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Aerial warfare

Aerial warfare

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Aerial warfare is the use of military aircraft
Military aircraft
A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat:...

 and other flying machines in warfare, including military airlift of cargo to further the national interests as was demonstrated in the Berlin Airlift. Strategic air power is the bombing of enemy resources (by bombers); tactical air power is the battle for control of the air space (by fighters); close air support is the direct support of ground units; naval aviation refers especially to the use of aircraft carriers.

Kite warfare


The earliest documented aerial warfare took place in ancient China, when a manned kite
Kite
A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind...

 was set off to spy for military intelligence and communication. Ancient Chinese soldiers also mounted massive aerial fire arrow
Fire Arrow
Fire arrows are an early form of gun powder rocket which were attached to a stick. The Chinese are credited with the first use of fire arrows in a military application, they may have developed fire arrows from their use of fireworks.- Design :...

 attacks from war kites, where they would send a volley of flaming arrows from the war kite onto the ground target, carrying out the world's first-ever air attacks.

Balloon warfare in Ancient China


In or around the 2nd or 3rd century, a prototype hot air balloon
Hot air balloon
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

, the Kongming lantern was invented in China serving as military communication.

Balloon warfare in Europe


Some minor warfare use was made of balloons in the infancy of aeronautics. The first instance was by the French Aerostatic Corps
French Aerostatic Corps
The French Aerostatic Corps or Company of Aeronauts was the world's first air force, founded in 1794 to use balloons, primarily for reconnaissance.-Experimentation:...

 at the Battle of Fleurus
Battle of Fleurus (1794)
In the Battle of Fleurus on 26 June 1794, the army of the First French Republic under General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan faced the Coalition Army commanded by Prince Josias of Coburg in the most decisive battle of the Flanders Campaign in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary Wars...

 in 1794, who used a tethered balloon, L'entreprenant, to gain a vantage point.

Balloons had disadvantages. They could not fly in bad weather, fog, or high winds. They were at the mercy of the winds and were also very large targets.

American Civil War



Union Army Balloon Corps



The American Civil War was the first war to witness significant use of aeronautics in support of battle. Thaddeus Lowe made noteworthy contributions to the Union war effort using a fleet of balloons he created In June 1861 Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe
Thaddeus S. C. Lowe
Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe , also known as Professor T. S. C. Lowe, was an American Civil War aeronaut, scientist and inventor, mostly self-educated in the fields of chemistry, meteorology, and aeronautics, and the father of military aerial reconnaissance in the United States...

 left his work in the private sector and offered his services as an aeronaut to President Lincoln, who took some interest in the idea of an air war. Lowe's demonstration of flying a balloon over Washington, DC, and transmitting a telegraph message to the ground was enough to have him introduced to the commanders of the Topographical Engineers; initially it was thought balloons could be used for preparing better maps.

Lowe's first action was a free flight observation of the Confederate positions at the First Battle of Bull Run
First Battle of Bull Run
First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas , was fought on July 21, 1861, in Prince William County, Virginia, near the City of Manassas...

 in July 1861.

Lowe was called to Fort Corcoran and ascended in order to spot rebel encampments. With flag signals he directed artillery fire on the rebels.

Lowe and other balloonists formed the Union Army Balloon Corps
Union Army Balloon Corps
The Union Army Balloon Corps was a branch of the Union Army during the American Civil War, established by presidential appointee Thaddeus S. C. Lowe...

. Lowe insisted on the strict use of tether
Tether
A tether is a cord, fixture, or signal that anchors something movable to a reference point which may be fixed or moving. There are a number of applications for tethers: balloons, kites, tethered wind-energy conversion systems, anchors, tethered water-flow energy conversion systems, towing, animal...

ed (as opposed to free) flight because of concern about being shot down over enemy lines and punished as spies. By attaining altitudes from 1000 feet (304.8 m) to as much as 3½ miles, an expansive view of the battle field and beyond could be had.

As the Confederates retreated, the War turned into the Peninsular Campaign. Due to the heavy forests on the peninsula, the balloons were unable to follow on land and a coal barge converted to operate balloons. The balloons and their gas generators were loaded aboard and taken down the Potomac, where reconnaissance of the peninsula could continue.

At the Battle of Fair Oaks
Battle of Seven Pines
The Battle of Seven Pines, also known as the Battle of Fair Oaks or Fair Oaks Station, took place on May 31 and June 1, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive up the Virginia Peninsula by Union Maj. Gen....

, Lowe was able to view the enemy army advancing and sent a dispatch to have reserves sent.

The Balloon Corps was later assigned to the Engineers Corps. By August 1863, the Union Army Balloon Corps was disbanded.

Confederate Army



The Confederate Army also made use of balloons, but they were gravely hampered by lack of supplies due to embargoes. They were forced to fashion their balloons from colored silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

 dress-making material, and their use was limited by the infrequent supply of gas in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. By the summer of 1863, all balloon reconnaissance of the American Civil War had ceased.

Before World War I


Armies originally evaluated the use of aircraft for observation purposes. Naval aviation was pursued as well, with several tests done by launching floatplane
Floatplane
A floatplane is a type of seaplane, with slender pontoons mounted under the fuselage; only the floats of a floatplane normally come into contact with water, with the fuselage remaining above water...

s from ships at sea and recovering them later with cranes.

The U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 had been interested in naval aviation since the turn of the 20th century. In August 1910 Jacob Earl Fickel
Jacob Earl Fickel
Major General Jacob Earl "Jake" Fickel had a prominent career in the United States Air Force usually associated with being an instructor of aviation...

 did the first experimenting with Glenn Curtiss
Glenn Curtiss
Glenn Hammond Curtiss was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle then motorcycle builder and racer, later also manufacturing engines for airships as early as 1906...

 shooting a gun from an airplane. In 1910–1911, the Navy conducted experiments which proved the practicality of carrier-based aviation. On November 14, 1910, near Hampton Roads, Virginia, civilian pilot Eugene Ely took off from a wooden platform installed on the scout cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-2)
USS Birmingham (CL-2)
USS Birmingham , named for the city of Birmingham, Alabama, was a laid down by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company at Quincy, Massachusetts on 14 August 1905; launched on 29 May 1907; sponsored by Mrs L...

. He landed safely on shore a few minutes later. Ely proved several months later that it was also possible to land on a ship. On January 18, 1911, he landed on a platform attached to the American cruiser USS Pennsylvania (ACR-4)
USS Pennsylvania (ACR-4)
The second USS Pennsylvania , also referred to "Armored Cruiser No. 4", and later renamed Pittsburgh and numbered CA-4, was a United States Navy armored cruiser, the lead ship of her class....

 in San Francisco harbor.

The first use of airplanes in an actual war occurred in the 1911 Italo-Turkish War
Italo-Turkish War
The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy from September 29, 1911 to October 18, 1912.As a result of this conflict, Italy was awarded the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania, Fezzan, and...

 with the Italian Army Air Corps bombing a Turkish camp at Ain Zara, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

. In the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

 (1912) the Bulgarian Air Force
Bulgarian Air Force
The Bulgarian Air Force is a branch of the Military of Bulgaria, the other two being the Bulgarian Navy and Bulgarian land forces. Its mission is to guard and protect the sovereignty of Bulgarian airspace, to provide aerial support and to assist the Land Forces in case of war. The Bulgarian Air...

 bombed Turkish positions at Adrianople
Edirne
Edirne is a city in Eastern Thrace, the northwestern part of Turkey, close to the borders with Greece and Bulgaria. Edirne served as the capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1365 to 1453, before Constantinople became the empire's new capital. At present, Edirne is the capital of the Edirne...

, while the Greek Aviation
Hellenic Air Force
The Hellenic Air Force, abbreviated to HAF is the air force of Greece. The mission of the Hellenic Air Force is to guard and protect Greek airspace, provide air assistance and support to the Hellenic Army and the Hellenic Navy, as well as the provision of humanitarian aid in Greece and around the...

 performed, over the Dardanelles
Dardanelles
The Dardanelles , formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosphorus. It is located at approximately...

, the first naval air co-operation mission in history. Airplanes were also used by the U.S. against Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

. Air reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 was carried out in both wars too. The air-dropped bomb was extensively used during the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

 (including in the first ever night bombing on 7 November 1912), and subsequently shared with the Imperial German Air Service
Luftstreitkräfte
The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte , known before October 1916 as Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches , or simply Die Fliegertruppen, was the air arm of the Imperial German Army during World War I...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

World War I




Initially during that war both sides made use of tethered balloons and airplanes for observation purposes, both for information gathering and directing of artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 fire. A desire to prevent enemy observation led to airplane pilots attacking other airplanes and balloons, initially with small arms carried in the cockpit, but due to the technology of the time pilots couldn't have forward-facing machine guns.

Although the addition of deflector plates to the back of propellers by French pilot Roland Garros and designer Raymond Saulnier in the Morane-Saulnier monoplane was the first example of an aircraft able to fire through its propeller, it wasn't until the Dutch aircraft designer Anthony Fokker
Anthony Fokker
Anton Herman Gerard "Anthony" Fokker was a Dutch aviation pioneer and an aircraft manufacturer. He is most famous for the fighter aircraft he produced in Germany during the First World War such as the Eindecker monoplanes, the Fokker Triplane the and the Fokker D.VII, but after the collapse of...

 developed the gun synchronizer
Interrupter gear
An interrupter gear is a device used on military aircraft and warships in order to allow them to target opponents without damaging themselves....

 in 1915 that it became possible to aim the gun and the airplane at the same time, resulting in German Leutnant Kurt Wintgens
Kurt Wintgens
Leutnant Kurt Wintgens was a German World War I fighter ace. He was the first military fighter pilot to score a victory over an opposing aircraft in an aircraft armed with a synchronized machine gun. Wintgens was the recipient of the Iron Cross and the Blue Max.-Background:Wintgens was born into a...

 scoring the first known victory for a synchronized gun-equipped fighter aircraft, on July 1, 1915.

The Allies were able to capture a Fokker Eindecker
Fokker E.I
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Boyne, Walter J. The Smithsonian Book of Flight for Young People. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1988. ISBN 0-689-31422-1....

 with a Fokker-designed Stangensteuerung synchronizer mechanism intact and reverse engineer it, leading to the birth of aerial combat, more commonly known as the dogfight. Tactics for dogfighting evolved by trial and error. The German ace Oswald Boelcke
Oswald Boelcke
Oswald Boelcke was a German flying ace of the First World War and one of the most influential patrol leaders and tacticians of the early years of air combat. Boelcke is considered the father of the German fighter air force, as well as the "Father of Air Fighting Tactics"; he was the first to...

 created eight essential rules of dogfighting, the Dicta Boelcke
Dicta Boelcke
The Dicta Boelcke is a list of fundamental aerial maneuvers of aerial combat formulated by the first great German flying ace of the First World War, Oswald Boelcke.-1. Try to secure the upper hand before attacking...

.

Both sides also made use of aircraft for bombing, strafing
Strafing
Strafing is the practice of attacking ground targets from low-flying aircraft using aircraft-mounted automatic weapons. This means, that although ground attack using automatic weapons fire is very often accompanied with bombing or rocket fire, the term "strafing" does not specifically include the...

, sea reconnaissance, antisubmarine warfare, and dropping of propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

. The German military made use of Zeppelin
Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

s and, later on, bombers such as the Gotha
Gotha G
|-See also:-References:* The Complete Encyclopedia of Flight 1848-1939 by John Batchelor and Malcolm V. Lowe-External links:*...

, to drop bombs on Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. By the end of the war airplanes had become specialized into bombers, fighters, and observation (reconnaissance) aircraft.

By the end of World War I, aerial combat had progressed to the point where dogfight
Dogfight
A dogfight, or dog fight, is a form of aerial combat between fighter aircraft; in particular, combat of maneuver at short range, where each side is aware of the other's presence. Dogfighting first appeared during World War I, shortly after the invention of the airplane...

ing tactics based on such doctrine as the Dicta Boelcke
Dicta Boelcke
The Dicta Boelcke is a list of fundamental aerial maneuvers of aerial combat formulated by the first great German flying ace of the First World War, Oswald Boelcke.-1. Try to secure the upper hand before attacking...

 had progressed to the point that air supremacy
Air supremacy
Air supremacy is the complete dominance of the air power of one side's air forces over the other side's, during a military campaign. It is the most favorable state of control of the air...

 could be achieved; the earliest example is the Italian air offensive against the Austro-Hungarians just before the end of World War I.

Between the wars


Between 1918 and 1939 aircraft technology developed very rapidly. In 1918 most aircraft were biplanes with wooden frames, canvas skins, wire rigging and air-cooled engines. Biplanes continued to be the mainstay of air forces around the world and were used extensively in conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...


. Most industrial countries also created air force
Air force
An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

s separate from the army and navy. However, by 1939 military biplanes were in the process of being replaced with metal framed monoplane
Monoplane
A monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane or triplane. Since the late 1930s it has been the most common form for a fixed wing aircraft.-Types of monoplane:...

s, often with stressed skins and liquid cooled engines. Top speeds had tripled; altitudes doubled; ranges and payloads of bombers increased enormously.

Some theorists, especially in Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, considered that aircraft would become the dominant military arm in the future. They imagined that a future war would be won entirely by the destruction of the enemy's military and industrial capability from the air. The Italian general Giulio Douhet
Giulio Douhet
General Giulio Douhet was an Italian general and air power theorist. He was a key proponent of strategic bombing in aerial warfare...

, author of The Command of the Air, was a seminal theorist of this school, which has been associated with Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

's statement that "the bomber will always get through
The bomber will always get through
The bomber will always get through was a phrase used by Stanley Baldwin in 1932, in the speech "A Fear for the Future" to the British Parliament...

"; that is, regardless of air defences, sufficient raiders will survive to rain destruction on the enemy's cities. This led to what would later be called a strategy of deterrence
Deterrence theory
Deterrence theory gained increased prominence as a military strategy during the Cold War with regard to the use of nuclear weapons, and features prominently in current United States foreign policy regarding the development of nuclear technology in North Korea and Iran. Deterrence theory however was...

 and a "bomber gap", as nations measured air force power by number of bombers.

Others, such as General Billy Mitchell in the United States, saw the potential of air power to augment the striking power of naval surface fleets. German and British pilots had experimented with aerial bombing of ships and air-dropped torpedoes during World War I with mixed results. The vulnerability of capital ships to aircraft was demonstrated on 21 July 1921 when a squadron of bombers commanded by General Mitchell sank the ex-German battleship SMS Ostfriesland
SMS Ostfriesland
SMS Ostfriesland "SMS" stands for "Seiner Majestät Schiff" was the second vessel of the of battleships of the German Imperial Navy. Named for the region of East Frisia, Ostfrieslands keel was laid in October 1908 at the Kaiserliche Werft dockyard in Wilhelmshaven...

 with aerial bombs; although the Ostfriesland was stationary and defenseless during the exercise, its destruction demonstrated the potency of air planes against ships.

It was during the Banana Wars, while fighting bandits, freedom fighters and insurgents in places like Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 and Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, that United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 aviators would begin to experiment with air-ground tactics making the support of their fellow Marines on the ground their primary mission. It was in Haiti that Marines began to develop the tactic of dive bombing and in Nicaragua where they began to perfect it. While other nations and services had tried variations of this technique, Marine aviators
United States Marine Corps Aviation
United States Marine Corps Aviation is the air component of the United States Marine Corps. Marine aviation has a very different mission and operation than its ground counterpart, and thus, has many of its own histories, traditions, terms, and procedures....

 were the first to embrace it and make it part of their tactical doctrine

Germany was banned from possessing an air force by the terms of the World War I armistice. The German military continued to train its soldiers as pilots clandestinely until Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 was ready to openly defy the ban. This was done by forming the Deutscher Luftsportverband, a flying enthusiast's club, and training pilots as civilians, and some German pilots were even sent to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for secret training; a trained air force was thus ready as soon as the word was given. This was the beginning of the Luftwaffe.

World War II



Military aviation came into its own during the Second World War. The increased performance, range, and payload of contemporary aircraft meant that air power could move beyond the novelty applications of World War I, becoming a central striking force for all the combatant nations.

Over the course of the war, several distinct roles emerged for the application of air power.

Strategic bombing




Strategic bombing
Strategic bombing
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...

 of civilian targets from the air was first proposed by the Italian theorist General Giulio Douhet
Giulio Douhet
General Giulio Douhet was an Italian general and air power theorist. He was a key proponent of strategic bombing in aerial warfare...

. In his book The Command of the Air (1921), Douhet argued future military leaders could avoid falling into bloody World War I–style trench stalemates by using aviation to strike past the enemy's forces directly at their vulnerable civilian populations. Douhet believed such strikes would cause these populations to force their governments to surrender.

Douhet's ideas were paralleled by other military theorists who emerged from World War I, including Sir Hugh Trenchard
Hugh Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Hugh Montague Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard GCB OM GCVO DSO was a British officer who was instrumental in establishing the Royal Air Force...

 in Britain. In the interwar period, Britain and the United States became the most enthusiastic supporters of the strategic bombing theory, with each nation building specialized heavy bombers specifically for this task.

Japanese strategic bombing
Strategic bombing, mostly targeting large Chinese cities, was independently conducted during the Second Sino-Japanese war
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 and World War II by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service was the air arm of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, the organization was responsible for the operation of naval aircraft and the conduct of aerial warfare in the Pacific War.It was controlled by the Navy Staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy and...

 and the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
The , was the land-based aviation force of the Imperial Japanese Army. As with the IJA itself, the IJAAF was developed along the lines of Imperial German Army Aviation so its primary mission was to provide tactical close air support for ground troops while maintaining a limited air interdiction...

. There were also air raids on Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The Navy and Army air services used tactical bombing against ships and military positions, as at Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

.

Luftwaffe
In the early days of World War II, the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 launched devastating air attacks against besieged cities. During the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

, the Luftwaffe, frustrated in its attempts to gain air superiority, turned to bombing large British cities. However, the Luftwaffe found these raids did not have the effect predicted by prewar theorists.

Soviet Red Air Force
Although the rapid industrialization the Soviet Union experienced in the 1930s had the potential to enable the Soviet Air Forces to be effective against the Luftwaffe, Stalin's purges
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

 left the organization weakened. However, when Germany invaded in June 1941
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, the size of the Soviet AIr Forces allowed it to absorb "horrendous" casualties and still maintain capability. Despite the near collapse of Soviet forces in 1941, they survived, as German forces outran their supply lines and the Americans and British provided Lend Lease assistance.

Although strategic bombing requires that the enemy's industrial war capacity be neutralized, some Soviet factories were moved far out of reach of the Luftwaffe's bombers. Because the Luftwaffe's resources were needed to support the German army, the Luftwaffe became overstretched, and even victorious battles degraded Germany's air force due to attrition. By 1943, the Soviets were able to produce considerably more airplanes than their German rivals; for example, at Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

, the Soviets had twice the number of airplanes that the Luftwaffe had. Utilizing overwhelming numerical superiority, Soviet forces were able to drive the Germans out of Soviet territory and take the war to Germany.

Allied air forces in Europe
The British started a strategic bombing campaign in 1940 that was to last for the rest of the war. Early British bombers were all twin-engined designs and were lacking in defensive armament. Therefore, RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

 turned to a policy of area bombing at night. Later in the war pathfinder
Pathfinder (RAF)
The Pathfinders were elite squadrons in RAF Bomber Command during World War II. They located and marked targets with flares, which a main bomber force could aim at, increasing the accuracy of their bombing...

 tactics, radio location
Oboe (navigation)
Oboe was a British aerial blind bombing targeting system in World War II, based on radio transponder technology. Oboe accurately measured the distance to an aircraft, and gave the pilot guidance on whether or not they were flying along a pre-selected circular route. The route was only 35 yards...

, ground mapping radar
H2S radar
H2S was the first airborne, ground scanning radar system. It was developed in Britain in World War II for the Royal Air Force and was used in various RAF bomber aircraft from 1943 to the 1990s. It was designed to identify targets on the ground for night and all-weather bombing...

, and very low-level bombing enabled specific targets to be attacked.


When the U.S.A.A.F arrived in England in 1942, the Americans were convinced they could carry out successful daylight raids. The U.S. Eighth Air Force
Eighth Air Force
The Eighth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Global Strike Command . It is headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana....

 was equipped with high-altitude four-engined designs. The new bombers also featured a strong defensive armament. Flying in daylight in large formations, U.S. doctrine held tactical formations of heavy bombers would be sufficient to gain air superiority without escort fighters. The intended raids would hit hard on chokepoints in the German war economy
War economy
War economy is the term used to describe the contingencies undertaken by the modern state to mobilise its economy for war production. Philippe Le Billon describes a war economy as a "system of producing, mobilising and allocating resources to sustain the violence".Many states increase the degree of...

 such as oil refineries
Oil refinery
An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas...

 or ball bearing
Ball bearing
A ball bearing is a type of rolling-element bearing that uses balls to maintain the separation between the bearing races.The purpose of a ball bearing is to reduce rotational friction and support radial and axial loads. It achieves this by using at least two races to contain the balls and transmit...

 factories.

The U.S.A.A.F. was compelled to change its doctrine since bombers alone, no matter how heavily armed, could not achieve air superiority against single-engined fighters. In a series of missions in 1943
Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission
The Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission was an air combat battle in World War II. A strategic bombing attack flown by B-17 Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Army Air Forces on August 17, 1943, it was conceived as an ambitious plan to cripple the German aircraft industry...

 that penetrated beyond the range of fighter cover, there were loss rates up to twenty percent. Almost 68,000 U.S airmen died helping to win the war. Overall, the Allies lost 160,000 airmen and 33,700 planes during the air war over Europe.

Air superiority
During the Battle of Britain, many of the best Luftwaffe pilots had been forced to bail out over British soil, where they were captured. As the quality of the Luftwaffe fighter arm decreased, the Americans introduced the long-range escort fighter
Escort fighter
The escort fighter was a World War II concept for a fighter aircraft designed to escort bombers to and from their targets.The perfect escort fighter had long range, a lengthy combat loiter time to protect the bombers, and enough internal fuel to return home...

s, carrying drop tanks. Newer, inexperienced German pilots—flying potentially superior aircraft, gradually became less and less effective at thinning the late-war bomber stream
Bomber stream
The bomber stream was a tactic developed by the Royal Air Force Bomber Command to overwhelm the German aerial defences of the Kammhuber Line during World War II....

s. Adding fighters to the daylight raids gave the bombers much-needed protection and greatly improved the impact of the strategic bombing effort.

Over time, from 1942 to 1944, the Allies' air forces became stronger while the Luftwaffe became weaker. During 1944, Germany's air force lost control of Germany's skies. As a result nothing in Germany could be securely protected—not army units, nor factories, nor civilians in cities, nor the nation's capital. German soldiers and civilians began to be slaughtered in the thousands by aerial bombardment.

Effectiveness
Strategic bombing by non-atomic means did not win the war for the Allies, nor did it succeed in breaking the will to resist of the German (and Japanese) people. But in the words of the German armaments minister Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, it created "a second front in the air." Speer succeeded in increasing the output of armaments right up to mid-1944 in spite of the bombing. Still, the war against the British and American bombers demanded enormous amounts of resources: antiaircraft guns, day and night fighters, radars, searchlights, manpower, ammunition, and fuel.

On the Allied side, strategic bombing diverted material resources, equipment (such as radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

) aircraft, and manpower away from the Battle of the Atlantic and Allied armies. As a result, German army groups in Russia, Italy, and France rarely saw friendly aircraft and constantly ran short of tanks, trucks, and anti-tank weapons.

U.S. Bombing of Japan
In June 1944, B-29s launched from China, bombed Japanese factories
Bombing of Yawata (June 1944)
The Bombing of Yawata on the night of 15/16 June 1944 was the first air raid on the Japanese home islands conducted by United States Army Air Forces strategic bombers during World War II. The raid was undertaken by 75 B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers staging from bases in China...

. From November 1944 increasingly intense raids were launched from bases closer to Japan. Tactics evolved from high-altitude to lower altitude attacks, largely removing most defensive guns and switching to incendiary bombs. These attacks devastated many Japanese cities.

In August 1945, B-29s dropped atomic bombs
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

. This, along with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, brought about the Japanese surrender, and the official end of World War II.

Tactical air support


By contrast with the British strategists, the primary purpose of the Luftwaffe was to support the Army. This accounted for the presence of large numbers of dive bomber
Dive bomber
A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target reduces the distance the bomb has to fall, which is the primary factor in determining the accuracy of the drop...

s on strength and the scarcity of long-range heavy bombers. This 'flying artillery' greatly assisted in the successes of the German Army in the Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

 (1940) . Hitler determined air superiority was essential for the invasion of Britain
Operation Sealion
Operation Sea Lion was Germany's plan to invade the United Kingdom during the Second World War, beginning in 1940. To have had any chance of success, however, the operation would have required air and naval supremacy over the English Channel...

. When this was not achieved in the Battle of Britain, the invasion was canceled, making this the first major battle whose outcome was determined primarily in the air.

The war in Russia forced the Luftwaffe to devote the majority of its resources to providing tactical air support for the beleaguered German army. In that role, the Luftwaffe used the Junkers Ju 87
Junkers Ju 87
The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was a two-man German ground-attack aircraft...

, Henschel Hs 123
Henschel Hs 123
The Henschel Hs 123 was a single-seat biplane dive bomber and close-support attack aircraft flown by the German Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War and the early to mid-point of World War II...

 and modified fighters—Bf 109 and FW 190.

The Red Air Force was also primarily used in the tactical support role, and towards the end of the war was very effective in the support of the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 in its advance across Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

. An aircraft of importance to the Soviets was the Ilyushin Il-2
Ilyushin Il-2
The Ilyushin Il-2 was a ground-attack aircraft in the Second World War, produced by the Soviet Union in very large numbers...

 Sturmovik
—appropriately called "flying artilery"; the Il-2 was able to make life very difficult for panzer
Panzer
A Panzer is a German language word that, when used as a noun, means "tank". When it is used as an adjective, it means either tank or "armoured" .- Etymology :...

 crews, and the Il-2 was an important part of the Soviet victory at Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

—one of the biggest tank battles in history.

Military transport aviation and use of airborne troops


Military transport aviation was invaluable to all sides in maintaining supply and communications of ground troops, and was used on many notable occasions such as resupply of German troops in and around Stalingrad after Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army, the Third and Fourth Romanian armies, and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army. The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was...

, and employment of airborne troops.
After the first trials in use of airborne troops by the Red Army displayed in the early 1930s many European nations and Japan also formed the airborne troops, and these saw extensive service on in all Theatres of the Second World War.

However their effectiveness as shock troops
Shock troops
Shock troops or assault troops are formations created to lead an attack. "Shock troop" is a loose translation of the German word Stoßtrupp...

 employed to surprise
Surprise (emotion)
Surprise is a brief emotional state experienced as the result of an unexpected event. Surprise can have any valence; that is, it can be neutral/moderate, pleasant, or unpleasant. If a person experiences a very powerful or long lasting surprise, it may be considered shock.-Reality...

 enemy static troops proved to be of limited success. Most airborne troops served as light infantry
Light infantry
Traditionally light infantry were soldiers whose job was to provide a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Light infantry was distinct from medium, heavy or line infantry. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight...

 by the end of the war despite attempts at massed use in the Western Theatre by US and Britain during Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time....

.

Naval aviation




Aircraft and the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 first became important in naval battles in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Carrier-based aircraft
Carrier-based aircraft
Carrier-based aircraft are military aircraft designed specifically for operations from aircraft carriers. The term is generally applied only to fixed-wing aircraft, as naval helicopters are able to operate from a wider variety of aviation-capable ships. Carrier-based aircraft must be relatively...

 were specialized as dive bombers, torpedo bombers, and fighters.

Surface-based aircraft such as the PBY Catalina helped finding submarines and surface fleets. The aircraft carrier replaced the battleship as the most powerful naval offensive weapons system as battles between fleets were increasingly fought out of gun range by aircraft. The Yamato, the most powerful battleship ever built was first turned back by light escort carrier aircraft, and later sunk lacking its own air cover.

The US launched normally land-based bombers from carriers in a raid against Tokyo
Doolittle Raid
The Doolittle Raid, on 18 April 1942, was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese Home Islands during World War II. By demonstrating that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, it provided a vital morale boost and opportunity for U.S. retaliation after the...

. Smaller carriers were built in large numbers to escort slow cargo convoys or supplement fast carriers. Aircraft for observation or light raids were also carried by battleships and cruisers, while blimps were used to search for attack submarines.

In the Battle of the Atlantic, aircraft carried by low-cost escort carriers were used for antisubmarine patrol, defense, and attack..At the start of the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 in 1941, Japanese carrier-based aircraft sank many US warships at Pearl Harbor and land-based aircraft sank two large British warships
Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse
The sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse was a Second World War naval engagement that took place north of Singapore, off the east coast of Malaya, near Kuantan, Pahang where the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and...

. Engagements between Japanese and American naval fleets were then conducted largely or entirely by aircraft - examples include the battles of Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged...

, Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

, Bismarck Sea
Battle of the Bismarck Sea
The Battle of the Bismarck Sea took place in the South West Pacific Area during World War II. During the course of the battle, aircraft of the U.S. 5th Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force attacked a Japanese convoy that was carrying troops to Lae, New Guinea...

 and Philippine Sea
Battle of the Philippine Sea
The Battle of the Philippine Sea was a decisive naval battle of World War II which effectively eliminated the Imperial Japanese Navy's ability to conduct large-scale carrier actions. It took place during the United States' amphibious invasion of the Mariana Islands during the Pacific War...

.

Cold War


Military aviation in the post-war years was dominated by the needs of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. The post-war years saw the almost total conversion of combat aircraft to jet power, which resulted in enormous increases in speeds and altitudes of aircraft. Until the advent of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

 major powers relied on high-altitude bombers to deliver their newly developed nuclear deterrent; each country strove to develop the technology of bombers and the high-altitude fighters that could intercept them. The concept of air superiority began to play a heavy role in aircraft designs for both the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Americans developed and made extensive use of the high-altitude observation aircraft for intelligence-gathering. The U-2
Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency . It provides day and night, very high-altitude , all-weather intelligence gathering...

, and later the SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 Blackbird
The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by the Lockheed Skunk Works. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was responsible for many of the...

 were developed in great secrecy. The U-2 at its time was supposed to be invulnerable to defensive measures, due to its extreme altitude. It therefore came as a great shock when the Soviets downed one piloted by Gary Powers
Gary Powers
Francis Gary Powers was an American pilot whose Central Intelligence Agency U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over Soviet Union airspace, causing the 1960 U-2 incident.- Early life :...

 with a surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

.

Air combat was also transformed through increased use of air-to-air guided missiles with increased sophistication in guidance
Guidance system
A guidance system is a device or group of devices used to navigate a ship, aircraft, missile, rocket, satellite, or other craft. Typically, this refers to a system that navigates without direct or continuous human control...

 and increased range
Range (aircraft)
The maximal total range is the distance an aircraft can fly between takeoff and landing, as limited by fuel capacity in powered aircraft, or cross-country speed and environmental conditions in unpowered aircraft....

. In the 70s and 80s it became clear that speed and altitude was not enough to protect a bomber against air defences. The emphasis shifted therefore to maneuverable attack aircraft that could fly 'under the radar', at altitudes of a few hundred feet.

Korean War




The Korean War was best remembered for jet combat, but was one of the last major wars where propeller-powered fighters such as the P-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustang
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and in several other conflicts...

, F4U Corsair
F4U Corsair
The Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and...

 and aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

-based Hawker Sea Fury
Hawker Sea Fury
The Hawker Sea Fury was a British fighter aircraft developed for the Royal Navy by Hawker during the Second World War. The last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy, it was also one of the fastest production single piston-engined aircraft ever built.-Origins:The Hawker Fury was an...

 and Supermarine Seafire
Supermarine Seafire
The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. The name Seafire was arrived at by collapsing the longer name Sea Spitfire.-Origins of the Seafire:...

 were used. Turbojet fighter aircraft such as F-80s, F-84 Thunderjets and F9F Panther
F9F Panther
|-Popular culture:The Panther played a prominent role in the 1954 movie Men of the Fighting Lady . The F9F was featured in the flying sequences in the 1954 movie The Bridges at Toko-Ri, although in the 1953 James A...

s came to dominate the skies, overwhelming North Korea’s propeller-driven Yakovlev Yak-9
Yakovlev Yak-9
The Yakovlev Yak-9 was a single-engine fighter aircraft used by the Soviet Union in World War II and after. Fundamentally a lighter development of the Yak-7 with the same armament, it arrived at the front at the end of 1942. The Yak-9 had a lowered rear fuselage decking and all-around vision canopy...

s and Lavochkin La-9
Lavochkin La-9
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Gordon, Yefim. Lavochkin's Piston-Engined Fighters . Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-85780-151-2....

s.

From 1950, North Koreans flew the Soviet-made MiG-15 jet fighters which introduced the near-sonic speeds of swept wings to air combat. Though an open secret during the war, the most formidable pilots today now admit that they were experienced Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

 pilots, a casus belli
Casus belli
is a Latin expression meaning the justification for acts of war. means "incident", "rupture" or indeed "case", while means bellic...

deliberately overlooked by the UN allied forces who suspected the use of Russians but were reluctant to engage in open war with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.

At first, UN jet fighters, which also included Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
The Royal Australian Air Force is the air force branch of the Australian Defence Force. The RAAF was formed in March 1921. It continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps , which was formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF has taken part in many of the 20th century's major conflicts...

 Gloster Meteors, had some success, but straight winged jets were soon outclassed in daylight by the superior speed of the MiGs. At night, however, radar-equipped Marine Corps F3D Skynight night fighters claimed five MiG kills with no losses of their own, and no B-29s under their escort were lost to enemy fighters.

In December 1950, the U.S. Air Force rushed in their own swept-wing fighter, the F-86 Sabre
F-86 Sabre
The North American F-86 Sabre was a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as America's first swept wing fighter which could counter the similarly-winged Soviet MiG-15 in high speed dogfights over the skies of the Korean War...

. The MiG could fly higher, 50,000 vs. 42000 feet (12,801.6 m), offering a distinct advantage at the start of combat. In level flight, their maximum speeds were comparable — about 660 mi/h. The MiG could climb better, while the Sabre could turn and dive better with an all-flying tailplane. For weapons, the MiG carried two 23 mm and one 37 mm cannon, compared to the Sabre’s six .50 (12.7 mm) caliber machine guns. The American .50 caliber machine guns, while not packing the same punch, carried many more rounds and were aimed with a more accurate radar-ranging gunsight. The U.S. pilots also had the advantage of G-suit
G-suit
A G-suit, or the more accurately named anti-G suit, is worn by aviators and astronauts who are subject to high levels of acceleration force . It is designed to prevent a black-out and G-LOC caused by the blood pooling in the lower part of the body when under acceleration, thus depriving the...

s, which were used for the first time in this war.

Even after the Air Force introduced the advanced F-86, its pilots often struggled against the jets piloted by Soviet pilots, dubbed "honchos". The UN gradually gained air superiority over most of Korea that lasted until the end of the war — a decisive factor in helping the UN first advance into the north, and then resist the Chinese invasion of South Korea.

After the war, the USAF claimed 792 MiG-15s and 108 additional aircraft shot down by Sabres for the loss of 78 Sabres, a ratio in excess of 10:1, though some other studies show a gap of close to 2:1 against the best Russian pilots. Some post-war research has been able to confirm only 379 victories, although the USAF continues to maintain its official credits and the debate is possibly irreconcilable.

The Soviets claimed about 1,100 air-to-air victories and 335 combat MiG losses at that time. China's official losses were 231 planes shot down in air-to-air combat (mostly MiG-15) and 168 other losses. The number of losses of the North Korean Air Force was not revealed. It is estimated that it lost about 200 aircraft in the first stage of the war, and another 70 aircraft after Chinese intervention.

Soviet claims of 650 victories over the Sabres, and China's claims of another 211 F-86s, are considered to be exaggerated by the USAF. According to a recent U.S. publication, the number of F-86s ever present in the Korean peninsula during the war totaled only 674 and the total F-86 losses from all causes were about 230.

The Korean war was the first time the helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

 was used extensively in a conflict. While helicopters such as the YR-4 were used in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, their use was rare, and Jeep
Jeep
Jeep is an automobile marque of Chrysler . The first Willys Jeeps were produced in 1941 with the first civilian models in 1945, making it the oldest off-road vehicle and sport utility vehicle brand. It inspired a number of other light utility vehicles, such as the Land Rover which is the second...

s like the Willys MB
Willys MB
The Willys MB US Army Jeep and the Ford GPW, were manufactured from 1941 to 1945. These small four-wheel drive utility vehicles are considered the iconic World War II Jeep, and inspired many similar light utility vehicles. Over the years, the World War II Jeep later evolved into the "CJ" civilian...

 were the main method of removing an injured soldier. In the Korean war helicopters like the H-19 partially took over in the non combat Medevac
MEDEVAC
Medical evacuation, often termed Medevac or Medivac, is the timely and efficient movement and en route care provided by medical personnel to the wounded being evacuated from the battlefield or to injured patients being evacuated from the scene of an accident to receiving medical facilities using...

 area.

Indo-Pakistani Wars


The wars saw the Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

 and the Pakistani Air Force being involved in full scale combat for the first time since independence. Though the two forces had previously faced off in the First Kashmir War during the late 1940s, it was limited in scale compared to the conflicts of 1965 and 1971.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April 1965 and September 1965 between Pakistan and India. This conflict became known as the Second Kashmir War fought by India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, the first having been fought in 1947...

, both air forces engaged each other for the first time in a full blown combat. Both countries hold highly contradictory claims on combat losses during the war and hardly any neutral sources have thoroughly verified the claims of both countries' claim. PAF claimed it had shot down 104 IAF planes losing only 19 in the process. India meanwhile claimed that 35 IAF planes were lost while shooting down 73 PAF aircraft.
By the end of the war, neither the numerically larger IAF, nor the PAF which possessed a qualitative advantage, achieved air superiority.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military conflict between India and Pakistan. Indian, Bangladeshi and international sources consider the beginning of the war to be Operation Chengiz Khan, Pakistan's December 3, 1971 pre-emptive strike on 11 Indian airbases...

, the Indian Air force had both the qualitative as well as numerical edge over PAF after the induction of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek by Polish pilots due to...

 in large numbers. The war began with Operation Chengiz Khan
Operation Chengiz Khan
Operation Chengiz Khan was the code name assigned to the pre-emptive strikes carried out by the Pakistani Air Force on the forward airbases and radar installations of the Indian Air Force on the evening of 3 December 1971, and marked the formal initiation of hostilities of the Indo-Pakistani war...

, Pakistan's December 3, 1971 pre-emptive strike
Pre-Emptive Strike
Pre-Emptive Strike is the first release by Five Finger Death Punch on July 10, 2007. It was only released as a digital download to the American iTunes Music Store. The live version of "The Devil's Own" was recorded at a performance in Las Vegas, Nevada....

 on 11 Indian airbases. After the initial preemptive strike, PAF adopted a defensive stance in response to the Indian retaliation. As the war progressed, the Indian Air Force continued to battle the PAF over conflict zones, but the number of sorties flown by the PAF gradually decreased day-by-day. The Indian Air Force flew 4,000 sorties while its counterpart, the PAF offered little in retaliation, partly because of the paucity of non-Bengali technical personnel. This lack of retaliation has also been attributed to the deliberate decision of the PAF High Command to cut its losses as it had already incurred huge losses in the conflict. The PAF also did not intervene during the Indian Navy's two raids on Pakistani naval port city of Karachi codenamed Operation Trident
Operation Trident
Operation Trident or Trident, is a Metropolitan Police Service unit set up to investigate and inform people about black gun crime , with special attention being placed on shootings relating to the illegal sale of drugs. The initiative was set up in March 1998 by black people following a series of...

 and Operation Python
Operation Python
Operation Python, a follow up to Operation Trident, was a code name of a naval attack launched on West Pakistan's port city of Karachi by the Indian Navy during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971...

.
PAF also was not able to support its troops during Battle of Longewala
Battle of Longewala
The Battle of Longewala was one of the first major engagements in the Western Sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, fought between assaulting Pakistani forces and Indian defenders at the Indian border post of Longewala, in the Thar Desert of the Rajasthan state in India.The Indian infantry...

.
In the east, the small air contingent of Pakistan Air Force No. 14 Sqn was destroyed, putting the Dhaka airfield out of commission and resulting in Indian air superiority in the east.

Vietnam War


The South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) was originally equipped with helicopters such as the CH-21 and propeller powered aircraft such as the T-28 Trojan when jet aircraft were disallowed by treaty. As US involvement increased, most airpower was directly flown by US forces.

Large scale use of helicopters by the US Army in Vietnam led to a new class of airmobile troops, and the introduction of "Air Cavalry" in the U.S, culminating in extensive use of the UH-1 Huey helicopter which would become a symbol of that war, while the CH-54 Tarhe
CH-54 Tarhe
|-See also:-External links:* *...

 "Skycrane" and CH-47 Chinook lifted heavier loads such as vehicles or artillery. Troops were able to land unexpectedly, strike, and leave again, and evacuate wounded. The specialized AH-1 Cobra
AH-1 Cobra
The Bell AH-1 Cobra is a two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It shares a common engine, transmission and rotor system with the older UH-1 Iroquois...

 was developed from the Huey for escort and ground support duties, The later Soviet campaign in Afghanistan would also see widespread use of helicopters as part of the Air Assault
Air assault
Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take-off and landing aircraft—such as the helicopter—to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces...

 brigades and regiments.

US forces provided close support of ground force over South Vietnam, and strategic bombing of targets over North Vietnam. Many types flying close support or COIN (Counter Insurgency Warfare) missions were propeller powered types such as the O-1 and OV-10 Bronco
OV-10 Bronco
The North American Aviation Rockwell OV-10 Bronco is a turboprop light attack and observation aircraft. It was developed in the 1960s as a special aircraft for counter-insurgency combat, and one of its primary missions was as a forward air control aircraft...

 FAC spotters, A-1 Skyraider
A-1 Skyraider
The Douglas A-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. It became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after a French World War I fighter...

, B-26 Invader, and AC-47 "Spooky" gunship. C-123 Provider
C-123 Provider
The C-123 Provider was an American military transport aircraft designed by Chase Aircraft and subsequently built by Fairchild Aircraft for the United States Air Force...

 and C-130 Hercules
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

 transports flew supplies into battlefields such as Khe Sanh
Khe Sanh
Khe Sanh is the district capital of Hướng Hoá District, Quảng Trị Province, Vietnam, located 63 km west of Đông Hà.Khe Sanh Combat Base was a United States Marine Corps outpost in South Vietnam used during the Vietnam War. The airstrip was built in September 1962...

.

"Fast movers" included the supersonic F-100 Super Sabre
F-100 Super Sabre
The North American F-100 Super Sabre was a supersonic jet fighter aircraft that served with the United States Air Force from 1954 to 1971 and with the Air National Guard until 1979. The first of the Century Series collection of USAF jet fighters, it was the first USAF fighter capable of...

, while the giant B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force since the 1950s. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, who have continued to provide maintainence and upgrades to the aircraft in service...

 would be modified to unload a massive high explosive payload on enemy troop concentrations. The AC-130 would become the ultimate gunship, while the AX specification to replace the Skyraider would evolve into the A-10 Thunderbolt II
A-10 Thunderbolt II
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American single-seat, twin-engine, straight-wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. The A-10 was designed for a United States Air Force requirement to provide close air support for ground forces by attacking tanks,...

.

The USAF F-105 Thunderchief
F-105 Thunderchief
The Republic F-105 Thunderchief, was a supersonic fighter-bomber used by the United States Air Force. The Mach 2 capable F-105 conducted the majority of strike bombing missions during the early years of the Vietnam War; it has the dubious distinction of being the only US aircraft to have been...

s flew the bulk of strike missions against North Vietnam in Operation Rolling Thunder
Operation Rolling Thunder
Operation Rolling Thunder was the title of a gradual and sustained US 2nd Air Division , US Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force aerial bombardment campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 2 March 1965 until 1 November 1968, during the Vietnam War.The four objectives...

, while carrier-based A-4 Skyhawk
A-4 Skyhawk
The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft designed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated the A4D...

s were flown by the Navy. That first campaign was marred by carefully measured regulations that prohibited attacks against SAM missile sites and fighter bases, and frequent bombing halts, and produced little in political results. Rolling Thunder saw the first combat use of electronic computers aboard PIRAZ
PIRAZ
PIRAZ is a United States Navy acronym for Positive Identification RADAR Advisory Zone. The zone is defined by the air search RADAR coverage of a ship patrolling a designated PIRAZ station...

 ships to display comprehensive real-time aircraft position information for force commanders.
Lessons learned were applied to the later Operation Linebacker
Operation Linebacker
Operation Linebacker was the title of a U.S. Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 aerial interdiction campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 9 May to 23 October 1972, during the Vietnam War....

 which employed Phantoms, B-52s, swing-wing F-111s, A-7 Corsairs and all-weather A-6 Intruder
A-6 Intruder
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an American, twin jet-engine, mid-wing attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps between 1963 and 1997, the Intruder was designed as an all-weather medium attack aircraft to replace the piston-engined A-1 Skyraider...

s was more successful in bringing North Vietnam to the negotiating table after a massive ground invasion. North Vietnam effectively combined Soviet and Chinese anti-aircraft artillery, SA-2 guided missiles, and MiG fighters to create the most heavily defended airspace up to that time.

US air strikes would combine the use of airbone radar platforms such as the EC-121 Warning Star
EC-121 Warning Star
The Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star was a United States Navy and United States Air Force airborne early warning radar surveillance aircraft. A military version of the Lockheed Constellation, it was designed to serve as an airborne early warning system to supplement the Distant Early Warning Line,...

, KC-135 Stratotanker
KC-135 Stratotanker
The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is an aerial refueling military aircraft. It and the Boeing 707 airliner were developed from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. The KC-135 was the US Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97 Stratotanker...

s for air refueling, radar jamming aircraft and specialized "Wild Weasel" units to attack SAM missile sites. Jolly Green Giant
Sikorsky S-61R
The Sikorsky S-61R is a twin-engine helicopter used in transport or search and rescue roles. A developed version of the S-61/SH-3 Sea King, the S-61R was also built under license by Agusta as the AS-61R...

 helicopter crews escorted by A-1 "Sandy"s
A-1 Skyraider
The Douglas A-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. It became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after a French World War I fighter...

 would retrieve downed pilots
Air Rescue Service
The Air Rescue Service is a disestablished organization in the United States Air Force. Previously a subcommand of the Military Air Transport Service , a USAF major command , ARS was redesignated as the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service on 1 Jan 1966 when MATS was redesignated as the Military...

 over hostile territory.With the use of "smart" guided bombs late in the war, this would set the model for future US air operations.

Experts were surprised when advanced F-105s were shot down in its first encounter against the elderly but nimble MiG-17. Dogfights were thought to be obsolete in the age of missiles, but pilots now needed maneuverability. The F-4 Phantom was quickly tasked with protecting against MiGs, but sorely lacked a built-in gun when missiles were often unreliable. Air combat training schools such as TOPGUN
United States Navy Fighter Weapons School
The United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program , more popularly known as TOPGUN, is the modern-day evolution of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School which was originally established on March 3, 1969 at the former Naval Air Station Miramar in California...

 would improve kill ratios, but combat experience started programs that would produce agile air superiority fighters with guns such as the F-15 Eagle
F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

 by the 1970s.

South Vietnam fell without US air support when faced with a massive assault in 1975. The VNAF South Vietnamese Air Force was never supplied with powerful fighters and bombers such as the Phantom and B-52 which could strike at North Vietnam.

Middle East


In the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 of 1967, the Israeli Air Force launched pre-emptive strikes which destroyed opposing Arab air forces on the ground. The Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

 of 1973 saw the Arab deployment of mobile SA-6 missiles which proved effective against low-flying Israeli aircraft until they were neutralized by ground forces.

Falklands War (1982)



During the six-week Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 Argentine air units inflicted serious damage and losses to the British naval forces. British carrier-based Harriers flew over 1500 sorties and Vulcans
Avro Vulcan
The Avro Vulcan, sometimes referred to as the Hawker Siddeley Vulcan, was a jet-powered delta wing strategic bomber, operated by the Royal Air Force from 1956 until 1984. Aircraft manufacturer A V Roe & Co designed the Vulcan in response to Specification B.35/46. Of the three V bombers produced,...

 flew long-range bombing missions.

Post Cold War



The collapse of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in 1991 forced Western air forces to undergo a shift from the massive numbers felt to be necessary during the Cold War to smaller numbers of multi-role aircraft. The closure of several military bases overseas and the U.S. Base Realignment and Closure program have served to highlight the effectiveness of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s in the absence of dedicated military or air forces bases, as the Falklands war
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 and U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf have highlighted.

The advent of precision-guided munition
Precision-guided munition
A precision-guided munition is a guided munition intended to precisely hit a specific target, and to minimize damage to things other than the target....

s have allowed for strike
Military strike
A military strike is a limited attack on a specified target. Strikes are used, amongst other things, to render facilities inoperable , to assassinate enemy leaders, and to limit supply to enemy troops. A strike can often be the prelude to a war or siege, whose initial strike is for a strategic or...

s at arbitrary surface targets once proper reconnaissance is performed (network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare, also called network-centric operations, is a military doctrine or theory of war pioneered by the United States Department of Defense in the 1990's....

). In some cases such as the NATO Operation Allied Force
Operation Allied Force
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

 effort against Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

n operations in Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

, air power was the deciding factor with ground forces mostly securing the area afterwards. However in most cases the standard military doctrine still applies: wars against third-world regional entities still cannot be won through air power alone.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has noted that sales of combat aircraft can have a destabilizing effect because of their ability to quickly strike neighboring countries, such as during Operation Orchard
Operation Orchard
Operation Orchard was an Israeli airstrike on a nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria carried out just after midnight on September 6, 2007. The White House and Central Intelligence Agency later confirmed that American intelligence had also indicated the site was a nuclear facility...

 in 2007.

Gulf War (1991)



The role of air power in modern warfare was dramatically demonstrated during the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 in 1991. Air attacks were made on Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i command and control centers, communications facilities, supply depots, and reinforcement forces. Air superiority over Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 was gained before major ground combat began.

The initial strikes were composed of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from ships, F-117 stealth bombers with an armament of laser-guided bombs, and aircraft armed with anti-radar missiles
Anti-radiation missile
An anti-radiation missile is a missile which is designed to detect and home on an enemy radio emission source. Typically these are designed for use against an enemy radar, although jammers and even radios used for communication can also be targeted in this manner.- Air-to-Ground :Most ARM designs...

. These first attacks allowed fighter-bomber
Fighter-bomber
A fighter-bomber is a fixed-wing aircraft with an intended primary role of light tactical bombing and also incorporating certain performance characteristics of a fighter aircraft. This term, although still used, has less significance since the introduction of rockets and guided missiles into aerial...

s to gain air superiority over the country and then continue to drop guided bombs.

A-10 Thunderbolts
A-10 Thunderbolt II
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American single-seat, twin-engine, straight-wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. The A-10 was designed for a United States Air Force requirement to provide close air support for ground forces by attacking tanks,...

 attacked Iraqi armored forces with gatling gun
Gatling gun
The Gatling gun is one of the best known early rapid-fire weapons and a forerunner of the modern machine gun. It is well known for its use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s, which was the first time it was employed in combat...

s and Maverick
AGM-65 Maverick
The AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-ground tactical missile designed for close-air support. It is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities....

 missiles, supporting the advance of US ground troops. Attack helicopter
Attack helicopter
An attack helicopter is a military helicopter with the primary role of an attack aircraft, with the capability of engaging targets on the ground, such as enemy infantry and armored vehicles...

s, fired laser guided Hellfire
AGM-114 Hellfire
The AGM-114 Hellfire is an air-to-surface missile developed primarily for anti-armor use. It has multi-mission, multi-target precision-strike capability, and can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms. The Hellfire missile is the primary 100 lb-class air-to-ground precision...

 missiles and TOW missiles. The allied air fleet also made use of AWACS
E-3 Sentry
The Boeing E-3 Sentry is an airborne warning and control system developed by Boeing as the prime contractor. Derived from the Boeing 707, it provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications, and is used by the United States Air Force , NATO, Royal Air Force , French Air Force...

 aircraft and B-52
B-52 Stratofortress
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force since the 1950s. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, who have continued to provide maintainence and upgrades to the aircraft in service...

 bombers.

The aerial strike force was made up of over 2,250 combat aircraft, which included 1,800 US aircraft, which fought against an Iraqi force of about 500 MiG-29
Mikoyan MiG-29
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a fourth-generation jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union for an air superiority role. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983, and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other...

 and Mirage F1 fighters. More than 88,000 combat missions had been flown by allied forces with over 88,000 tons of bombs dropped by the end of the fifth week.

Kargil War (1999)




On 11 May 1999, the Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

 was called in to provide helicopters for close air support
Close air support
In military tactics, close air support is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.The determining factor for CAS is...

 to the Indian Army at the height of the ongoing Kargil conflict with Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. The first strikes were launched on the 26 May, when the Indian Air Force struck infiltrator positions with fighter aircraft and helicopter gunships. The initial strikes saw MiG-27s carrying out offensive sorties, with MiG-21s and MiG-29s providing fighter cover. The IAF also deployed radars and MiG-29 fighters to keep check on Pakistani military movements across the border.

On 27 May, the IAF lost a MiG-21
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek by Polish pilots due to...

 to enemy action and a MiG-27 to mechanical failure. The following day, a Mi-17 was lost to SAM
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

s while on an offensive sortie. These losses forced the IAF to withdraw helicopters from offensive roles. On 30 May, the IAF called into operation the Mirage 2000 which was deemed the best aircraft in the high-altitude conditions. Mirage 2000s not only had better defence equipment compared to the MiGs, but also gave IAF the ability to carry out aerial raids at night. The MiG-29s were used extensively to provide fighter escort to the Mirage 2000. The Mirages successfully targeted enemy camps and logistic bases in Kargil. At the height of the conflict, the IAF was conducting over forty sorties daily over the Kargil region. By 26 July, the Indian forces had liberated Kargil from Pakistani forces.

Iraq War (2003-)


During the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 led by US and British forces putatively to defeat the regime of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, aerial warfare continued to be decisive. The US-British alliance began its air campaign on March 19 with limited nighttime bombing on the Iraqi capital of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. Several days later, intensive bombardment began. About 14,000 sorties were flown, and at a cost of $1 million dollars each, 800 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at numerous targets in Iraq from March 19 until mid-April 2003. By this time Iraqi resistance had largely ended.

Iraqi anti-aircraft weapons were unable to open fire on high-altitude US bombers such as the B-52 or stealth aircraft such as the B-2
B-2 Spirit
The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is an American heavy bomber with low observable stealth technology designed to penetrate dense anti-aircraft defenses and deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. The bomber has a crew of two and can drop up to eighty -class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen ...

 bomber and the F-117A. US and British aircraft used radar-detecting devices and aerial reconnaissance to locate Iraqi anti-aircraft weapons. Bunker buster
Bunker buster
A bunker buster is a bomb designed to penetrate hardened targets or targets buried deep underground.-Germany:Röchling shells were bunker-busting artillery shells, developed by German engineer August Cönders, based on the theory of increasing sectional density to improve penetration.They were tested...

 bombs, designed to penetrate and destroy underground bunker
Bunker
A military bunker is a hardened shelter, often buried partly or fully underground, designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks...

s, were dropped on Iraqi command and control centers. Iraqi ground forces could not seriously challenge the American ground forces because of their air supremacy. By mid-April 2003, US-British forces controlled all of Iraq's major cities and oil fields.

2006 Lebanon War


In the beginning of the 2006 Lebanon War Israel utilized an intensive aerial campaign aimed to eliminate Hezbollah and destroy its military, as stated by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. It also aimed to return kidnapped Israeli soldiers. The campaign started by destroying Lebanese infrastructure and Hezbollah targets. This continued during the 33 days of the war.

Taking into consideration the results of the 1991 and 2003 wars on Iraq and the 1999 war on the former Yugoslavia, the Israeli air force was unable to accomplish its objectives as completely. This partly results from the military doctrine that Hezbollah used in the war which proved effective. There have also been reports during the conflict that a Hezbollah-operated flying drone penetrated Israeli airspace, and returned to Lebanese territory.

See also

  • Aerial bombing of cities
    Aerial bombing of cities
    A species of strategic bombing, the aerial bombing of cities began in 1915 during World War I, grew to a vast scale in World War II, and continues to the present day. The development of aerial bombardment marked an increased capacity of armed forces to deliver explosive weapons in populated areas...

  • Air force
    Air force
    An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

  • Airlift
    Airlift
    Airlift is the act of transporting people or cargo from point to point using aircraft.Airlift may also refer to:*Airlift , a suction device for moving sand and silt underwater-See also:...

  • Airstrike
    Airstrike
    An air strike is an attack on a specific objective by military aircraft during an offensive mission. Air strikes are commonly delivered from aircraft such as fighters, bombers, ground attack aircraft, attack helicopters, and others...

  • Dogfight
    Dogfight
    A dogfight, or dog fight, is a form of aerial combat between fighter aircraft; in particular, combat of maneuver at short range, where each side is aware of the other's presence. Dogfighting first appeared during World War I, shortly after the invention of the airplane...

  • Loss of Strength Gradient
    Loss of Strength Gradient
    The Loss of Strength Gradient was devised by Kenneth Boulding in 1962. He argued that the amount of a nation’s military power that could be brought to bear in any part of the world depended on geographic distance. The Loss of Strength Gradient demonstrated, in graphical form, that the further away...

  • Timeline of military aviation
    Timeline of military aviation
    *2nd or 3rd century AD - A hot air balloon, the Kongming lantern, is invented in China and used for military communication.*1794 - French Aerostatic Corps use a tethered balloon at the Battle of Fleurus as a vantage point....


External links