Attack Fighter

Attack aircraft (also strike aircraft, attack bombers) are tactical military aircraft that have a primary role of attacking targets on the ground or sea, with greater precision than bombers, and which are prepared to face stronger low-level air defenses.[1] This class of aircraft is designed mostly for close air support and naval air-to-surface missions,[2] but they are also employed in other missions, for example air interdiction[2] or offensive counter air. In contrast to fighter aircraft, attack aircraft are not necessarily intended for air-to-air combat. However, they are often equipped with air-to-air missiles for self-defense.

Until the precision-guided munitions became standard in 1960s, the term "attack aircraft" implied a heavily armored aircraft armed with both bombs and with forward-firing automatic weapon—the former were more powerful, but the latter enabled strafing attacks of a much higher precision. In particular, the Russian Shturmovik (Cyrillic: Штурмовик) and German Schlachtflugzeug terms may be seen in the literature. Also many fighter-bombers of the era fell into this category naturally, if sufficiently armored.

One subclass of attack aircraft is ground-attack aircraft intended for air-to-ground use, and not for naval use. Currently, attack helicopters dominate the field of aircraft types built specifically for a ground-attack role. Few fixed-wing designs are currently employed, as air forces tend to assign the task to the ubiquitous multirole combat aircraft (sometimes described also as strike fighters). Notable exceptions include the American A-10 Thunderbolt II and the Russian Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot.

A variety of light attack aircraft exist, usually based on adapted trainers or other light fixed-wing aircraft.

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