View Full Version : Independent air forces
01-05-2009, 04:37 PM
What is the point of having a dedicated service to aerial warfare, why couldn't they just be part of one service, like naval aviation? I'd like to know the advantages of having a separate air force that is regarded as independent and subordinate to no other service.
01-05-2009, 04:52 PM
I swear I could stare at that avatar all day...
01-05-2009, 05:47 PM
What is the point of having a dedicated service to aerial warfare, why couldn't they just be part of one service, like naval aviation?
Well, here, ground-based aviation preceded the significant adoption of naval aviation because naval planners were too enamored with large capitol ships to care about small and flimsy airplanes. Also, naval aircraft are by and large significantly different from land-based aircraft, both in mission profiles and design requirements. An aircraft that works for one will rarely work well in the other. (major exceptions: F-4 Phantom, A-7 Corsair II, C-130, A-1 Skyraider) Even the Sikorsky S-70 series or the F-35 are significantly modified for use in the naval role.
I'd like to know the advantages of having a separate air force that is regarded as independent and subordinate to no other service.
Early proponents of air power believed that armies and navies were to traditional to accept radically different technologies and tactics, and then exploit them to their full potential. Experiences in the decades before (and during WWII) led them to believe that army commanders did not understand air warfare well enough to use it properly. By the time the USAAC became the USAAF, it made less sense to keep the air force as a semi-autonomous command of the army when it was making its own procurement specifications. Experience in WWII finally showed the critical importance of airpower, and led military leaders to believe that keeping the USAAF as a subordinate service to the army made no sense. As for the benefits of an indepenent air force, it allows the service to devote its entire budget and attention to aviation needs. Combining it with another service means more competion for resources that could end up paralyzing one part of the service for the benefit of the other. Separation of the army and air force also made much more sense in terms of the cold war, when the air force was significantly dedicated to providing strategic deterence while the role of the army was to conduct tactical operations.
01-05-2009, 07:05 PM
I could go on from where DesktopArmor left.
Most important reason for separate services is that those services are very specialized in nature of their operation. When military aviation started as planes were used mostly for recon. First armament for aircraft were basically hand grenades and small arms, basically very light bombing in addition to recon. As bombing began started development of defense methods, fighters and AAA. In WWI planes were small, lightly armed they had quite short range. Aviation supported army. But strategic bombing and defending against it changed that.
Currently better communication tech is taking all services closer to each other. In past of USAF there is lot "conflicts" within service and with other services, between fighter and bomber folks and with army. In fifties and early sixties strategic deterrence role dominated over needs of tactical aviation. With army there were huge fight over who gets helicopters and bit later over who gets CAS aircraft, ie. A-10. In all services current trend is more role based organizations.
For example Soviet Union had bit different approach. Different parts of air force were more mission oriented. Soviets one service for CAS, air defense in front line and long range operations (VVS). There were another service for strategic air defense (PVO), that handled all aspects of air defence, both ground based and interceptors. Strategic nuclear missiles were also independent service.
01-05-2009, 10:29 PM
Thank you desktop and domokun, cleared a lot of my doubts.
01-06-2009, 03:09 PM
I know that back in the day, air was hampered by belonging to the Army and Navy - a lot of spotting for arty/BB gunnery, rather than properly developing aerial warfare in its own right. Thats why the RAF went independent (it was Royal Flying Corps and RN Air Service), but the pendulum also swung back to some extent with the re-establishment of Army Aviation and Naval Aviation controlled by each service again (Army Air Corps and Fleet Air Arm soon instituted).
What I wonder is that now, when the doctrine/role/development is established and there is no fear that airpower is going to get sidelined by wishes to built battleships or whatever, and when service's manpower is being cut, whether it'd be worth amalgamating the Air Force with the Navy?
Let me try and explain my rationale.
Airforces do power projection, which is what Navies have done for time immemorial. You have the Army for getting stuck in there in a ground campaign as a previous poster has said, whereas both the Airforce and the Navy are concerned with providing strategic, global power, whether that be warheads on foreheads, transporting troops or whatever.
The AF and the Navy can be perceived as having 'lost out' money-wise to the Army (and Marines) in post-Cold War defence postures and restructuring, and the numbers of the AF and Navy combined would (almost) equal the Army (in my country at least). The Navy would have little trouble carrying out the AF role as they have operated fast jets and other significant air assets with no problem previously.
Both are technical services, and with the importance of space power and the emergence of cyber power, it would make sense to consolidate these roles along with air and sea power into one organisation, as the 'operational preparatory' type of service - the Navy (with air, space and cyber capabilities) would act as the enabler to fulfil all the prerequisites for the Army (and ground troops) getting in country and doing the business. As well as being the 'supporting' service, they will of course have to be capable of fighting an air/sea war in their own right - but it must be acknowledged that the role of air, sea, space and cyber power in the current defence climate has been (and will surely continue to be) largely to prepare the battlespace for land power to go and defeat the enemy comprehensively. Consolidating this under one service makes sense in my view.
Not saying that all aircraft have to be naval types, just that we should have a common organisation for strategic purposes. Carry on with landbased air, of course.
Another plus point, giving them naval rank would mean I could tell what they are - no more barcode reading on RAF officers epaulettes!! :p
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