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For other uses, see Air force (disambiguation).
RAF Eurofighter Typhoon
USAF B-2 Spirit stealth strategic bomber.
Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI.
RMAF MiG-29 (right) with a US Navy F-14
An air force, also known in some countries as an air army or air corps, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or other branch. Typically, air forces are responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out ...view middle of the document...
 However, with the invention of heavier-than-air craft in the early 20th century, armies and navies began to take interest in this new form of aviation as a means to wage war.
The first aviation force in the world was the Aviation Militaire of the French Army formed in 1910, which eventually became L'Armée de l'Air. In 1911, during the Italo-Turkish War, Italy employed aircraft for the first time ever in the world for reconnaissance and bombing missions against Turkish positions on Libyan Territory. The Italian–Turkish war of 1911–1912 was the first in history that featured air attacks by airplanes and dirigible airships. During World War I France, Germany, Italy, British Empire and the Ottoman Empire all possessed significant forces of bombers and fighters. World War I also saw the appearance of senior commanders who directed aerial warfare and numerous flying aces.
 Independent air forces
An independent air force is one which is a separate branch of a nation's armed forces and is, at least nominally, treated as a military service on par with that of older services like navies or armies.
The British Royal Air Force was the first independent air force in the world. The RAF was founded on 1 April 1918 by merging the British Army's Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Navy's Air Service. On establishment the RAF comprised over 20,000 aircraft, was commanded by a Chief of the Air Staff who held the rank of Major General and was governed by its own government ministry (the Air Ministry).
Over the following decades most countries adopted the same model. The South African Air Force was formed on 1 February 1920 and the Australian Air Force was formed shortly afterwards on 31 March 1921, although it was not until 1922 that the head of the Service was titled as Chief of the Air Staff, placing him on a par with his Australian Army and Navy counterparts. The Canadian Air Force was formed at the end of World War I, and was abolished and reorganized several times between 1918 and 1924. It became the permanent Royal Canadian Air Force when it received the "Royal" title by royal proclamation on April 1, 1924. The Finnish Air Force was established as a separate service on 4 May 1928 and the United States Air Force was formed as a separate branch of the American military on 18 September 1947. The Israeli Air Force came into being the with the State of Israel on May 18, 1948, but evolved from the pre-existing Sherut Avir (Air Service) of the Haganah paramilitary.
 The world wars
RAF Supermarine Spitfire played a vital role in British victory during the Battle of Britain.
Germany was the first country to organize regular air attacks on enemy infrastructure. In World War I it used its zeppelins (airships) to drop bombs on British cities. At that time, Britain did have aircraft, though her airships were less advanced than the zeppelins and were very rarely used for attacking; instead they were usually used to spy on...