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Lesson Index: [ Introduction | Lesson Objective | Overview | Foundations of Doctrine | Air Corps Tactical School | WWII—Europe | WWII—Japan | WWII—Nuclear Weapons | Cold War Doctrine | Massive Retaliation | Cold War Technology | Flexible Response | The SIOP | Korea | Korean Command Structure | Korean War Aftermath | Prelude to Vietnam | Objectives in Vietnam | Vietnam War 1965–1973 | Rolling Thunder—Objectives | Rolling Thunder—Restrictions | Rolling Thunder—Outcome | Command Arrangements | Route Package System | Khe Sanh | Airpower at Khe Sanh | LINEBACKER II | Post-Vietnam Assessment | AirLand Battle | Impact of AirLand Battle | Operation EAGLE CLAW | Operation URGENT FURY | Goldwater-Nichols Act 1986 | Summary | Quiz ]

Title: Cold War Technology

Voice: An additional impediment to the reemergence of sound airpower doctrine during the Cold War was the powerful influence of technology. Funding for new weapons was concentrated in the nuclear realm in support of the national strategy of massive retaliation. The development of the ICBM gave the fledgling Air Force a new mission and role within the defense department. Technology increased the accuracy of nuclear delivery vehicles and allowed the Air Force to use smaller warheads. With smaller warheads, the Air Force could equip a variety of different types of aircraft as nuclear capable bombers. The Air Force’s technical superiority in nuclear weapons compensated for the Soviet superiority in conventional weapons and led to further neglect of conventional airpower doctrine.

Action: Screen begins with the first of the following bullets in upper left of screen, along with a picture an ICBM Atlas. The remaining bullets are shown when mentioned in the narration:

  • Air Force concentrated weapons development in nuclear realm
  • ICBMs added to Air Force’s overall importance within DOD
  • Smaller nuclear bombs turned fighters into nuclear bombers
  • USAF nuclear superiority compensated for Soviet conventional superiority
  • Action: As the third bullet is shown, the picture of the Atlas is replaced by the following quote by the ninth Air Force commander in 1956. A picture of an F100 “Hun” is shown under the quote:

    A single-seat fighter now has the destructive power of thousands of World War II bombers.

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