An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or other branch. Typically, air forces are responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out strategic and tactical bombing missions and providing support to surface forces.
The term "air force" may also refer to a tactical air force or numbered air force, which is an operational formation either within a national air force or comprising several air components from allied nations. Air forces typically consist of a combination of fighters, bombers, helicopters, transport planes and other aircraft.
Many air forces are also responsible for operations of military space, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), and communications equipment. Some air forces may command and control other air defence assets such as antiaircraft artillery, surface-to-air missiles, or anti-ballistic missile warning networks and defensive systems. Some nations, principally Russia, the former Soviet Union and countries who modelled their militaries along Soviet lines, have an Air Defence Force which is organizationally separate from their air force.
In addition to pilots, air forces have ground support staff who support the aircrew. In a similar manner to civilian airlines, there are supporting ground crew as pilots cannot fly without the assistance of other personnel such as engineers, loadmasters, fuel technicians and mechanics. However, some supporting personnel such as airfield defence troops, weapons engineers and air intelligence staff do not have equivalent roles in civilian organizations.
Famous quotes containing the words air and/or force:
“It so happened that, a few weeks later, Old Ernie [Ernest Hemingway] himself was using my room in New York as a hide-out from literary columnists and reporters during one of his rare stopover visits between Africa and Key West. On such all-too-rare occasions he lends an air of virility to my dainty apartment which I miss sorely after he has gone and all the furniture has been repaired.”
—Robert Benchley (18891945)
“While I shall not vote for the prohibition amendment, I would like to see a good, wholesome expression of temperance sentiment.... Personally I do not resort to forcenot even the force of lawto advance moral reforms. I prefer education, argument, persuasion, and above all the influence of exampleof fashion.”
—Rutherford Birchard Hayes (18221893)