Air Power Anatomy

Authored by: Benjamin S. Lambeth

Routledge Handbook of Air Power

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138632608
eBook ISBN: 9781315208138
Adobe ISBN:


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The chapter describes the essence of air power by focusing on the transformation that took place in its character and capability from the mid-1970s onward. The author asserts that Western air power has become the swing factor in an ever-widening variety of circumstances because it now enjoys both freedom from attack and freedom to attack. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commanders can now achieve strategic effects from the earliest moments of a campaign by striking at key targets simultaneously rather than sequentially. They also can attack enemy ground forces without having to engage them in close combat by striking from standoff range to deny them the ability to inflict casualties on friendly ground troops. Increased weapon accuracy further allows military forces to achieve the effects of massing without having to mass. These new capabilities have occasioned an ongoing paradigm shift in modern warfare that promises to be of greater historical significance than was the introduction of the tank at the start of the last century. Air power has now surpassed more traditional surface forces in its relative ability to achieve decisive results, due not only to its recently gained advantages in stealth, all-weather precision, and information dominance, but also to its long-abiding signature characteristics of speed, reach, ubiquity, and flexibility.

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