Lagging Research and Development

Jan. 1, 1956
I believe the threat of global war and our need to prevent it has not seriously diminished during the last year. This means that we are dependent upon our Air Force’s being unquestionably superior to any other in the world. I believe that to maintain and improve this Air Force requires an adequate research and development budget through which we must bring to bear the best brains and energies we can muster to work on Air Force problems. It is my opinion that up to now we have not received adequate research and development support.

We must continue with undiminished enthusiasm to build a modern force of not less than 137 wings. . . . Perhaps it would be useful to tick off the major accomplishments related to airpower which the Soviet Union has revealed to us during the past year.

First, they have revealed an ever-increasing strength in total airpower.

Second, they have revealed six new types of aircraft which imply six new types of engines, all of an advanced jet or turboprop design. They have revealed these aircraft in quantities which are very substantial and indicative of great production know-how.

Third, they have revealed an airborne radar capability which implies a vast state of the art advancement.

Fourth, their advancement in electronics and radiation fields was corroborated by the quality and quantity of data which they discussed at the Geneva Conference.

Fifth, they have indicated a continuing substantial growth in nuclear weapons capability as revealed by their tests. The most recent test in the current series was in the megaton range.

Sixth, they have indicated during the year an enthusiasm for the development of advanced commercial aircraft, a continuing enthusiasm for the development of guided missiles, and a stated national policy concerning such advanced areas of technology as satellites.

Certainly, there is nothing in this picture which leaves room for complacency since it is clear that the Soviets are leaving no stone unturned to close the gap in this technological race.

Our progress during the past year has also been impressive . . . [in the] build-up and improvement in quality of both the men and the machines involved.

We are moving forward on schedule to our goal of 137 wings by the summer of 1957. We are making appreciable progress in our Century Series of fighter aircraft. The F-100 is in quantity production and operational. We have ordered the F-101 into production. The F-102 is also operational, and we have recently ordered production quantities of the F-104. Other fighter aircraft in the development stage are showing great promise.

The B-52, which Secretary Quarles has described as the most formidable expression of airpower in the world, is going into high-gear production. . . .

Improvements are steadily being made to make the B-57 an ever-more effective tactical bomber, and several wings are now equipped with this aircraft.

Our new B-58 bomber is coming along, and there are others in the works which can make it possible for us to maintain our leadership in strategic and tactical bombing capability.

Our Matador tactical missile has achieved a high degree of reliability during the past year and it is being successfully launched under field conditions by operational units. . . .

We are constantly improving other items in the missiles field—in short-range missiles for our fighters and bombers, supersonic ground-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and others. . . .

Perhaps in emphasizing the urgency of our needs in the area of the global deterrent force, we tend to convey a feeling of lack of enthusiasm and understanding for the other areas in which airpower can be used in advantage. I can assure you that we are bending every effort in the areas of air defense, in tactical aircraft, and in the development of logistic carriers to take advantage of research and development in these areas as well.

As you know, the Air Force has heavily committed itself to the guided missile field. Guided missile technology is assuming an equal place in the Air Force with aircraft technology. We are assigning large sums from our budget to this field and are attempting to place emphasis on guided missile development by assigning man of our finest officer and civilian personnel to this task. To increase our long-range striking power, we have accelerated the development of long-range, high-altitude, high-velocity pilotless aircraft and ballistics missiles. They have a very high priority in our efforts. . . .

I would like to emphasize that missiles and aircraft are clearly complementary devices and only in certain limited areas will the development of an advanced missile eliminate the need for the development of advanced manned aircraft. Accordingly, you and I as taxpayers are faced with a double burden. As we go forward we must not only remain superior through developments in aircraft technology but we must make huge investments in missile technology and facilities.

It is for this reason that those of us in the research and development end of the business are constantly seeking more funds and resources to apply to our problems. I would imagine that most of you have had the experience of arriving at work some morning to find that a competitor has very simply solved the problem which has perplexed you and your staff for months and perhaps years. Occasionally, such a breakthrough can be disastrous to a business; more normally, the business will have time to recover from its effects. In military research and development, we cannot risk the probability that the enemy will make the breakthrough first nor can we hope that we would have time to catch up if he does.

Our job, through your support with funds and energy, is to prevent this from happening. You all know where we’ll be if our Air Force comes off second-best.

Condensed from a speech on December 8, 1955, before the National Security Industrial Association, in Washington, D. C.