Concept

Military aviation

Summary
Military aviation comprises military aircraft and other flying machines for the purposes of conducting or enabling aerial warfare, including national airlift (air cargo) capacity to provide logistical supply to forces stationed in a war theater or along a front. Airpower includes the national means of conducting such warfare, including the intersection of transport and warcraft. Military aircraft include bombers, fighters, transports, trainer aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft. The first military uses of aviation involved lighter-than-air balloons. During the Battle of Fleurus in 1794, the French observation balloon l'Entreprenant was used to monitor Austrian troop movements. The use of lighter-than-air aircraft in warfare became prevalent in the 19th century, including regular use in the American Civil War. Lighter-than-air military aviation persisted until shortly after World War II, gradually being withdrawn from various roles as heavier-than-air aircraft improved. Heavier-than-air aircraft were recognized as having military applications early on, despite resistance from traditionalists and the severe limitations of early aircraft. The U.S. Army Signal Corps purchased a Wright Model A on 2 August 1909 which became the first military aircraft in history. In 1911, the Italians used a variety of aircraft types in reconnaissance, photo-reconnaissance, and bombing roles during the Italo-Turkish War. On October 23, 1911, an Italian pilot, Captain Carlo Piazza, flew over Turkish lines on the world's first aerial reconnaissance mission, and on November 1, the first ever aerial bomb was dropped by Sottotenente Giulio Gavotti, on Turkish troops in Libya, from an early model of Etrich Taube aircraft. The Turks, lacking anti-aircraft weapons, were the first to shoot down an airplane by rifle fire. The earliest military role filled by aircraft was reconnaissance, however, by the end of World War I, military aviation had rapidly embraced many specialized roles, such as artillery spotting, air superiority, bombing, ground attack, and anti-submarine patrols.
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