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Military operations conducted by airplanes, helicopters, or other aircraft against aircraft or targets on the ground and in the water. Air warfare did not become important until World War I (1914–18). The British, French, German, Russian, and Italian armed forces had flying units, including biplanes armed with machine guns for dogfights with enemy fighter aircraft. Zeppelins and larger airplanes carried out bombing raids. The 1920s and '30s saw the development of the monoplane, the all-metal fuselage, and the aircraft carrier. During World War II (1939–45), the Battle of Britain was the first fought exclusively in the air, the Battle of the Coral Sea was the first between carrier-based aircraft, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the first use of nuclear-armed bombers. In the jet age, air power has continued to be used in strategic bombing of an enemy's home territory (as in the Vietnam War, 1965–74), destroying enemy air forces (as in the Arab-Israeli wars), attacking and defending carrier-based naval fleets (as in the Falkland Islands War, 1982), and supporting ground forces (as in the Persian Gulf War, 1990–91).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on air warfare, visit Britannica.com.
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