Airpower – the decisive gamechanger

Airpower – the decisive gamechanger

The presence of aircraft on the battlefield has become an increasingly common presence since it’s origins in the First World War. With the growing availability of aircraft as well as the utility of these vehicles, their impact on the battlefield has grown far heavier than what some would initially have thought.

Aircraft now have a presence on the battlefield that’s decisive and, if used right, a gamechanger capable of turning the tide of almost any engagement. If one side has air superiority or even air supremacy they will often emerge as the victor, or at least deny the enemy a lot of advantages.

F-16 Fighting Falcon loaded with laser-guided bombs and air to air missiles

An example of this was during the Gulf War air campaign in 1991. During a time span of one week, Coalition forces were able to decisively destroy Iraqi air defenses, air force, and ground elements, paving the way for the liberation of Kuwait.

Even with the presence of Anti-air artillery and SAM batteries, airpower is still a deadly weapon. SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) and DEAD (Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses) missions are able to destroy SAM networks, neutralize radar sites, and obliterate early warning systems. This allows for aircraft to remain dangerous on the battlefield.

2K12 KUB SAM system

Once air superiority or air supremacy has been gained, close air support missions via attack aircraft and helicopters can be flown regularly, similar to the Gulf War where allegedly 1,000 air sorties were flown each day.

The lack of air superiority has a detrimental effect as well. For a force that has lost the air war, each move and each battle comes with great risk of being overwhelmed and bombed-out by their enemy aircraft. It limits your movements, opens your troops to greater harm, and will lessen the chances of you winning any battle.

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