Anti-aircraft warfare

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NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action."[1] They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces wherever they are. However, for most countries the main effort has tended to be 'homeland defence'. NATO refers to airborne air defence as counter-air and naval air defence as anti-aircraft warfare. Missile defence is an extension of air defence as are initiatives to adapt air defence to the task of intercepting potentially any projectile in flight.

However, in some countries, such as Britain and Germany in World War II, the Soviet Union and NATO's European Command, ground based air defence and air defence aircraft have been under integrated command and control. Nevertheless, while overall air defence may be for homeland defence including military facilities, forces in the field, wherever they are, invariably deploy their own air defence capability if there is an air threat. A surface based air defence capability can also be deployed offensively to deny the use of airspace to an opponent.



The term air defence was probably first used by Britain when Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) was created as a Royal Air Force command in 1925. However, arrangements in UK were also called 'anti-aircraft', abbreviated as AA, a term that remained in general use into the 1950s. After World War I it was sometimes prefixed by 'Light' or 'Heavy' (LAA or HAA) to classify a type of gun or unit.

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