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USAF Pilot Training and the Air War in Vietnam

USAF Pilot Training and the Air War in Vietnam

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 USAF Pilot Training and the Air War in Vietnam
Source:
The Air Force Way of War
Author(s):
Brian D. Laslie
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813160597.003.0001

The first chapter functions as an introduction to the work. It begins by focusing on the role of tactical air power in Vietnam, with particular emphasis on air-to-air engagements. The chapter demonstrates that Tactical Air Command (TAC) failed at the time to recognize that the lack of realistic training prior to deployment directly contributed to loss of aircraft and life during American combat troops’ involvement in Vietnam. Pilots were rushed through training in the United States and had to learn combat skills “on the fly.” Pilots, therefore, entered combat not properly trained and were forced to use overly complicated aircraft not designed for the “turning engagements” that were common against enemy MiG aircraft. Strategic Air Command pilots also suffered during Vietnam, primarily from flying missions into target areas where the high-altitude bombers were simply unable to survive. The U.S. Air Force had not prepared its pilots to dogfight enemy MiGs or to destroy surface-to-air missiles prior to attacking targets.

Keywords:   Vietnam War, Air combat, MiGs, Tactical Air Command, Strategic Air Command

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