Col. John Boyd
Origins of the OODA Loop
Colonel John Boyd, USAF, left a profound and lasting legacy in the field of Decision Science with the legacy of the OODA Loop or Boyd’s Decision Theory. Boyd observed that, during the Korean War, the United States maintained air supremacy with a victory to loss ratio of 10:1, i.e. one American plane lost for every 10 destroyed. Many within the Air Force opined that superior technology permitted this dominance, but Boyd suspected otherwise.
During the war, the technology of the Soviet MiG surpassed the flight capabilities of the American planes in three critical aspects – speed, operational ceiling height and turning. The advantage possessed by the Americans lay in two under-appreciated features – a canopy that permitted greater visibility than that of its rival and advanced hydraulics. The greater field of vision permitted USAF pilots to observe and orient on targets faster whereas the hydraulics delivered more immediate responsiveness from controls (the plane reacted more quickly to input from the pilot). American pilots realized through experience that quick, aggressive movements against enemy air combat tactics overcame the superiority of the MiG’s individual flight capabilities by forcing an incapacitating number of decisions in rapid succession upon the enemy combatant. Continue reading