October 18, 1965 Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
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1965 was the beginning of America's involvement in Vietnam. A mere decade had passed since the end of the Korean War (or "conflict" if you prefer), and the Department of Defense had not done much to modernize the military since then. Unlike with World War II when U.S. factories were turning out military aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles ahead of formal involvement, Congress was not interested in making headlines with news of war machines. When the first U.S. troops were sent in March of that year, things kicked into high gear. Lyndon Johnson was said to have tried to direct the war from the White House, but it was his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, whose actions caused the Vietnam efforts to be nicknamed "McNamara's War." The "Washington Newsletter" feature of this October 1965 issue of Electronics magazine reported on, among other military-related items, the U.S. Air Force's plans to phase out the venerated (now, not then) B-52 Stratofortress bomber by sometime in the 1970s. Well, here it is half a century later and the B-52 is still the primary long range heavy bomber in its inventory. More than 60 of the original 744 built between 1952 and 1962 are flying today (version H). The B1 Lancer bomber (supersonic)was a debacle, and the B2 Spirit bomber (stealth) is way too expensive to deploy in large numbers. The other headline of note was early plans for using satellites to broadcast classroom lectures from universities to remote locations. The few Masters' level electrical engineering courses I took while at General Electric in Utica, New York, in the late 1980s were via satellite from the National Technological University (NTU), based in Boulder, Colorado.
... and on New Attack Aircraft
Decisions on other major weapon systems are also pending. Among them: whether to develop a new strategic bomber and an advanced armed helicopter for the Army, and what airplane to select as a new strike fighter, primarily for use in Vietnam.
McNamara still has reservations about replacing the B-52 with a strategic bomber. If he decides that a strategic bomber should be kept in the Air Force's inventory after the B-52 is phased out in the 1970's, he may turn to the F-111. He appears to like the idea of modifying the F-111 to perform strategic missions; the plane is now under development as a tactical fighter-bomber. If the F-111 is modified for strategic operations the Air Force's hopes for a totally new plane would be dashed.
The Army is eager for McNamara's early approval of a proposal to develop a helicopter designed specifically as an aerial weapons platform; the new model would replace helicopters that were designed for other missions, and to which heavy guns were later added. The Army is evaluating proposals from the Lockheed Aircraft Corp. and the Sikorsky Aircraft division of the United Aircraft Corp. In addition, the Army is considering speeding development of a less-ambitious interim helicopter that uses off-the-shelf avionics rather than an integrated avionics system. If approved, such a craft could be developed quickly for use in Vietnam.
A decision is expected soon on whether to purchase a new strike-fighter to replace the aging propeller-driven Douglas A-1. The leading competitors would be the Northrop Corp.' s F-5, now sold only abroad and the A-7A, which is being developed by Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc.
Posted October 29, 2018