Episode 4 – Stealth, Speed, Precision and Persistence: The Keys to the Aerospace Advantage

Episode Summary

Join 17th Air Force Chief of Staff Gen John Jumper (ret) and Mitchell Institute Dean Lt Gen Dave Deptula (ret) to explore how the Air Force can secure maximum value for every dollar it invests. In conversations with Aerospace Nation host Lt Col John Baum (ret), these seasoned leaders explore the intersection between technology, concepts of operation, and a continual quest to pursue smart solutions, not just pure mass. A central part of the conversation focuses on cost-per-effect analysis and covers a wide range of air operations—from the skies over Vietnam and Desert Storm, to Kosovo and Afghanistan. These leaders also explore key investment areas that should be prioritized to best address tomorrow’s challenges.

Full Topic Guide

In Episode 4, host John Baum dives into how to best maximize defense investment decisions through cost-per-effect analysis Baum and Mitchell Institute’s Executive Director Doug Birkey provide concrete examples regarding how this thinking works.

Baum and Birkey then welcome 17th Air Force Chief of Staff Gen John Jumper, UASF, (ret.) onto the show to provide his firsthand experience of seeing technologies aligned with cost-per-effect principles in action during the Vietnam War. He then tells how this experience changed his calculus moving forward as he returned stateside as he helped shape Air Force modernization as well as tactical and operational procedures. He details how he pushed for stealth, stand-off munitions,  precision weapons, and systems that had persistence as a way to leverage cost-per-effect advantages. Gen Jumper then describes his vision for future Air Force investment decisions.

 Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (ret.)  then describes how technologies aligned with cost-per-effect thinking were brought to bear in Operation Desert Storm. Stealth and precision created a situation in which 1 F-117 was able to cause the same effect on target as 19 non-stealthy aircraft. He then discusses how politics and short-term objectives undermined further gains the Air Force could have made in this area

The episode wraps with Baum providing an assessment of the discussion and a final comparative example.

Time Marks

02:30 – Doug Birkey, Mitchell Institute’s Executive Director joins the show to define cost-per-effect

07:11 – Slick lays out the example of the Dragon’s Jaw bridge in Vietnam

09:40 – Slick invites Gen John Jumper, USAF, (ret.), onto the show to discuss his experience with cost-per-effect in the Vietnam War

13:00 – Gen Jumper discusses the change of strategic mindset away from overwhelming mass towards cost-per-effect

22:40 – Gen Jumper describes how technology and innovation drives the success of the Air Force

25:09 – Gen Jumper provides his advice to current and future Air Force leaders on how to develop the technologies that best support the US military in the air, space, and cyber domains

27:30 – Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF, (ret.) describes how the development of stealth and precision radically changed the notion of cost-per-effect

30:11 – Lt Gen Deptula lays out the calculus of strike packages in Desert Storm, and how 1 F-117 achieved the same effect as 19 non-stealthy aircraft

36:55 – Slick uses the historical context of WWII bombing campaigns to highlight the radical changes that technology has brought to the effectiveness of air campaigns


Host: Lt Col John “Slick” Baum, USAF, ret.

Producer: Daniel C. Rice

Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey

Guest: Douglas Birkey, Executive Director, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

Guest: Gen John Jumper, USAF, ret.

Guest: Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF, ret.

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