F/A-18E/F Super Hornet - USN Workhorse's Genesis and Boeing's Stories from the Deck - 3

Top Gun: Maverick - Birds of Fray

Jul 14 2022 • 2 mins

The Vietnam War spanning 1965-1975 proved to be a litmus test for the USAF as well as USN and their war fighting doctrines which had departed from close combat or dogfighting to stand-off distances led by the advent of air-to-air missiles. However, it proved to be the achilles heel for them while taking on the adversary in aerial encounters over North Vietnamese skies marked by setbacks and glaring hardware capability limitations as well as skill gaps exposed with USAF's kill ratio having deteriorated from 13.5:1 during the Korean War to 1.5:1 in Vietnam. It led to a radical shift and fundamental rethinking in the US defense establishment towards the late 1960s driven by the same fighter pilots who had endured the ordeal, especially, Col. John Boyd who proposed his radical Energy Maneuverability Theory and led the Fighter Mafia. It led to the evolution of next generation of U.S. fighter jets which were designed and developed from scratch based on lessons learnt in the Vietnam War, were custom built for aerial dogfights and were also termed as teen series fighters. They included the F-14 Tomcat, named by Grumman after Admiral Thomas Connolly who personally shepharded the development of the program throughout, as a replacement for the F-4 Phantoms on the Navy's flattops apart from the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon in the 1970s. The F-14 Tomcat, in fact, also flew some sorties during the final phases of the Vietnam War in 1974. The story from F-14 Tomcat to its ultimate successor, the Super Hornet, continues in the next episode...

Audio credits: Boeing                 Episode Image Credits: Pixabay

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