Military organization that has the primary responsibility for conducting air warfare. The air force must gain control of the air, support ground forces (e.g., by attacking enemy ground forces), and accomplish strategic-bombing objectives. Its basic weapons platforms are fighters, bombers, attack aircraft, and early warning and control aircraft. Since the mid-20th century, some air forces have also been responsible for land-based nuclear missiles as well as nuclear-armed bombers. The army and naval branches of a state's armed forces may also operate aircraft.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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