A reconnaissance aircraft (colloquially, a spy plane) is a military aircraft designed or adapted to perform aerial reconnaissance with roles including collection of imagery intelligence (including using photography), signals intelligence, as well as measurement and signature intelligence. Modern technology has also enabled some aircraft and UAVs to carry out real-time surveillance in addition to general intelligence gathering.
Before the development of devices such as radar, military forces relied on reconnaissance aircraft for visual observation and scouting of enemy movement. An example is the PBY Catalina maritime patrol flying boat used by the Allies in World War II: a flight of U.S. Navy Catalinas spotted part of the Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island, beginning the Battle of Midway.
Prior to the 20th century machines for powered and controllable flight were not available to military forces, but some attempts were made to use lighter than air craft. During the Napoleonic Wars and Franco-Prussian War, balloons were used for aerial reconnaissance by the French.
In World War I, aircraft were deployed during early phases of battle in reconnaissance roles as 'eyes of the army' to aid ground forces.Aerial reconnaissance from this time through 1945 was mostly carried out by adapted versions of standard fighters and bombers equipped with film cameras. Photography became the primary and best-known method of intelligence collection for reconnaissance aircraft by the end of World War II.
World War I also saw use of floatplanes to locate enemy warships. After the battle of Jutland demonstrated the limitations of seaplane tenders, provisions were made for capital ships to carry, launch, and recover observation seaplanes. These seaplanes could scout for enemy warships beyond the visual range of the ship's lookouts, and could spot the fall of shot during long range artillery engagements. Observation seaplanes were replaced by helicopters after World War II.
After World War II and during the Cold War the United States developed several dedicated reconnaissance aircraft designs, including the U-2 and SR-71, to monitor the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union.Other types of reconnaissance aircraft were built for specialized roles in signals intelligence and electronic monitoring, such as the RB-47, Boeing RC-135 and the Ryan Model 147 drones.
Since the Cold War much of the strategic reconnaissance aircraft role has passed over to satellites,and the tactical role to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This has been proven in successful uses by Israel, and by the United States in Desert Storm operations.
A surveillance aircraft is an aircraft used for surveillance. They are operated by military forces and other government agencies in roles such as intelligence gathering, battlefield surveillance, airspace surveillance, reconnaissance, observation, border patrol and fishery protection. This article concentrates on aircraft used in those roles, rather than for traffic monitoring, law enforcement and similar activities.
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:
In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces, terrain, and other activities.
A maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), also known as a patrol aircraft, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, or by the older American term patrol bomber, is a fixed-wing aircraft designed to operate for long durations over water in maritime patrol roles — in particular anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-ship warfare (AShW), and search and rescue (SAR).
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. 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.
World War I was the first major conflict involving the large-scale use of aircraft. Tethered observation balloons had already been employed in several wars, and would be used extensively for artillery spotting. Germany employed Zeppelins for reconnaissance over the North Sea and Baltic and also for strategic bombing raids over Britain and the Eastern Front.
Naval aviation is the application of military air power by navies, whether from warships that embark aircraft, or land bases.
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.
The Indian Ocean raid, also known as Operation C or Battle of Ceylon in Japanese, was a naval sortie carried out by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) from 31 March to 10 April 1942. Japanese aircraft carriers under Admiral Chūichi Nagumo struck Allied shipping and naval bases around Ceylon, but failed to locate and destroy the bulk of the British Eastern Fleet. The Eastern Fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir James Somerville, was forewarned by intelligence and sailed from its bases prior to the raid; its attempt to attack the Japanese was frustrated by poor tactical intelligence.
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.
RAAF Base Rathmines is a heritage-listed former RAAF WWII seaplane base and now used as community venues, sports venues and a visitor attraction at Dorrington Road, Rathmines, City of Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia. It was in use as an RAAF base from 1939 to 1961. It is also known as Rathmines Park, former RAAF Seaplane Base, Flying Boat Base, Rathmines Aerodrome and Catalina Base. The property is owned by Australian Christadelphian Bible School, Disability Life Enrichment, Don Geddes Nursing Home and Lake Macquarie City Council. The remains of the former air base was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 25 November 2005.
The 11th Attack Squadron is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the 432d Wing Air Combat Command at Creech Air Force Base near Indian Springs, Nevada. It flies General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned aerial vehicles. In 1995 the 11th became the first Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) squadron in the Air Force.
A scout plane is type of surveillance aircraft, usually of single-engined, two/three seats, shipborne type, and used for the purpose of discovering an enemy position and directing artillery. Therefore, a scout plane is essentially a small naval aircraft, as distinguished from a tactical ground observation aircraft, a strategic reconnaissance "spyplane", or a large patrol flying boat.
The IAI Searcher is a reconnaissance UAV developed in Israel in the 1980s. In the following decade, it replaced the IMI Mastiff and IAI Scout UAVs then in service with the Israeli Army.
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.
The reconnaissance mission within the United States Marine Corps is divided into two distinct but complementary aspects; Marine Division Recon and Force Reconnaissance.
The Lockheed Aequare was an unmanned aerial vehicle developed by the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company for the United States Air Force. It was intended for launch from an F-4 Phantom II fighter-bomber, and would carry a remote sensor array and laser designator for use by the launching aircraft. The system was evaluated in the mid 1970s, but did not enter operational service.
Observation seaplanes are military aircraft with flotation devices allowing them to land on and take off from water. Their primary purpose was to observe and report enemy movements or to spot the fall of shot from naval artillery, but some were armed with machineguns or bombs. Their military usefulness extended from World War I through World War II. They were typically single-engine machines with catapult-launch capability and a crew of one, two or three. Most were designed to be carried aboard warships, but they also operated from seashore harbors.
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