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Wright-Pat. continued

in Washington, but most of its people are here. These people make up the Systems Engineering Group, the Air Force Aero Propulsion Laboratory, the Air Force Avionics Laboratory, the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory and the Air Force Materials Laboratory.

Their main objective is to make a better airplane through research breakthrough. Part of RTD's job is to act as a consultant to the systems men of ASD.

After ASD settles on the final specifications a company is picked to build the airplane. When the weapon system is operational, another organization with headquarters at Wright-Patterson--the Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC)--takes over.

AFLC basically is the Air Force's provisioner, managing a financial program totaling nearly $6 billion yearly. Someone once remarked that an army travels on its stomach. The Air Force is no different. It is up to AFLC to see that everything needed to keep the airplanes in flying condition is anticipated including enough spare parts, fuel and ammunition to fulfill its mission.

Thus, AFLC's role looms larger if U.S. fighters are to be effective in driving off the Viet Cong attackers surrounding an American ground force. If the airplanes are able to get off the ground in response to the call for a strike, then AFLC is doing its job. If the pilots have enough bombs, rockets and fuel to perform their missions, it is because of AFLC's planning and attention to all details involved in buying, stocking, shipping, and delivering the material where it is needed. 

Dull and unglamorous as logistics can appear to the outsider, it is rapidly becoming a science calling for considerable imagination. And, the war in Vietnam is an excellent example.

The battlefield is some 10,000 miles from Dayton. But the head directing the many hands that keep the bomb racks filled is doing an unexcelled job.

Instead of maintaining extensive supply depots in the combat zone, AFLC stores supplies in the continental United States. It is doing this effectively through the use of computers, communications and cargo planes. The computers keep track of everyone's location. When a request comes in through the highest speed communications network, the computer locates the item. It is then directed to the nearest of several U.S. bases from which planes fly directly to Vietnam.

Frequently, AFLC and ASD work together on ways to improve a current airplane. If, for example, landing gears in F-100 fighters began to show cracks in supporting struts due to hard use in Vietnam, ASD would be asked to determine a "fix." In the course of the review, ASD might consult with RTD's Material Laboratory as other specialists.

Once the "fix" is designed, AFLC will try to make its installation in aircraft as simple and expeditious as possible. Ideally, it will become part of a kit that mechanics use right at the combat base. 

The chain of Wright-Patterson involvement could get longer in the Vietnam War in more frequent movement of surface-to-air missiles against our aircraft. If this should develop, a base outfit that tends to shun publicity, the Foreign Technology Division (FTD), conceivably would enter the picture and probably has already.

FTD will pinpoint any weaknesses in the missile system that our aircraft can exploit. It might emphasize need for a certain type of weapon to knock out the missile sites or result in altered tactics by strike plane.

Assuming such a weapon is still in the development stages, ASD will attempt to accelerate the project and finalize the design quickly. Once the production contract is awarded, AFLC will pick up the responsibility for it from that point while ASD continues to watch for technical problems undetected during testing. 
 
This goes on daily as part of Wright Field's commitment to the Vietnam War. Consuming time, attention and brainpower are the needs of the forces not now in combat but those ready in the wings should they be needed. 

A prime example is the Strategic Air Command with its fleet of about 1,000 jet bombers and several hundred tankers. A small number is getting large headlines from operations out of Guam striking Vietnam. The great bulk remain in the U.S. Half are  on alert constantly--around the clock, seven days a week.

Their crew waits for the big war (they hope will not come) and fly these planes on training missions similar to ones if the U.S. were subjected to a nuclear attack. Daytonians hear the roar of these B-52 and KC-135 jets from Patterson Field as they fly across the city on missions every day. 

The planes, particularly the B-52's, are beginning to show the strain of age and hard flying. Several millions have been spent on keeping them in condition

continued on page 40

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