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Air and Space Superiority

Air and Space Superiority

Air and Space Superiority


From the Pacific island-hopping campaign of World War II to the success of coalition forces in Operations ODYSSEY DAWN and UNIFIED PROTECTOR (Libya) in 2011 and through today, air superiority has been and remains an essential precondition to successful military operations. It ensures that the advantages of the other Air Force core missions, as well as the formidable capabilities of our sister Services, are broadly available to combatant commanders. It includes the ability to control the air so that our military forces do not have to worry about being attacked from the air, while ensuring that joint forces have the freedom to attack in the air, on the ground, and at sea.

Air superiority has provided our Nation with a decades-long asymmetric advantage. Joint force and coalition commanders have come to expect the mission-essential air superiority that over 115,000 of America’s Airmen deliver daily.  The Air Force has given them ample reason—not since April 15, 1953, has an enemy combat aircraft killed a servicemember in the American ground forces.  This revolutionary degree of control has not only allowed Airmen to accomplish their missions, but has allowed all American forces the freedom of action to operate without the threat of attack from enemy aircraft.  Whether friendly naval forces are helping to secure vital sea lines of communication and transit, amphibious forces are conducting over-the-beach landings, special operations forces are executing counterterrorism missions, or ground forces are engaged in maneuvers, these operations depend upon our Airmen to provide mission-essential air superiority.  Without it, our Nation’s military would have to radically change the way it fights, which would likely occur at the price of more lives lost.



America’s freedom to operate effectively across the spectrum of conflict rests not only on the Air Force’s ability to dominate in the air, but also on its ability to exploit space. Every day, over 15,000 Airmen play a role in ensuring space superiority. As the Nation’s space force, the Air Force provides critical capabilities that enhance the military’s ability to navigate accurately, see clearly, communicate securely, and strike precisely. Joint, interagency, and coalition forces depend on Air Force space operations to perform their missions every day, on every continent, in the air, on the land, and at sea. In a dangerous and uncertain future, the ability to access and exploit space, even when others try to deny us, will be vital to our Nation’s security.


Although air and space superiority underwrite the freedom of action required for all joint military operations, there is no guarantee of it in the future. In coming years, our Nation’s ability to gain and maintain superiority in all operating domains— air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace—will become progressively more difficult as sophisticated technologies continue to proliferate. In contested environments, our air superiority future depends on modern technology and fifth-generation fighter capability. Another key to maintaining air and space superiority is ready and trained Airmen who are properly equipped for their mission. When called upon, these Airmen must possess a well-honed combat edge so that they are ready to prevail even against the most advanced opponents. Therefore, we will couple emerging technologies with smart Airmen to devise new and effective combinations to preserve our first look, first shot, first kill capability. We must also look for opportunities in air, space, and cyber to collaborate with industry and our international partners as a way to maintain the edge our Nation requires of us as an air force and as a part of the joint warfighting team.






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