History and Modern Developments of Air Power
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The development of warfare through history can be seen as changes brought on by in part by two main catalysts: advancing technology and changing ideas. A nation which best recognizes and utilizes these changes will be the most successful in future conflicts. Modern military forces of the world have been shaped by these changes for centuries, but one of the main branches of the military, air power, has been created and developed entirely within this century. The airplane started as a shaky experiment by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and within the century it became one of the most powerful military forces in the world. Through history, the development of the modern- day roles of aircraft- reconnaissance, close air support, and air superiority (strategic bombing and fighter defense) can be traced. History also points out the dominance of quality air power over quantity air power, and therefore the trend of most modern air corps to focus on quality, rather than quantity, built equipment. ('Air corps' is used in this paper to refer to all types of military aviation instead of the term 'air forces' which means a single branch of military exclusive of army and naval aviation). The vulnerability of aircraft at their bases has been affected by new ideas concerning dispersed operations and the technology which can allow aircraft bases to be more flexible. Modern technology has also created some impressive new capabilities of modern aircraft.