Accession Number:



Innovation in the United States Air Force: Evidence from Six Cases

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Research Report]

Corporate Author:

RAND Corporation

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Developing innovative means to go over not through national strategic challenges has long been central to the Air Forces contribution to American security.1 Recently, however, U.S. Air Force USAF senior leaders have raised the questions of whether the service is sufficiently innovative today and what can be done to make it more innovative for the future. This report assesses six historical cases of Air Force innovation or apparent failure to innovate. These case studies include innovations in strategic reconnaissance 19461972, nuclear survivability19501960, suppression of enemy air defenses 19751985, and precision strategic attack19901999. Cases of apparent failure to innovate include close air support after World War II19461951, early efforts to defeat Soviet integrated air defenses 19601970, and airborne high-value targeting in the postCold War era 19902001.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]