Air University Review, January-February 1969

 The AFSC Laboratories:
Technology Today For Tomorrow's Capabilities

Brigadier General Raymond A. Gilbert

The confluence of the intercontinental manned bomber and the atomic bomb in the mid-1940s was a major factor in the establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate service. The marriage of two more products of technology, the ballistic missile and the thermonuclear weapon, coupled with a national policy of strategic nuclear deterrence, was an important factor in the growth of the Air Force during the 1950s.

Also during the 1950s the administration adopted the policy of contracting out to the private sector work that it could reasonably perform. This policy was applied to research and development.

In the early 1960s it became apparent that additional effort was needed to provide within the government the necessary competence to specify and evaluate properly the goods and services produced by the private sector. A concerted effort was made, therefore, to enhance greatly the capabilities of the in-house laboratories of the federal government, particularly those in the Department of Defense. Similarly, the ever increasing costs of developing new weapon systems prompted the Department of Defense to establish a general policy that new systems approved for development would be based on technologies that had previously been adequately demonstrated.

Frequently the research, development, and testing required to provide this demonstrated technology for future systems were simply not accomplished because of the pressures of acquiring new systems which were very expensive, urgently needed by the operational commands, and always pushing the technical state of the art.

To provide this greater in-house competence and to insulate some scientists and engineers from the daily pressures of acquiring new systems, the Air Force Systems Command in 1962 established the Research and Technology Division. By the fall of 1963 seven laboratories had been established, and another, the Air Force Armament Laboratory, was added in 1966 after being a detachment since 1964.

One of the original objectives of the Research and Technology Division was to "provide effective Laboratory support to current and future systems." As the competence within the laboratories grew and became recognized, they were called upon more frequently to provide assistance to the systems organizations. By the spring of 1967 the Headquarters Research and Technology Division staff was consolidated with that of Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, eliminating one echelon of review.

On 1 July 1968 the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory became the ninth AFSC laboratory. 1

Today the AFSC laboratories are recognized as a group of competent, dedicated people who are constantly striving to be responsive to the present and future needs of the Air Force. They are involved in a broad spectrum of activities. For example, the laboratories conduct or manage through contracts the bulk of the Air Force exploratory development program and a major portion of the advanced development program, both of which are directed toward establishing a technology base upon which to build future Air Force systems. A broad technology base that can provide the Air Force new capabilities in the future can also provide options for the next generation of systems and the basis for modifying current systems either to upgrade performance or respond to a changing threat.

With the national emphasis in the 1950s on strategic nuclear deterrence, a base for conventional and special air warfare was not fully developed. Nevertheless, the laboratories have responded vigorously to the operational requirements in Southeast Asia.

The laboratories are heavily involved in various development planning activities. They have made particularly valuable contributions to the Category C Mission Analyses conducted jointly by AFSC and the using commands over the past year and a half, to identify existing or potential operational deficiencies or needs.

To insure that new technology is applied to systems problems, the laboratories work closely with the systems acquisition organizations on many aspects of their efforts. For example, they are called upon to help write specifications for new weapon systems, to evaluate the feasibility and validity of contractor proposals, to manage contracts, and even to perform tests and evaluations of some hardware items. They sometimes have complete engineering development and acquisition responsibility for items such as ground-based radars.

The laboratories are frequently called on for expert consultants when a contractor is having difficulty meeting performance specifications because of a technical problem. For instance, AFSC laboratory scientists and engineers working on an Airframe Propulsion Compatibility Group helped to identify deficiencies in the F-111 and made recommendations that resulted in substantial improvement of its performance.

The laboratories sometimes provide advice and guidance to the AFSC test centers and frequently use their facilities to perform tests on items of equipment being developed in-house or under contract to the laboratories.

Scientists and engineers of the laboratories serve on many interservice, interdepartmental, and interagency committees. Because of their recognized expertise outside the Air Force, they are often called upon to manage or execute research and development projects for ARPA, DASA, NASA, FAA, DCA, DIA, and others.

Although the Air Force grew rapidly in the 1950s, the national policy of contracting out research and development did not enhance the growth of Air Force in-house laboratories. Accordingly, today Air Force laboratories comprise approximately half as many people as the laboratories of either the Army or the Navy. Ours have therefore been forced to continue contracting out a large portion of their effort to make most effective use of the limited dollar and manpower resources. In addition to contracts with industry, not-for-profit organizations, and universities, the laboratories have sought the help of many other agencies, working closely with other AFSC and USAF organizations, with their counterparts in the other services, and with the Air Force's Federal Contract Research Centers. The AFSC laboratories have enjoyed a particularly close and rewarding relationship with laboratories of the Office of Aerospace Research.

Air Force Systems Command and Air Force Logistics Command share the mission of equipping the Air Force with the best weapons that modern technology can provide at a reasonable cost. The role of the Air Force laboratories is to create the technology base and make it available, sufficiently well defined and demonstrated that it can be applied when needed to current and future Air Force problems.

Since resources will always be limited, the serious question is which areas of technology should be pushed and how strongly. These decisions must come from a firm understanding of the threat and an appreciation of Air Force operational needs and materiel deficiencies both current and projected. The understanding of the threat comes from a close relationship with the Foreign Technology Division. The appreciation of the operational needs and deficiencies comes from many sources, one of the most fruitful in recent years being the Mission Analysis studies in which the laboratories participated with the development planners' analysis studies. The DOD Five-Year Plan and formal USAF guidance and requirements documents such as USAF planning concepts help provide the broad framework, which is supplemented by advice and counsel from such groups as the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, National Academy of Sciences, and AFSC Board of Visitors.

The laboratories have frequent meetings and almost continual communication with the acquisition organizations of AFSC. The meetings range from daily informal working sessions to formal annual coupling meetings or formal program reviews. Each laboratory has a full-time assistant for systems support, whose sole responsibility is to keep open the lines of communication between the laboratories and the systems acquisition elements in AFSC.

An extremely important source has been discussions with personnel of the operational commands in the field, both in the United States and overseas. On-site discussions in Southeast Asia and continuing discussions with those who have returned from duty there have been most helpful in providing motivation and direction for laboratory involvement in current Air Force problems.

The dialogue with the major operational commands is important also because of the impact technology must have on statements of required operational capabilities. There is a very fine line between asking for too much and asking for too little, but the impact on costs, schedules, and performance can be enormous. Better communication between those responsible for the technology base and those responsible for stating operational capabilities should lead to more credible and realistic statements of requirements.

The laboratories are having a profound effect and influence on the technology that will be available for future generations of Air Force systems through their distribution of technical objective documents, review and monitoring of independent research and development efforts of the contractors, participation in professional societies, evaluation of unsolicited proposals, and specific requests for proposals that are furnished to universities and industry.

Because it is not possible for the laboratories to perform in a meaningful way in a large number of mission analyses simultaneously, some important Air Force problems will simply not be studied by them in the next year or so. To provide a better basis for planning the exploratory and advanced development programs and guiding universities and industry, each of the laboratories has established an internal studies and analyses group that will perform mission analyses and technology applications studies directly related to that laboratory's technical responsibilities and limited to that scope.

There is one major difference between the laboratories and most other organizations within the Air Force. In most jobs, a person is rated on his performance of fairly well defined and circumscribed functions using established procedures. A Strategic Air Command crew earns the "Select Crew" accolade not by improvising or experimenting but by demonstrating an ability to execute standardized operating procedures in an outstanding manner. While much discipline and adherence to set standards and procedures are also essential in research and development, progress in science and technology is simply not achieved by practicing the same experiment over and over. Progress comes not only from developing the ability to perform new functions but also, and of equal importance, from the development and application of new and novel techniques to perform old functions more effectively. Standardized procedures are fundamental to good management, but they can also inhibit creativity.

Because of the many demands on our laboratories, perhaps the most challenging aspect of a laboratory director's job is how to allocate his resources among the many competing requests. For example, how much effort of the laboratory should be devoted to solving problems of the current fleet, providing input to the next generation of systems, or developing the technology that will be required for the generation after the next? How much effort should be devoted to problem-solving versus working on the technology? Should the work be done in-house or on contract? Should the problem-solving effort be pursued on a subsystem or component basis? What is the proper balance between developing and applying technology? What are the respective roles of man and machine and their interactions?

The technology must be well in hand before new systems are approved for development. To provide an adequate demonstration of the technology, particularly as the hardware becomes more complex and more sophisticated, requires time. Doubling or quadrupling the funds available does not insure a commensurate reduction in time. Also, it is generally far less expensive to demonstrate a piece of equipment, an idea, or a concept in an exploratory development program than it is to attempt to force the development of a new technology while trying to maintain production schedules and initial operational capability dates. Technology is sometimes capricious, and the future is always uncertain. In view of the limitations on funds and personnel, it is especially important to select the right problems and apply resources judiciously to those technologies which have the right balance between risk and payoff.

We have come a long way in analytical techniques, but there are many areas where we simply do not have enough experimental data upon which to base analytical techniques or provide high confidence that our analytical techniques are adequate. Our knowledge of turbulence and flow separation, particularly in the transonic region, is still not founded on an adequate theoretical base. We still approach the problem of instabilities in liquidrocket engines on a semiempirical basis. And so it is with many other areas.

There is still a need to build hardware for test and evaluation purposes even though we think we understand the performance of each of the individual components. The amount of money going into the Soviets' research and development program, plus the number of new aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft they have built in the past few years, is ample evidence that they understand this issue very well.

Although the laboratories are manned predominantly by career civilians, who provide a much-needed continuity, many of the exciting ideas and major advances come from our well-educated junior officers, many of whom have master's and Ph.D. degrees. The laboratories provide an excellent training ground for these officers, who later in their careers can be extremely effective in systems program offices or in management positions in ranges, test centers, and laboratories.

Some Past Accomplishments

A description of all the past accomplishments by the AFSC laboratories would fill many volumes, so I have selected only a few of the more representative achievements:

During the past year the laboratories have developed several riot control munitions of the tear gas sort for use in counterinsurgency (COIN) and limited-war situations. To dispense these munitions in large quantities from low altitude, the laboratory was required to develop also a dispenser that would be aerodynamically compatible with high-speed aircraft. On signal from the pilot, one such dispenser releases the munition in clusters, after which a pyrotechnic fuze is ignited. The pyrotechnic causes each of the munitions to skitter over the target area, releasing the agent as it goes, assuring effective coverage.

When the Air Force was faced with a critical deficiency in night interdiction capability in Southeast Asia (SEA), our laboratories came up with the Gunship II prototype development that enabled new night-viewing sensors and fire-control techniques to be integrated into the C-130 aircraft, which has been successfully employed in SEA.

The laboratories have developed in-house a tool that can be used as a gun harmonizer. It consists of a helium-neon laser precisely aligned with the axis of a precision mandrel inserted in the nozzle of the gun. The highly collimated red light from the laser produces a clearly defined spot on a boresight target. The results achieved to date indicate that more accurate and faster alignment can be attained than that possible with the conventional J-I boresight tool.

Laboratory efforts have demonstrated conclusively that a system comprised of a laser illuminator, laser seeker, and flight controls can be combined to provide an accurate terminal guidance system for bombs. Further, tests demonstrated that the Air Force now has a terminal guidance system that will greatly increase bombing accuracy at greater aircraft standoff distances against targets illuminated by lasers used by either a ground or airborne forward air controller.

A quick fix to a critical Air Force problem in Vietnam was researched and successfully developed in-house by the laboratories. Identification, friend or foe (IFF) radar antennae on the F-l00 were failing after about six hours of aircraft operation from acoustical vibration generated by the plane's own cannon fire. Laboratory scientists developed a small, low-cost, easily attachable prototype viscoelastic damper as a quick fix. Field evaluation of the damper in Vietnam showed a twelvefold increase in the life of the radar antennae. A sufficient number of dampers manufactured in-house by laboratory personnel were shipped to completely equip the F-100 fleet in Vietnam.

The laboratories have done excellent work in the interpretation and processing of raw reconnaissance data. In Project Compass Eagle, a reconnaissance data-processing facility has been established in Southeast Asia which has made possible the introduction of the latest techniques, devices, and procedures directly into the theater of operations. Laboratory personnel have personally participated in this overseas extension of their work.

TALAR IV, a man-portable military landing system, provides more precise guidance than the instrument landing system (ILS). It can also be used to provide accurate guidance for weapon delivery. Headquarters USAF has recommended TALAR IV to fulfill a Southeast Asia requirement.

The laboratories have developed an automatic homing parachute system that can be controlled from the drop aircraft or from the ground or can home automatically on a ground beacon. In demonstrations in the Bavarian Alps, miss distances of 45 feet from the beacon were consistently achieved. In Vietnam, it will provide an offset release capability such that the drop aircraft is not exposed to small-arms fire. Inherent in the steerable parachute concept is the almost limitless size of the payload, which can range from small emergency supplies of war through heavy earth-moving equipment, trucks, artillery, nose cones, and satellites.

Fuel tanks of the B-52 aircraft were found to suffer from biological corrosion in which microorganisms attacked both the sealants and the substrate metal. The laboratories developed sealing materials as well as top coatings that were resistant to this kind of corrosive action. These top coats and sealing materials protected both the sealant and metal from the biological corrosion and thereby decreased the downtime and maintenance requirements of the aircraft.

A significant materials development was a glass fiber that has 40 percent higher tensile strength and 200F greater temperature capability than the best previously available fiber.  This material went from completed research to production of filament-wound plastic rocket motor cases for Minuteman and Polaris missiles in less than one year. The resulting decrease in structural weight in the Minuteman permitted a 15 percent increase in payload.

To provide high-temperature deceleration devices for Air Force aerospace systems, the laboratories have pursued a program for the development of metallic fibers suitable for weaving. This program has been highly successful, and a multifilament yarn has been woven into an extremely flexible and strong metal fabric resistant to elevated temperatures. This material is now being used in the fabrication of experimental hypersonic decelerators. The fabric was also found suitable for use as a coverall to a space suit, to provide thermal protection for astronauts during space walks. The coverall was successfully used for the first time during the Gemini IX orbital mission.

A remote laboratory detachment has developed techniques for improved imaging of orbiting objects in space, using a 48-inch telescope and a variety of imaging sensors. This was of great service in investigating and analyzing problems that developed on the Apollo mission of 4 April 1968. Malfunctions in the early rocket stages caused mechanical damage that resulted in the third stage's being left in earth orbit. It could not be determined if the payload had been ejected properly or if this too had malfunctioned. Motion-picture imagery taken at the detachment was used to establish that the payload had been ejected. It also confirmed the tumbling rate of the third stage, which had been tentatively established from other data.

A solid rocket capable of multiple start, stop, and restart has been demonstrated. The concept is called the "dual chamber" and consists of a solid-propellant gas generator, which is in constant operation, an on-off valve, and a rocket motor. The addition of flow from the gas generator to the motor provides ignition and sustains combustion. If the gas generator flow is stopped, the motor chamber pressure drops below that required to sustain combustion.

As a direct result of our laboratory pioneering effort, major progress has been made in reducing the cost of moderate-performance aircraft inertial navigation systems. With the establishment of a "Low Cost Laboratory Detachment" at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, in 1964, an in-house capacity to design and develop a low-cost inertial system of moderate performance was initiated. Today, four years later, such a system has been developed in house. Air Force interest has sparked industry, which in turn is making significant progress in cost reduction.

A lightweight one-kilowatt power amplifier has recently been developed for application to tactical troposcatter radio sets. The amplifier weighs 80 pounds and has a volume of 1.5 cubic feet and a power output of one kilowatt; current field equipment performing the same function weighs 600 pounds and has a volume of 8 cubic feet.

To minimize the data-reduction tasks involved in the production of maps and charts, an automatic stereocomparator has been developed for operational use. Precision optics provide the operator with a clear view of the image areas, permitting him to superimpose similar image points of any two of three photos to a very high level of accuracy. When this has been accomplished, the operator initiates a measurement and coordinate readout wherein the photo coordinates of each image are recorded to accuracies of two-millionths of a meter. The automatic readout process is accomplished with a general-purpose computer and electronic image-correlation equipment.

A new concept for an oxygen supply system which concentrates oxygen from air is being exploited by the laboratories for use in fighter aircraft. Feasibility has been established for this unique device, in which a highly reliable static electrolytic cell produces 100 percent pure breathing oxygen. It uses 500 watts of power to supply two men. Major advantages of its use stem from the elimination of the present extensive ground support associated with the manufacture, storage, transportation, and servicing of liquid oxygen (LOX).

The laboratories successfully completed a program to demonstrate a flight-weight hybrid propulsion system for use in the Sandpiper target missile. This propulsion system is less expensive and provides for a greater operational envelope than the current Sandpiper propulsion system. The hybrid propulsion system used a liquid oxidizer and a solid fuel. Its thrust can be varied between 550 pounds and 60 pounds, and its burn duration is up to 7 minutes. Three flights were made with the Sandpiper having the hybrid propulsion system, and all three were successful.

The laboratories have developed a technique to simulate the airblast environment of a nuclear burst. This technique utilizes highexplosive detonating cord confined within a cavity to generate a shock wave and a resulting overpressure. They have simulated the air-induced ground motions in soil at the l000-psi overpressure level of a 10-megaton burst.

Some Current Areas of Interest

"Higher and faster" has long been an Air Force goal, and indeed research is being carried on in the supersonic and hypersonic regimes. Specifically, major efforts are being devoted to better high-temperature, high-strength materials; new and novel structures and aerodynamic shapes; better control systems; and efficient propulsion systems. The requirement to operate at the extremes of the speed/altitude spectrum necessitates that the pilot be provided with a vehicle that is stable and controllable. This may require the complete replacement of the present complex mechanical control system by an electronic self-organizing control system invulnerable to all but the most severe battle damage. A particularly challenging problem is the development of an efficient, economical propulsion system that can cover the entire speed regime from takeoff through hypersonic flight. Such future propulsion systems may be combinations of turbojets, ramjets, and rocket propulsion. A better understanding of the lift and drag characteristics of present airfoils and lifting-body designs over this same speed regime is also needed for maneuvering re-entry vehicles that can land at a desired prepared base.

An interesting question arises with regard to hypersonic flight of manned vehicles. Have manned spacecraft obviated the necessity for manned hypersonic vehicles? Since the answer to this question is not clear, the laboratories are continuing efforts in both areas.

We need to know much more about how to design supersonic fighter aircraft that can maneuver effectively throughout the entire speed regime. A particular bothersome region is the transonic flight regime. The use of lighterweight materials not only in the primary structure but also in the engine and all the subsystems can substantially improve performance. However, this trend to larger and relatively lighter structures operating in the projected flight environments introduces severe aeroelastic problems. New flight control techniques designed to suppress or control these structural bending modes now offer the aircraft designer a new design freedom. Trade-offs can now be made between structural weight and performance with no degradation in the service life of the aircraft. At the other end of the speed spectrum, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft that also have a high speed capability can provide great gains in flexibility and mobility. New materials appear to hold the key to the high thrust-to-weight-ratio propulsion devices and lightweight structures, but completely new concepts might provide the impetus for major progress in this area, which is also of such great interest to civil aviation officials. In the meantime additional work needs to be performed on high lift devices for short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft. High lift devices can also improve the low-speed characteristics of supersonic aircraft. These high lift devices, if used symmetrically to directly control the flight path of the aircraft, provide much more precise control during weapon delivery and other precision tracking tasks.

The mission-oriented subsystems of future aircraft are becoming even more important. In the reconnaissance and surveillance area, we have made good progress in developing sensors for acquiring the relevant information. The big problem facing the laboratories today is how to analyze and correlate in near real time the tremendous amount of information that can be gathered in a single sortie by a modern highspeed aircraft. A second critical problem is how to present in a short time the essential information to the appropriate decision-makers so that it can be acted upon. While the location and identification of certain fixed targets is important, timeliness is more critical as to moving targets; for example, we want immediate information about trucks or troops moving along a certain roadway, since its value diminishes after a few days or even hours.

The laboratories also are a major contributor to the Air Force quick-reaction capability, which has been developed to meet rapidly changing tactics in electronic warfare.

The cost of a modem fighter or groundattack aircraft dictates that we provide the pilot something better than an iron bomb hung under the wing and a piece of chewing gum on the windshield. The laboratories have programs to make aircraft less vulnerable and to aid the pilot in finding, identifying, and hitting the target. Because the lethal radius of a conventional high-explosive free-fall bomb is small compared to the average miss distance of such a bomb, something dramatic must be done. A number of programs are under way in the laboratories to improve delivery accuracies in day, night, and all-weather conditions. Some of our improved devices are already deployed in Southeast Asia, while others will not be ready for the inventory for some time.

The laboratories are vigorously pursuing new concepts in ammunition and guns for use on future generations of fighters and groundattack aircraft. Weare continuing biological and chemical warfare programs at modest levels, with the emphasis on defensive techniques. Research on new explosives and new techniques for utilizing more effectively the energy of current explosives is also moving ahead despite the large amount of effort going into the development of current munitions and fuzes for Southeast Asia.

The laboratories are pursuing efforts to free aircraft from dependence on hard-surfaced runways and thus greatly increase their usefulness, especially in the logistics and ground support role. These efforts range from an expandable tire, which deflates to low volume when the gear is retracted and inflates to provide high flotation when the gear is lowered, to an air cushion landing gear, which operates on the ground effects principle and permits operation from any reasonably smooth sudace, including mud and water.

The laboratories are developing turbojet, ramjet, and rocket propulsion systems to provide options for a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-sudace missiles. Of particular interest now are the stop-start and throttling capabilities for solid and hybrid (combination liquid and solid) rocket motors. The two propulsion laboratories have joined in a single aggressive program to explore air-augmented rockets (combination of rocket and air-breathing cycle) and ramjets, using the same test vehicle. This concept is extremely important for long-range air-launched missiles that operate in the atmosphere.

In the ballistic missile and space area, the laboratories are working on new propulsion systems (liquid, solid, and hybrid) that have higher specific impulse, improved propellant mass fractions, better restart and throttling capabilities, and lower costs; new guidance systems that are more flexible and more accurate; components and facilities that are less vulnerable to nuclear attack; ground-based and airborne communication terminals that interface with satellites; and others.

In the command, control, and communications area, the laboratories are stressing wide bandwidth digital communications to enable the transmission of large quantities of secure information. An intriguing idea for future development, which evolved out of a mission analysis, is ICNI (integrated communications, navigation, and identification). The laboratories have undertaken to perform the critical "thin thread" experiments to demonstrate the feasibility of such a system. In concept, a single wide-band transmitter/receiver coupled to a computer in an aircraft and to similar compatible ground- and space-based transmitters/ receivers could perform the functions of the electronic black boxes needed in aircraft today for air-to-air and air-to-ground communications, for navigation, and for precision low approaches. It would also provide for identification of friendly aircraft.

Technology-Oriented Efforts

The laboratories are well aware of the capabilities of lasers for ranging devices, test devices, communications channels, etc. Similarly, solid state technology and the new microelectronic technology being made possible by large-scale integrated circuits will be utilized to reduce the size, volume, and power requirements of electronic devices, or to increase reliability through redundancy in the same volume and weight, or to perform many more functions in the same volume and weight.  Microelectronics, coupled with new storage devices, offers some hope of dealing effectively with the data manipulation problem referred to earlier. Preprocessing of the data at the sensor offers some hope of cutting down on the amount of data that has to be handled. Here also microelectronics can play an important role.

Much of the research and development in materials is technology-oriented; boron and carbon filament composite materials and manufacturing methods are excellent examples.

A particularly interesting field is bionics. Scientists are attempting to improve their understanding of biologic sensors and information processes in hopes of applying electronic techniques to obtain similar results.

Because of the large number of components in current electronic equipment, reliability is a matter of major concern, as is the electro-magnetic compatibility of various radars and communications equipment.

Blast effects on re-entry vehicles are being examined under a rocket sled/blast simulation program, an in-house project to develop a technique and facilities for subjecting re-entry vehicles and interceptor missiles to a range of simulated atmospheric and nuclear blast loads.

While improved data-processing techniques are urgently needed for reconnaissance, surveillance, intelligence, and information handling, electronic computers can be used for processing many other kinds of data as well. For this reason, several laboratories are heavily involved in a broadly based data-processing technology program.

Modern large-scale electronic computers are also used for solving scientific problems of data. Computer and laboratory simulation and field testing play a very important role in establishing the feasibility of new techniques and components.

A specific example of successful technology development, which took place over a number of years, is the high-bypass-ratio turbofan engine that is now powering the C-5 aircraft. This advanced turbine engine gas generator program has also provided the technology upon which the engines for the next generation of Air Force aircraft will be based.

The laboratories are also working closely with the Defense Atomic Support Agency to achieve a better understanding of nuclear weapon effects and how to make Air Force systems less vulnerable to nuclear weapons.

The newest laboratory is concerned with personnel requirements, selection, classification, training, and utilization.

In all these areas the laboratories have developed excellent analytical and experimental capabilities, but much remains to be done.

This nation is engaged in a technological war with the U.S.S.R., and the Air Force laboratories are in the very forefront of this struggle. As one Soviet marshal said recently, "The combat power of the armed forces now depends, as it never did in the past, on the achievement of technology . . . . Contemporary science and technology are the broad foundations of all military knowledge . . . . It is not on the battlefields but on the proving grounds and in the laboratories that competition in civilian and military technology is continuing." The achievements of the Air Force laboratories in the past indicate that with continued support they will more than meet this critical challenge.

Hq Air Force Systems Command


Brigadier General Raymond A. Gilbert (M.S., Ohio State University) is Director of Laboratories, Air Force Systems Command. After flying training in 1941, he served in Air Training Command and in research planning during the war. Postwar assignments have been at Air Proving Ground; in USAFE in airline management and intelligence assignments; as nuclear research officer, Air Force Special Weapons Center; theoretical physicist, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory; Chief, Analysis Division, and Director of Research, Special Weapons Center; Deputy Commander, Sciences, AF Office of Scientific Research; DCS/P&O and C/S, Research Division, Air Research and Development Command; CIS, Office of Aerospace Research; military assistant to the Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering, OSD; Commander, Air Force Weapons Laboratory; and Vice Commander, Headquarters Research and Technology Division, Bolling AFB, D.C.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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