“A nation that trusts in its rights, instead of trusting its soldiers, deceives itself and prepares for its own downfall.”
The Tactical Air Bombardment
Surface attack missions are the offensive component of combat aviation. Powerful and invariably feared by those on land, rivers, and seas, attack aviation has been one of the greatest threats present in modern TO since the times of World War II. The air means provide those operating there an excellent condition for observation, search for targets, and intelligence, as well as a magnificent firing range for lethal and increasingly accurate aerial ammunition.
Air attack missions are classified into three distinct modalities, according to their purpose and the targets they seek. These modalities are Strategic Bombing, Battlefield Interdiction, and Close Air Support (CAS -Close Air Support), known as Coverage missions. Depending on the situation, these eminently offensive missions may be escorted by interceptor fighters to ensure their safety.
Strategic Bombing aims to attack the enemy’s ability to sustain the war by besieging its high-ranking industrial areas and logistical infrastructure, power plants, and large depots of fuel and ammunition. Often considered an independent campaign, Strategic Bombing missions do not interact with surface forces and are worth the best that military aviation has at their disposal, as they demand long-term missions over considerable distances, requiring aircraft with great autonomy and carrying capacity, being able to use ballistic and cruise missiles, with nuclear warheads or not.
It is the first phase of an air campaign and starts well before the ground forces take action, operating uninterruptedly until the end of the campaign, but its isolated action does not guarantee the final result, as the air forces are not able to occupy the ground, and its result can take a while to be felt on the battlefront if the confrontation is against a well-prepared opponent. Examples of Strategic Bombing we have in the allied incursions against Nazi Germany where Lancaster and B-17 bombers constantly harassed it. In Vietnam, we have the devastating Rolling Thunder missions and their B-52s, also heirlooms from World War II.
The Air Interdiction or Battlefield Interdiction (AI) missions aim to destroy, delay or disable enemy forces that are in front of the line of contact, seeking to harass them before they come into contact with friendly forces. They are conducted against high-value targets in the enemy’s rear areas, deepening the combat and preventing the enemy from intensifying pressure on the contact lines, through the destruction of their ammunition and fuel depots, bridges, roads, and railway lines, logistic convoys, and command and control centers, as well as vital communication networks and other high-value targets.
These missions, as they take place beyond the line of contact, do not require coordination with ground forces, and as Strategic Bombing they can be conducted freely by the air force. Its results are not immediate and its planning takes place well in advance, usually following a general plan of high-level fires.
Approximate Air Support
Close Air Support (CAS) missions are carried out in favor of surface forces, and executed in full coordination with them, with their immediate effects. These missions aim to complement the fire support actions for ground forces carried out by organic means such as field artillery and mortars. The proximity of these bombings with friendly forces requires special care, such as the use of advanced air controllers (FAC), on land or airborne, in order to provide accurate fire and minimize the occurrence of fratricide.
These missions must support land or naval maneuver, acting as rapid-action artillery, allowing troops to maneuver freely, often under their command. They can be used to open breaches, keep the enemy “head down”, relieve pressure on friendly forces, slow the enemy’s advance into close contact, impede his maneuver, and so on. They are carried out both by first-line aircraft (high-performance fighters) and by others specifically developed for this purpose, such as Super-Tucano and A-10 fighters, attack helicopters, and remotely piloted aircraft. Its primary targets are enemy troops such as infantry and tanks, and frequent practice is to keep the aircraft flying close to the contact lines, being triggered at the request of the surface troops.
For some time these aircraft lacked air coverage to operate, being frequent targets of land and air fire. These days, their vulnerability has decreased, as they can launch guided weapons at safe distances, day or night, under any weather conditions and even against mobile targets such as armored cars and high-performance speedboats. Modern C2 systems have also made this task easier. The lethality of these air systems grows faster than the ability of ground forces to defend themselves. Urban terrain and stealth targets still pose problems for this type of mission.
Aircraft, on a close air support mission, must be able to shoot down anti-aircraft defense positions as they represent a real threat, harass combat forces, weaken the logistical support structures that accompany the troops, fire anti-car, and counter-artillery, being that these targets can be mobile and require specialized ammunition, carry out armed reconnaissance carrying weapons to all types of targets that can be found, intercept helicopters and UAVs, in addition to carrying out air combat patrols (CAP) above the troops if they have the capacity to do so. (all-in-one) and perform tactical reconnaissance.
By Military Series