21 May 1966: ANSER and U.S. Military Aircraft
The Air Force–directed shift in Analytic Services studies that occurred in 1965—a shift away from long-range research and development planning and toward more current and near-term analyses—reflected the Air Force’s “new and different interests,” ANSER’s Board of Trustees noted. Tactical fighter aircraft was one such interest, and while the subject itself was not new to the Air Force, the attention to it in 1966 was new—and different—and so it was for ANSER.
“New and different” applied not only to the focus but also the types of studies that ANSER was doing. By 1966, the company’s research consisted of fewer, albeit larger, projects oriented more heavily toward operations analysis and cost-effectiveness solutions to problems in the tactical and requirements areas. As a result, ANSER became less involved in state-of-the-art technology surveys and studies of planning for research and development. The Air Force also began to tap ANSER with “quick response” activities, some of which required as little as one day to answer specific technical questions.
The subject of tactical fighter aircraft populated so many of the Air Force’s technical questions that, by 1966, the majority of ANSER’s manpower was dedicated to the subject. The future of such aircraft, the Board noted in its minutes that year, is “one of the highest priority (and most controversial) subjects in the Air Force today.” When the Air Force requested from several manufacturers proposals for new tactical fighter aircraft designs, the Air Force asked ANSER to develop a measure of effectiveness for evaluating and choosing among the competitive designs. The ANSER analyst presenting a briefing on the subject to the Board that year was accompanied by another analyst presenting a similar briefing, entitled “Introduction to Tactical Air Problems.” The summary for that briefing included the note that “more than one-half of ANSER’s professional manpower is committed to studies of problems in the tactical area.”
The note was both sobering and revealing—revealing in terms of the insight into the company’s relations with the Air Force; sobering because the heavy commitment to one mission area affected the research activities of both individual staff members and ANSER branches. The Board was nevertheless satisfied that the company was being effective in support of the Air Force as well as benefiting from the changes.
This was only the beginning of ANSER’s reach into the fighter aircraft arena. ANSER had been in business for only eight years, but that was eight years of extensive, expert study of various aircraft under their belt, from tactical to strategic aircraft and more. That same year, ANSER logged studies related to the F-111, the B-52, AWACS, the F-X (“Fighter-Experimental,” what was soon to become the F-15), and the A-X (“Attack-Experimental,” what was soon to become the A-10). They also studied several types of vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) aircraft: cargo, transport, and even a tactical fighter version that the United States and Germany were developing jointly. The lens of ANSER’s work was pointed largely at fighter aircraft, but the company’s analytical ties to military aircraft in general had hardly gone out of focus.
The number of others outside of ANSER and the Air Force who were watching all of this—the scope, depth, and impact of ANSER’s work—was growing. Before the end of 1966, the Board noted the increasing number of visitors to ANSER who came to “consult, provide inputs, and review work under way.” One noticeable result of the visitations was a “gratifying broadening of ANSER’s reputation, capabilities, and influence.”