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A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type.[1] Military aircraft
Military aircraft
can be either combat or non-combat:

Combat aircraft are designed to destroy enemy equipment using their own aircraft ordnance.[1] Combat aircraft are normally developed and procured only by military forces. Non-combat aircraft are not designed for combat as their primary function, but may carry weapons for self-defense. These mainly operate in support roles, and may be developed by either military forces or civilian organizations.

Contents

1 History 2 Combat aircraft

2.1 Fighter aircraft 2.2 Bomber
Bomber
aircraft 2.3 Attack aircraft 2.4 Electronic warfare
Electronic warfare
aircraft 2.5 Maritime patrol aircraft 2.6 Multirole combat aircraft

3 Non-combat aircraft

3.1 Military transport aircraft 3.2 Airborne early warning
Airborne early warning
and control 3.3 Reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft 3.4 Experimental aircraft

4 See also 5 References

History[edit]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2017)

In 1783, when the first practical aircraft (hot-air and hydrogen balloons) were established, they were quickly adopted for military duties.[2] Combat aircraft[edit]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2012)

Combat aircraft, or "Warplanes", are divided broadly into multi-role, fighters, bombers, attackers, and electronic warfare support. Variations exist between them, including fighter-bombers, such as the MiG-23 ground-attack aircraft and the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2
Ilyushin Il-2
Sturmovik. Also included among combat aircraft are long-range maritime patrol aircraft, such as the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod
Hawker Siddeley Nimrod
and the S-3 Viking
S-3 Viking
that are often equipped to attack with anti-ship missiles and anti-submarine weapons. Fighter aircraft[edit]

A USAF
USAF
F-22A Raptor
F-22A Raptor
firing an AIM-120 air-to-air missile

Main articles: Fighter aircraft, Air superiority fighter, Interceptor aircraft, Fighter-bomber, and Strike fighter The primary role of fighters is destroying enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat, as part of both offensive and defensive counter air operations. Many fighters also possess a degree of ground attack capability, allowing them to perform surface attack and close air support missions. In addition to their counter air duties they are tasked to perform escort mission for bombers or other aircraft. Fighters are capable of carrying a variety of weapons, including machine guns, cannons, rockets, guided missiles, and bombs. Many modern fighters can attack enemy fighters from a great distance, before the enemy even sees or detects them. Examples of fighters include the F-22 Raptor, F-15 Eagle, and Su-27.

Bomber
Bomber
aircraft[edit]

A USAF
USAF
B-2A Spirit

Main articles: Bomber, Strategic bomber, Heavy bomber, Medium bomber, and Interdictor Bombers are normally larger, heavier, and less maneuverable than fighter aircraft. They are capable of carrying large payloads of bombs, torpedoes or cruise missiles. Bombers are used almost exclusively for ground attacks and not fast or agile enough to take on enemy fighters head-to-head. A few have a single engine and require one pilot to operate and others have two or more engines and require crews of two or more. A limited number of bombers, such as the B-2 Spirit, have stealth capabilities that keep them from being detected by enemy radar. An example of a conventional modern bomber would be the B-52 Stratofortress. An example of a World War II
World War II
bomber would be a B-17 Flying Fortress. Bombers include light bombers, medium bombers, heavy bombers, dive bombers, and torpedo bombers.

Attack aircraft[edit]

A USAF
USAF
A-10 Thunderbolt II
A-10 Thunderbolt II
firing an AGM-65

Main articles: Attack aircraft
Attack aircraft
and Gunship Attack aircraft
Attack aircraft
can be used to provide support for friendly ground troops. Some are able to carry conventional or nuclear weapons far behind enemy lines to strike priority ground targets. Attack helicopters attack enemy armor and provide close air support for ground troops. An example historical ground-attack aircraft is the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2
Ilyushin Il-2
Shturmovik. Several types of transport airplanes have been armed with sideways firing weapons as gunships for ground attack. These include the AC-47
AC-47
and AC-130
AC-130
aircraft.

Electronic warfare
Electronic warfare
aircraft[edit]

A USAF
USAF
EF-111A Raven

Main article: Electronic-warfare aircraft An electronic warfare aircraft is a military aircraft equipped for electronic warfare (EW) - i.e. degrading the effectiveness of enemy radar and radio systems. They are generally modified versions of other pre-existing aircraft. A recent example would be the Boeing
Boeing
EA-18G Growler, which is a modified version of the Boeing
Boeing
F/A-18F Super Hornet.[3]

Maritime patrol aircraft[edit]

A USN P-8 Poseidon

Main article: Maritime patrol aircraft A maritime patrol aircraft fixed-wing military aircraft designed to operate for long durations over water in maritime patrol roles—in particular anti-submarine, anti-ship and search and rescue. Some patrol aircraft were designed for this purpose, like the Kawasaki P-1.[4] Many others are modified designs of pre-existing aircraft, such as the Boeing
Boeing
P-8 Poseidon, which is based on the Boeing
Boeing
737-800 airliner.[5]

Multirole combat aircraft[edit]

A USAF
USAF
F-15E Strike Eagle
F-15E Strike Eagle
dropping a PGB

Main articles: Multirole combat aircraft, Fighter-bomber, and Strike fighter Many combat aircraft today have a multirole ability. Normally only applying to fixed-wing aircraft, this term signifies that the plane in question can be a fighter or a bomber, depending on what the mission calls for. An example of a multirole design is the F-15E Strike Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, F-35 Lightning II. A World War II
World War II
example would be the P-38 Lightning.[6]

Non-combat aircraft[edit]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2012)

Non-combat roles of military aircraft include search and rescue, reconnaissance, observation/surveillance, Airborne Early Warning and Control, transport, training, and aerial refueling. Many civil aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary wing, have been produced in separate models for military use, such as the civilian Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-3
airliner, which became the military C-47
C-47
Skytrain, and British "Dakota" transport planes, and decades later, the USAF's AC-47 aerial gunships. Even the fabric-covered two-seat Piper J3 Cub had a military version. Gliders and balloons have also been used as military aircraft; for example, balloons were used for observation during the American Civil War
American Civil War
and during World War I, and military gliders were used during World War II
World War II
to deliver ground troops in airborne assaults. Military transport aircraft[edit]

A USAF
USAF
C-17A Globemaster III
C-17A Globemaster III
military transport aircraft

Main article: Military transport aircraft Military transport (logistics) aircraft are primarily used to transport troops and war supplies. Cargo can be attached to pallets, which are easily loaded, secured for flight, and quickly unloaded for delivery. Cargo also may be discharged from flying aircraft on parachutes, eliminating the need for landing. Also included in this category are aerial tankers; these planes can refuel other aircraft while in flight. An example of a transport aircraft is the C-17 Globemaster III. A World War II
World War II
example would be the C-47. An example of a tanker craft would be the KC-135 Stratotanker. Helicopters and gliders can transport troops and supplies to areas where other aircraft would be unable to land. Calling a military aircraft a "cargo plane" is incorrect, because military transport planes also carry paratroopers and other soldiers. Airborne early warning
Airborne early warning
and control[edit]

A USAF
USAF
E-3 Sentry

Main article: Airborne early warning
Airborne early warning
and control An airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft, ships and ground vehicles at long ranges and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes. AEW&C units are also used to carry out surveillance, including over ground targets and frequently perform C2BM (command and control, battle management) functions similar to an Airport Traffic Controller given military command over other forces. Used at a high altitude, the radars on the aircraft allow the operators to distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft hundreds of miles away.

An Indian Air Force Beriev A-50EI
Beriev A-50EI
Mainstay

AEW&C aircraft are used for both defensive and offensive air operations, and are to the NATO and USA forces trained or integrated Air Forces what the Command Information Center is to a Navy Warship, plus a highly mobile and powerful radar platform. The system is used offensively to direct fighters to their target locations, and defensively in order to counterattacks by enemy forces, both air and ground. So useful is the advantage of command and control from a high altitude, the United States Navy
United States Navy
operates AEW&C aircraft off its Supercarriers to augment and protect its carrier Command Information Centers (CICs). AEW&C is also known by the older terms "airborne early warning" (AEW) and "airborne warning and control system" (AWACS, /ˈeɪwæks/ ay-waks) although AWACS is the name of a specific system currently used by NATO and the USAF
USAF
and is often used in error to describe similar systems. Reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft[edit]

A RAF Raytheon Sentinel
Raytheon Sentinel
with a radar pod

Main articles: Reconnaissance aircraft
Reconnaissance aircraft
and Surveillance aircraft Reconnaissance aircraft
Reconnaissance aircraft
are primarily used to gather intelligence. They are equipped with cameras and other sensors. These aircraft may be specially designed or may be modified from a basic fighter or bomber type. This role is increasingly being filled by satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Surveillance and observation aircraft use radar and other sensors for battlefield surveillance, airspace surveillance, maritime patrol and artillery spotting. They include modified civil aircraft designs, moored balloons and UAVs. Experimental aircraft[edit] Main article: Experimental aircraft Experimental aircraft
Experimental aircraft
are designed in order to test advanced aerodynamic, structural, avionic, or propulsion concepts. These are usually well instrumented, with performance data telemetered on radio-frequency data links to ground stations located at the test ranges where they are flown. An example of an experimental aircraft is the Bristol 188. See also[edit]

List of aircraft List of fighter aircraft

References[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Military aircraft.

^ a b Gunston 1986, p. 274 ^ Guilmartin, John F., Jr. "Military Aircraft." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d. Web. 11 May 2015 (March 2015) ^ EA-18G Growler Boeing
Boeing
Retrieved January 20, 2016 ^ Kawasaki P-1
Kawasaki P-1
Kawasaki Aerospace Company
Kawasaki Aerospace Company
Retrieved January 20, 2017 ^ P-8 Poseidon
P-8 Poseidon
Boeing
Boeing
Retrieved January 20, 2017 ^ Dwyer, Larry (17 September 1997). "Lockheed P38 Lightning". The Aviation History Online Museum

Gunston, Bill (1986). Jane's Aerospace Dictionary. London, England: Jane's Publishing Company Limited. ISBN 0-7106-0365-7. 

v t e

Modern military aircraft types and roles

Types

Balloon Fixed-wing Glider Helicopter Unmanned (UAV)

Roles

Combat

Attack

Gunship

Bomber

Strategic Penetrator

Electronic warfare
Electronic warfare
(EW) Fighter

Air superiority Interceptor

Maritime patrol Multi-role

Interdictor Fighter-bomber Strike fighter

Non-combat

Early warning and control (AEW&C) Experimental Reconnaissance Surveillance Tanker Trainer Transport

Authority control

GND: 40393

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