The Interaction of Technology and Doctrine in the USAF

by Robert L. Perry

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Drawing on the history of military technology since World War II, the author argues that: (1) new weapons customarily derive from proven technology rather than from efforts to push immature technology in the name of perceived requirements; (2) evolution of postwar USAF doctrine has been driven by expectations about the rate and direction of future weapons development; (3) most postwar difficulties of Air Force R&D and of defining air doctrine are the consequences of deriving doctrine from unrealistic technical expectations. The history of the past 30 years suggests that Air Force doctrinal planners may again find themselves compelled to alter operational concepts, basing options and force structure to be consistent with technologies favored solely because of their apparent cost effectiveness, political attractiveness or availability.

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