Episode 119 – Air Combat Survivability Imperative: Through a POW’s Experiences

In Episode 119 of the Aerospace Advantage, Air Combat Survivability Imperative: Through a POW’s Experience, John “Slick” Baum, Maj Gen Larry “Stutz” Stutzriem, USAF (Ret.), and Heather “Lucky” Penney interview Lt Col Gene Smith, USAF (Ret.) about what it was like to get shot down in his F-105 over downtown Hanoi on October 25, 1967. This was just one of the 1,737 USAF aircraft lost to hostile action over Vietnam. That number equates to roughly 80% of the Air Force’s fighter inventory today. Members of the Mitchell team also discuss steps the Air Force should consider as it prepares for an increasingly hostile future threat environment and speak to a museum leader who is helping educate future generations about this history. As Smith’s story reminds us, effective airpower demands that aircrew fly into harm’s way, execute their missions, and return to base—and then do it all over again to sustain broader air campaign objectives. If attrition grows too high, then sorties cannot be sustained. These sorts of casualty rates are hard to imagine today given that we’ve become used to combat operations in relatively low threat conditions. Tomorrow’s conflicts promise to be far more lethal.


Host: Lt Col (Ret.) John “Slick” Baum, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

Producer: Shane Thin

Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey

Guest: Maj Gen (Ret.) Larry “Stutz” Stutzriem, Director of Research, The Mitchell Institute

Guest: Heather Penney, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute

Guest: Lt Col (Ret.) Richard “Gene” Smith

Guest: Rob Collings, President, The American Heritage Museum

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