Evolution or revolution? : the impact of the 1991 Gulf War on United States Air Force doctrine : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
One of mankind's greatest accomplishments this century has been the realisation of powered flight. Aviation has significantly changed the way that humans think, live and, for better or worse, wage war. The advent of airpower has revolutionised the conduct of warfare during the twentieth century as the development of platforms with the ability to project military power while operating above the earth's surface has opened a third dimension to armed conflict. Technological advances has made man's ascent into the air possible and it has progressively become the most important sphere of modern warfare. Airpower entails the use of the air not just as a medium for transit, as in the case of a projectile, but also for manoeuvre, deployment and surprise which includes aircraft, non-ballistic cruise missiles and more increasingly, space assets. Constrained by geography and the physical environment to a much lesser extent than surface forces, airpower enjoys speed, reach, responsiveness and perspective far exceeding those of land or seapower. Today, aircraft are able to fly unlimited distances and deliver a variety of weapons upon targets with unprecedented destructive capacity. As well as applying direct firepower, aircraft are able to protect and enhance the combat power of all other friendly forces, regardless of their operational spheres. Indeed, the versatility, range, speed, precision and lethality of contemporary airpower have made it such an integral component of modern warfare that no major military operation can be efficiently conducted without it. In many instances, airpower has demonstrated that it can be the dominant form of military power.