report: The day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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