Air supremacy


Air supremacy

Air supremacy is the most favorable state of control of the air. It is defined by NATO and the United States Department of Defense as "that degree of air superiority wherein the opposing air force is incapable of effective interference."

There are normally thought to be three levels of control of the air. Air supremacy is the highest, meaning there is complete control of the skies. Air superiority is the next highest, which is being in a more favorable position than the opponent. Air parity is the lowest level of control, meaning control of the skies only above friendly troop positions.

For example, in World War II after the German attack into France, the German Luftwaffe had "air supremacy" over Western Europe. During the Battle of Britain it could only obtain air superiority when it appeared in force over a specific area. As the battle wore on, the British maintained strategic "air parity"—having control of the skies above Britain, but not the skies over continental Europe. As the war went on, the Allies gained air superiority, and eventually gained "air supremacy", such that the Luftwaffe could not effectively interfere with Allied land operations.

After the First World War, many theorists around the world began to consider the importance of air supremacy and air superiority. Most notable was the Italian general Giulio Douhet in his book "The Command of the Air". At the beginning of the Second World War, the main combatants took different views on the importance of air power. Adolf Hitler saw it as only a helpful tool to support the Wehrmacht, the German army. The Allied powers, however, saw it as being a more important part of warfare, specifically long-range strategic bombing which crippled Germany's industrial centers.

Today, air supremacy is a key first goal of United States military operations. This was demonstrated in the Gulf War when the Iraqi Air Force had been almost completely obliterated in the opening stages, losing most of their command and control capability, and aircraft, to precise, Coalition strikes as well as to Iraqi troop desertion to Iran. Meanwhile, the Iraqis shot down relatively small numbers of opposing American aircraft. Fact|date=March 2007

ee also

*Billy Mitchell

References

*Defense Technical Information Center [http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/data/a/00295.html]
*Australian Department of Defence [http://www.defence.gov.au/RAAF/organisation/info_on/operations/counter_air.htm]
*Encyclopedia Britannica [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-52979]
*Canadian forces aerospace doctrine [wps.cfc.forces.gc.ca/doctrine/aerospace.doc]


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Look at other dictionaries:

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