Accession Number:



The SA-2 and Wild Weasel: The Nature of Technological Change in Military Systems

Descriptive Note:

Master's thesis

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



This thesis examines how the US Air Force responded to the first combat firing of the SA-2 surface to air missile over North Vietnam in 1965. That response included the deployment of aircraft specifically designed to jam radars, the production of jamming pods for tactical fighters, borrowing the US Navys anti radiation missile, and the introduction of the unique Wild Weasel aircraft. Together, these technologies represented a nascent form of tactical electronic combat that helped the Air Force to regain control of the air over North Vietnam. Four questions are asked in this study 1 How might a system initially react to a new opposing technology on the battlefield 2 What might make a system choose one set of responses to that technology and not others 3 How might a system change as these technological responses are incorporated within it 4 In what ways might the story of technological change within a system be instructive if it includes the perspectives and actions of the operators - a bottom up approach - and not just those of the high-level decision-makers. This study reaches two general conclusions. First, integrating a new technology into a military system is a vary complex task. Many factors, including national culture and military doctrine, influence a systems flexibility, that is, the ability of a military system to react to change. Second, probably the most important step of integration is ensuring that the technology can be used to its full potential. This is accomplished through adaptation. The operators adapt the technology to the needs of the system through proper training efforts while the system is made to adapt to the technology through development of doctrine. This study reveals the complexity of adaptation through a bottom-up look at the Wild Weasel I test program.

Subject Categories:

  • Antimissile Defense Systems
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Surface-Launched Guided Missiles
  • Radio Countermeasures

Distribution Statement: