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.
USAF B-2 Spirit stealth strategic bomber
The term “air force” may also refer to a tactical air force or numbered air force, which is an operational formation within a national air force. 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.
* * * * *
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation supermaneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superior fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare and signals intelligence roles. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. is the prime contractor and is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems and final assembly of the F-22. Program partner Boeing Defense, Space & Security provides the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems.
The aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 during the years prior to formally entering USAF service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Despite a protracted and costly development period, the United States Air Force considers the F-22 a critical component of U.S. tactical air power, and claims that the aircraft is unmatched by any known or projected fighter, while Lockheed Martin claims that the Raptor’s combination of stealth, speed, agility, precision and situational awareness, combined with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities, makes it the best overall fighter in the world today.Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, former Chief of the Australian Defence Force, said in 2004 that the “F-22 will be the most outstanding fighter plane ever built.”