Air power was the decisive factor that led to the military defeat of Nazi Germany. The Nazi’s lost most of the military aircraft of the Luftwaffe over Britain and the Americans were able to penetrate deep into Germany with strategic bombers. This enabled us to destroy the German military-industrial complex and win the war.
In more modern conflicts, air power has been responsible for the extremely low casualty rates of both Gulf Wars and the conflict in Afghanistan.
Air power shows no sign of becoming less important in the near future, but the nature of air power is constantly changing. The coordination of air and land capabilities has been taken to a level of previously unimaginable perfection by the United States military. The future of military aviation, however, may lead us to deploying less-expensive remotely piloted or even pilotless drone aircraft, which will lead to even further improvement in our casualty numbers.
The United States currently maintains the world lead in military aircraft technology. The best military aircraft in almost every category is a product of the United States military-industrial complex. Boeing and Lockheed-Martin have become more than manufacturers of military aircraft — they have become critical national resources for achieving American objectives across the globe.
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Further Reading on Military Aircraft
Essay on the growth of the importance of air power.
Essay on the use of air power in the 21st Century.
Essay on the development and history of spy planes, including the U-2 and SR-71.
Essay on the history of aircraft carriers.
A Half Century of U.S. Fighter Aircraft R&D.
This report examines the future of the U.S. military aircraft industrial base. It addresses specific questions that relate to the ability of the United States to preserve and retain adequate competition and innovation in the design and manufacture of its military aircraft. It also examines a broader set of issues related to changes under way in the U.S. military aircraft industry, in the sources of innovation, and in the types of capabilities DoD likely will need in order to adequately respond to a range of new and evolving threats in the future.
Throughout the post-war period, the Soviet military aircraft sector received resources sufficient to encourage development and allow production of the equipment needed to keep the Soviet Air Force’s inventory up to, and sometimes ahead of, world standards. Particularly with fighter and bomber development, rival designs were built and trialled, often with a series of prototypes engaged in competitive programmes. In some cases, designs were apparently based on western analogues, but in many projects the operational parameters that applied were derived from the unusal geophysical characteristics of ‘Mother Russia’ herself. The huge landmass of the Soviet Union required aircraft with long range. Many airfields were equipped with poorly surfaced runways, so robust landing gear was essential.
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100 different fighter planes with their technical information and picture
Military aircraft database from How to Make War
The website for Defence… and those who support Defence (Australian)
Non-Profit Organization to maintain and develop knowledge and skills in fighter aircraft tactics
The U.S. Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF)
Introduction to aircraft design, including military aircraft.
Extensive database of information on US Military Aviation.