Thinking Airpower in Context: American War in Seven Charts

Blown Slick Series #9

Rough Riders

 Seven Charts That Help Explain American War

  1. How Many Years In Its History Has America Been at War?
  2. Where Has America Fought?
  3. Why Has America Fought?
  4. How Does America Fight ?
  5. Who Are America’s Formal Defense Partners?
  6. Why Is the American Military So Attracted to Technology?
  7. So How Much Does It All Cost?

Give the focus of the Blown Slick series, upon reading this article by Aaron Bazin*, it seemed only natural to question what then is the impact of airpower on these seven and how is airpower influenced by how we approach the issues? In a concise way, the issues and charts highlight airpower usage in war and need to be one piece of Blown Slick’s airpower mosaic. Below are quotes from only two of the questions/charts. I will leave it to the reader to explore the  complete article here. Continue reading

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Airpower, Elephants and Such (Part 3)

Blown Slick Series #8 (Part 3/3)

Continuing from Part 1 & 2 – the “something new”

Airpower Application and 5th Generation Aircraft


The term “fifth-generation aircraft” is part of the problem facing the future of airpower. The usage of the term might suggest a linear relationship to preceding aircraft, so that one could argue that F-18s and F-16s can be upgraded and become 4.8-generation aircraft, closely replicating 5th generation capability. For the proponents of F-22 and F-35, they believe this is simply not the case.  For them, the fifth-generation aircraft are a benchmark for a new approach to air power, and leads to the thought by some that 5th generation aircraft will result in “Re-norming” of Air Operations. This will be the subject of a separate post, but for now from Re-Norming Air Operations: Continue reading

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Airpower, Elephants and Such (Part 2)

Blown Slick Series #8 (Part 2/3)

Continuing from Part 1 – drilling down

Airpower threads

To make reasonable decisions in regard to analysis of future airpower, and also how implementation of emerging technical and derivative tactical concepts plays into the application of airpower, one must certainly have some understanding of these elements:

  • current potential crisis and warfare environments (subjects of future articles)
  • overall theories of airpower (some discussion in this series)
  • necessity for a truly joint, even integrated, approach to warfare that has been provided through experience (to be discussed in future articles but can be particularly seen in the AirSea Battle concept and in regard to potential problems related to operations in the South China Sea)

Historical context also must guide airpower’s future evaluation and application.  Quoting from Part 1:

Airpower is all about power projection and mobility. It is the theoretical and eventual conceptual application that comprises the application of military strategy and strategic theory to the realm of actual aerial warfare via strike warfare tactics, techniques and procedures.  

And so our background on airpower moves to the historical context of airpower application in regard to power projection, and strike warfare.

Application of Airpower (Something Old) Continue reading

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Airpower, Elephants, Fallacies, Bonfires, Something Old, Something New

Blown Slick Series #8 (Part 1/3)

Airpower characteristics itemizes strictly enduring physical features:
speed, reach, height, and as a consequence ubiquity, agility, and concentration.

KKong Empire St Attack

A relatively high technological focus by air forces is inevitable, necessary, and indeed desirable. But the balance is wrong if that focus translates in practice into an air force that bears some resemblance to a costly and exclusive combination flying club and science and engineering society at the expense of what should be the dominant features of a fighting force… Colin Gray

What follows is a perspective of airpower in light  of its history, current application and future trends and potential. The discussion is not focused on airpower theory per se, nor is it anywhere close to being comprehensive. In 3 parts, it is intended to be viewed in context of previous and future articles as offering some pieces of the  mosaic.


Continue reading

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Users’ Guide Part 2 – Tools

Blown Slick Series #7 (Part 2)


… We will use this scheme of pulling things apart (analysis) and putting them back together (synthesis) in new combinations to find how apparently unrelated ideas and actions can be related to one another.     Boyd

Part 1 provided an introduction to the Blown Slick analysis process and the boundary conditions and related operational threads as airpower’s past and future are perceived.  Throughout the time since airplanes were first employed in warfare, there have been many rules/assumptions/lessons learned, some good, others proven outright wrong, and some still staking their ground. Here in Part 2 the concepts of intersections, triangle perspective, and snowmobiles are introduced. Their application in a manner in which the elements are combined and contrasted with past elements and with those potentially significant as the result of emerging technology will hopefully assist in gaining usable perspective for future airpower. Continue reading

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Users’ Guide for Building A Blown Slick “Snowmobile”

Blown Slick Series #7 (Part 1)

To discern what is going on we must interact in a variety of ways with our environment. In other words We must be able to examine the world from a number of perspectives so that we can generate mental images or impressions that correspond to that world. More to the point We will use this scheme of pulling things apart (analysis) and putting them back together (synthesis) in new combinations to find how apparently unrelated ideas and actions can be related to one another.   John Boyd


Proposed theories and historical use of airpower  are discussed in detail in many excellent books, PhD theses, and blogs covering air warfare, its organizations, people, technology, and operations. In the previous post in this series selected key references were provided that are currently in use for Blown Slick – Light Attack Fast Pursuit Airpower Analysis.

This series, as noted in previous offerings, intends to  provide and discuss elements that appear to have significance for understanding and future application of airpower in a mosaic style . The metric of the series success will depend on not only the what and the how of the analysis, but also most importantly on how critical aspects are pieced back together to offer a future view for consideration and critique.

Given that the mosaic approach will most certainly jump around, here in this piece,  I am providing short descriptions of the mental and organizational  tools I’m using -sometimes in combination – for not only gaining perspective on future airpower, but also for how I offer the information to Remembered Sky readers for their own consideration. The following (in two parts) is both a guide and a reference, certainly for me to stay focused and hopefully for readers to comprehend why certain elements are discussed in a particular manner. Continue reading

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“It’s Only Reading If You Do It”

Blown Slick Series #6

It is a true statement but not an indictment, that the fleets of the world never had a formal requirement for an airplane, or a submarine, or a communications satellite. Instead, in all cases, a debate was established within the fleet (indeed, within the fleets of the world) and over time, doctrine, technology, people, and organization came to fruition.


Requirements cannot be divorced from detailed understanding of their implementing strategy. In practice, the best requirements come from operators who understand technology in detail and who can, in their mind’s eye, envision the new tactics it makes possible.
Vice Admiral Jerry O. Tuttle

Googling “airpower” will get you nearly 41,600,000 links and Amazon Books near 2000 entries. So prior to getting into more specific topics, this post offers for reader consideration a small handful of books and studies covering multiple aspects of airpower and war in the air that I have found of great interest and use, and indeed to certain different degrees, are references for future articles. Continue reading

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The 4th of June – Remembered Sky Day

Blown Slick Series#5

The A-7 Corsair II carried a healthy fuel load for a carrier based strike aircraft.  On major strikes – those to significant, highly defended targets – into North Vietnam called “Alpha Strikes” with 30 -40  A-7,s, A-6’s, F-4’s, bombers, fighters, Iron-Hand MiG Cap, tankers, Electronic Warfare birds and an E-2 control – the A-7’s mostly took off first, landed last. The strike group launched and rendezvoused in a circle above the USS Midway before heading into as we non-PC called it, Indian Country. It took a bit and once


joined on my flight lead, it was both a time of anticipation and building tension, and additionally, a somewhat relaxed reflection period of just waiting. You can take this as gospel or not, but over several dozens of these Alphas in an 11 month cruise, I don’t think I ever did not think and wonder about Pat Patterson in his Dauntless and all those guys doing the same thing – looking out over the partially cloud covered Pacific Ocean – on the 4th of June, 1942 as they launched from Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown on their way to the most significant naval battle of World War II.


And so today -4 June 2015 – for me “officially” becomes the first remembered sky day. Continue reading

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Memorial Day 2015: Mondo and Arlo

midway a6

Sometimes on days like today, I find myself lost in the abstract -service to country, freedom, sacrifice, the flags, the tombstones of Arlington. The feelings are not wrong, indeed they are most important and necessary, but at the base are people who laughed, cried, drank beer – sometimes too much – told dirty jokes, howled at the moon, chased women, and jousted at a few dragons, all the while loving their wives, kids, dogs, squadron mates, …. and their country.

The video below was just published on You-Tube on 14 May. It provides the memorial service on USS Midway in San Diego Harbor for Mike “Mondo” McCormick and Alan “Arlo” Clark. Their names were added under the cockpit of the VA-115 A-6 on Midway’s flight deck. Mondo and Arlo were shot down over North Vietnam on the tenth of January, 1973 and were the last A-6 crew lost in the war.

While some may find the video long at a little over an hour, it is very well edited and  reflects not only the memory of loss and sadness, but also the joy of squadron aviation and love of family and friends. Great job by former VA-115 aviator John Stubbs.

Worth your time and for me, perfect tone for Memorial Day.

Those who came home will never forget those who could not.

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BLOWN SLICK – Light Attack Fast Pursuit; Airpower Analysis by Boris

Blown Slick Series#4

Light Attack Fast Pursuit2

“… it has been decades since the last significant contribution to airpower theory. Given the shifting character of war and rapid technological change, a solid modern airpower theory will be required for the West to achieve strategic success in future conflicts.”

Reviewing Airpower Reborn;The Strategic Concepts of John Warden and John Boyd  by JP ‘Spear’ Mintz

Out of the process of reading, researching, communicating with old airwing friends, and in addition reaching out for the Air Force side – leveraging the “Rats” of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, plus all the while observing the more recent past of airpower use in Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, etc., the emergent anti-access/area denial threat particularly in the South China Sea, and the on going issues with the F-35 and the apparent end to the A-10, I began formulation of a next series for the site.  This  is the back story to discussion of the evolution of fighter, attack, and strike warfare – Blown Slick-Light Attack Fast Pursuit Airpower Analysis – the series.

Continue reading

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