Aerial warfare

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A United States Air Force F-4 Phantom II releasing aerial bombs over a bombing range in Bardenas Reales, Spain in 1986 F-4E-81st-tfs.jpg
A United States Air Force F-4 Phantom II releasing aerial bombs over a bombing range in Bardenas Reales, Spain in 1986

Aerial warfare is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare. Aerial warfare includes bombers attacking enemy installations or a concentration of enemy troops or strategic targets; fighter aircraft battling for control of airspace; attack aircraft engaging in close air support against ground targets; naval aviation flying against sea and nearby land targets; gliders, helicopters and other aircraft to carry airborne forces such as paratroopers; aerial refueling tankers to extend operation time or range; and military transport aircraft to move cargo and personnel. [1] Historically, military aircraft have included lighter-than-air balloons carrying artillery observers; lighter-than-air airships for bombing cities; various sorts of reconnaissance, surveillance and early warning aircraft carrying observers, cameras and radar equipment; torpedo bombers to attack enemy shipping; and military air-sea rescue aircraft for saving downed airmen. Modern aerial warfare includes missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Surface forces are likely to respond to enemy air activity with anti-aircraft warfare.

Contents

History

World War I fighter planes over Europe, 1915-1918 Aerial dogfight (13960870631).jpg
World War I fighter planes over Europe, 1915–1918

The history of aerial warfare began in ancient times, with the use of man-carrying kites in Ancient China. In the third century it progressed to balloon warfare.

Airplanes were put to use for war starting in 1911, initially for aerial reconnaissance, and then for aerial combat to shoot down the enemy reconnaissance planes. Aircraft continued to carry out these roles during World War I, where the use of planes and zeppelins for strategic bombing also emerged.

During World War II, the use of strategic bombing increased, while airborne forces, missiles, and early precision-guided munitions were introduced.

Ballistic missiles became of key importance during the Cold War, were armed with nuclear warheads, and were stockpiled by the United States and the Soviet Union to deter each other from using them.

Aerial reconnaissance

Aerial reconnaissance is reconnaissance for a military or strategic purpose that is conducted using reconnaissance aircraft. This role can fulfil a variety of requirements, including the collection of imagery intelligence, observation of enemy maneuvers and artillery spotting.

Air combat manoeuvring

Air combat manoeuvring (also known as ACM or dogfighting) is the tactical art of moving, turning and situating a fighter aircraft in order to attain a position from which an attack can be made on another aircraft. It relies on offensive and defensive basic fighter manoeuvring (BFM) to gain an advantage over an aerial opponent.

Airborne forces

Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and "dropped" into battle, typically by parachute. Thus, they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have the capability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning. The formations are limited only by the number and size of their aircraft, so given enough capacity a huge force can appear "out of nowhere" in minutes, an action referred to as vertical envelopment .

Conversely, airborne forces typically lack the supplies and equipment for prolonged combat operations, and are therefore more suited for airhead operations than for long-term occupation; furthermore, parachute operations are particularly sensitive to adverse weather conditions. Advances in helicopter technology since World War II have brought increased flexibility to the scope of airborne operations, and air assaults have largely replaced large-scale parachute operations, and (almost) completely replaced combat glider operations.

Airstrike

An airstrike or air strike [2] is an offensive operation carried out by attack aircraft. Air strikes are commonly delivered from aircraft such as fighters, bombers, ground attack aircraft, and attack helicopters. The official definition includes all sorts of targets, including enemy air targets, but in popular use the term is usually narrowed to a tactical (small-scale) attack on a ground or naval objective. Weapons used in an airstrike can range from machine gun bullets and missiles to various types of bombs. It is also commonly referred to as an air raid.

In close air support, air strikes are usually controlled by trained observers for coordination with friendly ground troops in a manner derived from artillery tactics.

Strategic bombing

Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying their morale or their economic ability to produce and transport materiel to the theatres of military operations, or both. It is a systematically organized and executed attack from the air which can utilize strategic bombers, long- or medium-range missiles, or nuclear-armed fighter-bomber aircraft to attack targets deemed vital to the enemy's war-making capability.

Anti-aircraft warfare

Anti-aircraft warfare or counter-air defence is defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." [3] They include ground and air-based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures (e.g. barrage balloons). It may be used to protect naval, ground, and air forces in any location. However, for most countries the main effort has tended to be 'homeland defence'. NATO refers to airborne air defence as counter-air and naval air defence as anti-aircraft warfare. Missile defence is an extension of air defence as are initiatives to adapt air defence to the task of intercepting any projectile in flight.

Missiles

In modern usage, a missile is a self-propelled precision-guided munition system, as opposed to an unguided self-propelled munition, referred to as a rocket (although these too can also be guided). Missiles have four system components: targeting and/or missile guidance, flight system, engine, and warhead. Missiles come in types adapted for different purposes: surface-to-surface and air-to-surface missiles (ballistic, cruise, anti-ship, anti-tank, etc.), surface-to-air missiles (and anti-ballistic), air-to-air missiles, and anti-satellite weapons. All known existing missiles are designed to be propelled during powered flight by chemical reactions inside a rocket engine, jet engine, or other type of engine.[ citation needed ] Non-self-propelled airborne explosive devices are generally referred to as shells and usually have a shorter range than missiles.

In ordinary British-English usage predating guided weapons, a missile is "any thrown object", such as objects thrown at players by rowdy spectators at a sporting event. [4]

UAVs

The advent of the unmanned aerial vehicle has dramatically revolutionized aerial warfare [5] with multiple nations developing and/or purchasing UAV fleets. Several benchmarks have already occurred, including a UAV-fighter jet dogfight, probes of adversary air defense with UAVs, replacement of an operational flight wing's aircraft with UAVs, control of UAVs qualifying the operator for 'combat' status, UAV-control from the other side of the world, jamming and/or data-hijacking of UAVs in flight, as well as proposals to transfer fire authority to AI aboard a UAV. [6] UAVs have quickly evolved from surveillance to combat roles.

The growing capability of UAVs has thrown into question the survivability and capability of manned fighter jets. [7]

See also

Notes

  1. See John Andreas Olsen, ed., A History of Air Warfare (2010) for global coverage since 1900.
  2. air strike- DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms Archived June 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. AAP-6
  4. Guardian newspaper: "Emmanuel Eboué pelted with missiles while playing for Galatasaray" Archived 2017-03-05 at the Wayback Machine Example of ordinary English usage. In this case the missiles were bottles and cigarette lighters
  5. "How robot drones revolutionized the face of warfare". CNN. 27 July 2009. Archived from the original on 17 November 2012.
  6. "072309kp1.pdf" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
  7. "Drone Planes: Are Fighter Pilots Obsolete?". ABC News. 24 July 2009. Archived from the original on 26 March 2018.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bomber</span> Heavy ground attack aircraft

A bomber is a military combat aircraft designed to attack ground and naval targets by dropping air-to-ground weaponry, launching torpedoes, or deploying air-launched cruise missiles. The first use of bombs dropped from an aircraft occurred in the Italo-Turkish War, with the first major deployments coming in the First World War and Second World War by all major airforces causing devastating damage to cities, towns, and rural areas. The first purpose built bombers were the Italian Caproni Ca 30 and British Bristol T.B.8, both of 1913. Some bombers were decorated with nose art or victory markings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fighter aircraft</span> Military aircraft for air-to-air combat

Fighter aircraft are fixed-wing military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat. In military conflict, the role of fighter aircraft is to establish air superiority of the battlespace. Domination of the airspace above a battlefield permits bombers and attack aircraft to engage in tactical and strategic bombing of enemy targets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Strategic bombing</span> Systematic aerial attacks to destroy infrastructure and morale

Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying its morale, its economic ability to produce and transport materiel to the theatres of military operations, or both. It is a systematically organized and executed attack from the air which can utilize strategic bombers, long- or medium-range missiles, or nuclear-armed fighter-bomber aircraft to attack targets deemed vital to the enemy's war-making capability. The term terror bombing is used to describe the strategic bombing of civilian targets without military value, in the hope of damaging an enemy's morale.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military aircraft</span> Aircraft designed or utilized for use in or support of military operations

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anti-aircraft warfare</span> Measures to combat enemy aerial forces

Anti-aircraft warfare, counter-air or air defence forces is the battlespace response to aerial warfare, defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action". It includes surface based, subsurface, and air-based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements, and passive measures. It may be used to protect naval, ground, and air forces in any location. However, for most countries, the main effort has tended to be homeland defence. NATO refers to airborne air defence as counter-air and naval air defence as anti-aircraft warfare. Missile defence is an extension of air defence, as are initiatives to adapt air defence to the task of intercepting any projectile in flight.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Airstrike</span> Attack on a specific objective by military aircraft during an offensive mission

An airstrike, air strike, or air raid is an offensive operation carried out by aircraft. Air strikes are delivered from aircraft such as blimps, balloons, fighter aircraft, attack aircraft, bombers, attack helicopters, and drones. The official definition includes all sorts of targets, including enemy air targets, but in popular usage the term is usually narrowed to a tactical (small-scale) attack on a ground or naval objective as opposed to a larger, more general attack such as carpet bombing. Weapons used in an airstrike can range from direct-fire aircraft-mounted cannons and machine guns, rockets and air-to-surface missiles, to various types of aerial bombs, glide bombs, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and even directed-energy weapons such as laser weapons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Unmanned combat aerial vehicle</span> Unmanned aerial vehicle that is usually armed

An unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), also known as a combat drone, colloquially shortened as drone or battlefield UAV, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is used for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance and carries aircraft ordnance such as missiles, ATGMs, and/or bombs in hardpoints for drone strikes. These drones are usually under real-time human control, with varying levels of autonomy. Unlike unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aerial vehicles, UCAVs are used for both drone strikes and battlefield intelligence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses</span>

Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD, pronounced ), also known in the United States as "Wild Weasel" and (initially) "Iron Hand" operations, are military actions to suppress enemy surface-based air defenses, including not only surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) but also interrelated systems such as early-warning radar and command, control and communication (C3) functions, while also marking other targets to be destroyed by an air strike. Suppression can be accomplished both by physically destroying the systems or by disrupting and deceiving them through electronic warfare. In modern warfare, SEAD missions can constitute as much as 30% of all sorties launched in the first week of combat and continue at a reduced rate through the rest of a campaign. One quarter of American combat sorties in recent conflicts have been SEAD missions. Despite generally being associated with aircraft, SEAD missions may be performed using any means, including through actions by ground forces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Close air support</span> Air missions coordinated with ground combat

In military tactics, close air support (CAS) is defined as aerial warfare actions—often air-to-ground actions such as strafes or airstrikes—by military aircraft against hostile targets in close proximity to friendly forces. A form of fire support, CAS requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of all forces involved. CAS may be conducted using aerial bombs, glide bombs, missiles, rockets, autocannons, machine guns, and even directed-energy weapons such as lasers.

The history of aerial warfare began in ancient times, with the use of kites in China. In the third century, it progressed to balloon warfare. Airplanes were put to use for war starting in 1911, initially for reconnaissance, and then for aerial combat to shoot down the recon planes. The use of planes for strategic bombing emerged during World War II. Also during World War II, Nazi Germany developed many missile and precision-guided munition systems, including the first cruise missile, the first short-range ballistic missile, the first guided surface-to-air missiles, and the first anti-ship missiles. Ballistic missiles became of key importance during the Cold War, were armed with nuclear warheads, and were stockpiled by the superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union – to deter each other from using them.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military aviation</span> Use of aircraft by armed forces in combat or other military capacity

Military aviation comprises military aircraft and other flying machines for the purposes of conducting or enabling aerial warfare, including national airlift capacity to provide logistical supply to forces stationed in a war theater or along a front. Airpower includes the national means of conducting such warfare, including the intersection of transport and warcraft. Military aircraft include bombers, fighters, transports, trainer aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ukrainian Air Force</span> Aerial warfare branch of Ukraines armed forces

The Ukrainian Air Force is the air force of Ukraine and one of the five branches of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Its headquarters are in the city of Vinnytsia. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, many aircraft were left in Ukrainian territory. Ever since, the Ukrainian Air Force has been downsizing and upgrading its forces. The main inventory of the air force still consists of Soviet-made aircraft. As of 2007, 36,300 personnel and 225 aircraft were in service in the Ukrainian Air Force and Air Defense forces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Industrial warfare</span> Impact of the Industrial Age on warfare

Industrial warfare is a period in the history of warfare ranging roughly from the early 19th century and the start of the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of the Atomic Age, which saw the rise of nation-states, capable of creating and equipping large armies, navies, and air forces, through the process of industrialization.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of unmanned aerial vehicles</span>

UAVs include both autonomous drones and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs). A UAV is capable of controlled, sustained level flight and is powered by a jet, reciprocating, or electric engine. In the twenty first century technology reached a point of sophistication that the UAV is now being given a greatly expanded role in many areas of aviation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of unmanned combat aerial vehicles</span>

The history of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) is closely tied to the general history of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). While the technology dates back at least as far as the 1940s, common usage in live operations came in the 2000s. UCAVs have now become an important part of modern warfare, including in the Syrian civil war, the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anti-surface warfare</span> Naval combat on the open ocean

Anti-surface warfare is the branch of naval warfare concerned with the suppression of surface combatants. More generally, it is any weapons, sensors, or operations intended to attack or limit the effectiveness of an adversary's surface ships. Before the adoption of the submarine and naval aviation, all naval warfare consisted of anti-surface warfare. The distinct concept of an anti-surface warfare capability emerged after World War II, and literature on the subject as a distinct discipline is inherently dominated by the dynamics of the Cold War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military helicopter</span> Helicopter which is built or converted for use by military forces

A military helicopter is a helicopter that is either specifically built or converted for use by military forces. A military helicopter's mission is a function of its design or conversion. The most common use of military helicopters is transport of troops, but transport helicopters can be modified or converted to perform other missions such as combat search and rescue (CSAR), medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), airborne command post, or even armed with weapons for attacking ground targets. Specialized military helicopters are intended to conduct specific missions. Examples of specialized military helicopters are attack helicopters, observation helicopters and anti-submarine warfare helicopters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aerial reconnaissance</span> Military exploration and observation by means of aircraft or other airborne platforms

Aerial reconnaissance is reconnaissance for a military or strategic purpose that is conducted using reconnaissance aircraft. The role of reconnaissance can fulfil a variety of requirements including artillery spotting, the collection of imagery intelligence, and the observation of enemy maneuvers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Air warfare of World War II</span> Overview of air warfare in World War II

Air warfare was a major component in all theaters of World War II and, together with anti-aircraft warfare, consumed a large fraction of the industrial output of the major powers. Germany and Japan depended on air forces that were closely integrated with land and naval forces; the Axis powers downplayed the advantage of fleets of strategic bombers and were late in appreciating the need to defend against Allied strategic bombing. By contrast, Britain and the United States took an approach that greatly emphasized strategic bombing and tactical control of the battlefield by air as well as adequate air defenses. Both Britain and the U.S. built substantially larger strategic forces of large, long-range bombers. Simultaneously, they built tactical air forces that could win air superiority over the battlefields, thereby giving vital assistance to ground troops. The U.S. and Royal Navy also built a powerful naval-air component based on aircraft carriers, as did the Japanese; these played the central role in the war at sea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Air force</span> Military branch that primarily conducts aerial warfare

An air force – in the broadest sense – is the national military branch 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 or navy. Typically, air forces are responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out strategic and tactical bombing missions, and providing support to land and naval forces often in the form of aerial reconnaissance and close air support.

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