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The first helicopter to achieve fully controlled flight was the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focke-Wulf_Fw_61 Focke-Wulf Fw 61]] [[OlderThanTheyThink in 1936.]] The earliest helicopters, limited by underpowered engines [[note]][[CaptainObvious it takes a lot more horsepower to lift the aircraft straight up than it does to push it forward and let the wings lift]][[/note]] were not good for very much other than reconnaissance and maybe very light transport and medevac duties (like that chopper you see in every episode of ''Series/{{Mash}}''). As the technology developed, the helicopters became more robust and could carry heavier payloads, which for a time mostly translated to carrying more people. They saw use in both the Army and the Navy due to their ability to hover over the ground and because they did not need runways or full-length flight decks like airplanes did. Later on, they began to mount weapons on them for self defense, then decided to mount ''[[MoreDakka more]]'' weapons on them, to actively go after the enemy. The bulky transport designs were slimmed down to the sleek sexy attack choppers we know today (including the American Apaches and Cobras, and the Russian Mi-28's, Ka-50 Alligators and Ka-52 Black Sharks ([[ReportingNames known by the western militarys as the Havok, Hokum A and Hokum B, respectively]]).

Helicopters, in their own way, fill many of the same niches that fixed-wing airplanes do, with a few exceptions. Helicopters rarely, if ever, engage in air to air combat, being designed primarily for air-to-surface roles. Also, there is a practical size limitation for how big you can make a helicopter before it's more trouble than it's worth, so they don't get used for strategic airlift. They can do a few tricks that most airplanes can't do, including [[CaptainObvious hovering in place]] or sling-loading bulky cargo underneath them. In various navies, they have replaced most ASW airships, and can hunt submarines or use their radar equipment from high altitudes to give the fleet a better ability to detect incoming threats, sometimes even going so far as to act as decoys to TakingTheBullet draw anti-ship missiles away from the fleet.

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The first helicopter to achieve fully controlled flight was the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focke-Wulf_Fw_61 Focke-Wulf Fw 61]] [[OlderThanTheyThink in 1936.]] The earliest helicopters, limited by underpowered engines [[note]][[CaptainObvious it [[note]]it takes a lot more horsepower to lift the aircraft straight up than it does to push it forward and let the wings lift]][[/note]] lift[[/note]] were not good for very much other than reconnaissance and maybe very light transport and medevac duties (like that chopper you see in every episode of ''Series/{{Mash}}''). As the technology developed, the helicopters became more robust and could carry heavier payloads, which for a time mostly translated to carrying more people. They saw use in both the Army and the Navy due to their ability to hover over the ground and because they did not need runways or full-length flight decks like airplanes did. Later on, they began to mount weapons on them for self defense, then decided to mount ''[[MoreDakka more]]'' weapons on them, to actively go after the enemy. The bulky transport designs were slimmed down to the sleek sexy attack choppers we know today (including the American Apaches and Cobras, and the Russian Mi-28's, Ka-50 Alligators and Ka-52 Black Sharks ([[ReportingNames known by the western militarys as the Havok, Hokum A and Hokum B, respectively]]).

Helicopters, in their own way, fill many of the same niches that fixed-wing airplanes do, with a few exceptions. Helicopters rarely, if ever, engage in air to air combat, being designed primarily for air-to-surface roles. Also, there is a practical size limitation for how big you can make a helicopter before it's more trouble than it's worth, so they don't get used for strategic airlift. They can do a few tricks that most airplanes can't do, including [[CaptainObvious hovering in place]] place or sling-loading bulky cargo underneath them. In various navies, they have replaced most ASW airships, and can hunt submarines or use their radar equipment from high altitudes to give the fleet a better ability to detect incoming threats, sometimes even going so far as to act as decoys to TakingTheBullet draw anti-ship missiles away from the fleet.


Sometimes these are dedicated aircraft (such as the famous Stukas and Sturmoviks of [=WW2=]), other times they're just modified fighters. Ground Attack aircraft are designed for pinpoint surgical strikes on small moving targets that bombers aren't practical for, such as tanks, artillery, trains, infantry. During the two world wars, this was accomplished by flying very low and packing bombs, rockets, cannon and whatever else could be thought of. These days, Ground Attack aircraft have more or less entirely taken over the traditional strategic role of the bomber as well thanks to smart weapons. There's even a subcategory of the mission called "UsefulNotes/WildWeasel", where your whole objective is to go in first, thread your way through whatever array of ground-based anti-air defenses the enemy has up, and destroy it all, so that your pals can come in unmolested later. (See "Electronic Warfare" below for more details.)

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Sometimes these are dedicated aircraft (such as the famous Stukas and Sturmoviks of [=WW2=]), other times they're just modified fighters. Ground Attack aircraft are designed for pinpoint surgical strikes on small moving targets that bombers aren't practical for, such as tanks, artillery, trains, infantry. During the two world wars, this was accomplished by flying very low and packing bombs, rockets, cannon and whatever else could be thought of. These days, Ground Attack aircraft have more or less entirely taken over the traditional strategic role of the bomber as well thanks to smart weapons. There's even a subcategory of the mission called "UsefulNotes/WildWeasel", where your whole objective is to go in first, (hopefully) thread your way through whatever array of ground-based anti-air defenses the enemy has up, and destroy it all, so that your pals can come in unmolested later. (See "Electronic Warfare" below for more details.)



* Medium Freighter - Bigger than the light transport, but still able to operate from rough, short, unpaved or otherwise "rugged" airfields, this class is one of the few that can be truly described as synonymous with a single aircraft: the legendary Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Aviation's answer to the heavy mail van (the type of van UPS uses). Tough and noisy but it gets the packates delivered. These aircraft usually carry 15-35 tons of cargo, the legendary Hercules can carry 22.

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* Medium Freighter - Bigger than the light transport, but still able to operate from rough, short, unpaved or otherwise "rugged" airfields, this class is one of the few that can be truly described as synonymous with a single aircraft: the legendary Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Aviation's answer to the heavy mail van (the type of van UPS uses). Tough and noisy but it gets the packates packages delivered. These aircraft usually carry 15-35 tons of cargo, the legendary Hercules can carry 22.


* Generation 4.5- Further improvements to electronics and weaponry, but not stealth. Most of the recent fighters, such as the later "Flanker" derivatives, the MiG-35, the F/A-18E Super Hornet, the Saab 39 Gripen, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon. American and Russian air forces generally retrofitted these features to fourth generation aircraft rather than designing new ones. The F/A-18E Super Hornet and the MiG-35 are exceptions to this rule; despite their similar appearance to the earlier Hornet and MiG-29, they are in many ways new designs.
* Fifth generation- stealth fighters. The F-22 Raptor (US) and the F-35 Lightning II are service at the moment, while the Sukhoi Su-57 (''Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi'', or Advanced Tactical Frontline Fighter) has just begun flight testing. Even the Chinese have recently gotten into the field with the Chengdu J-20, though it's not exactly clear how far they've gotten with their design.

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* Generation 4.5- Further improvements to electronics and weaponry, but not stealth. Most of the recent fighters, such as the later "Flanker" derivatives, the MiG-35, [=MiG-35=], the F/A-18E Super Hornet, the Saab 39 Gripen, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon. American and Russian air forces generally retrofitted these features to fourth generation aircraft rather than designing new ones. The F/A-18E Super Hornet and the MiG-35 [=MiG-35=] are exceptions to this rule; despite their similar appearance to the earlier Hornet and MiG-29, [=MiG-29=], they are in many ways new designs.
* Fifth generation- stealth fighters. The F-22 Raptor (US) and the F-35 Lightning II are service at the moment, while the Russian Sukhoi Su-57 (''Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi'', or Advanced Tactical Frontline Fighter) has just begun flight testing. Even and the Chinese have recently gotten into the field with the Chengdu J-20, though it's not exactly clear how far they've gotten with their design.J-20 are in the process of entering service.


* Generation 4.5- Further improvements to electronics and weaponry, but not stealth. Most of the recent fighters, such as the later "Flanker" derivatives, the F/A-18E Super Hornet, the Saab 39 Gripen, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon. American and Russian air forces generally retrofitted these features to fourth generation aircraft rather than designing new ones. The F/A-18E is an exception to that trend; despite everything that its name, designation and appearance would imply, it's an all new plane only loosely based on the original F/A-18.
* Fifth generation- stealth fighters. The F-22 Raptor (US) and the F-35 Lightning II are service at the moment, while the Sukhoi PAK FA (''Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi'', or Advanced Tactical Frontline Fighter) has just begun flight testing. Even the Chinese have recently gotten into the field with the Chengdu J-20, though it's not exactly clear how far they've gotten with their design.

to:

* Generation 4.5- Further improvements to electronics and weaponry, but not stealth. Most of the recent fighters, such as the later "Flanker" derivatives, the MiG-35, the F/A-18E Super Hornet, the Saab 39 Gripen, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon. American and Russian air forces generally retrofitted these features to fourth generation aircraft rather than designing new ones. The F/A-18E is an exception Super Hornet and the MiG-35 are exceptions to that trend; this rule; despite everything that its name, designation and their similar appearance would imply, it's an all to the earlier Hornet and MiG-29, they are in many ways new plane only loosely based on the original F/A-18.
designs.
* Fifth generation- stealth fighters. The F-22 Raptor (US) and the F-35 Lightning II are service at the moment, while the Sukhoi PAK FA Su-57 (''Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi'', or Advanced Tactical Frontline Fighter) has just begun flight testing. Even the Chinese have recently gotten into the field with the Chengdu J-20, though it's not exactly clear how far they've gotten with their design.



** The Su-47 Berkut was only a demonstrator of the type, although elements will almost certainly feature in the final design of the PAK FA.

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** The Su-47 Berkut was only a demonstrator of the type, although elements will almost certainly feature in the final design of the PAK FA.
Su-57.


Helicopters inherently have to expend energy to stay aloft, and as such they are quite CoolButInefficient, burning fuel at a frightening rate. They are also inherently noisy, and cannot fly at very high altitudes, while simultaneously carrying only modest payloads and being exorbitantly expensive to buy and operate. These drawbacks are important to keep in mind, considering all of the unrealistic things helicopters are portrayed as doing in fiction, such as the BlackHelicopter, a trope devoted to using helicopters for [[CriticalResearchFailure extended, stealthy surveillance,]] despite being arguably the ''worst'' type of aircraft for the job.

to:

Helicopters inherently have to expend energy to stay aloft, and as such they are quite CoolButInefficient, burning fuel at a frightening rate. They are also inherently noisy, and cannot fly at very high altitudes, while simultaneously carrying only modest payloads and being exorbitantly expensive to buy and operate. These drawbacks are important to keep in mind, considering all of the unrealistic things helicopters are portrayed as doing in fiction, such as the BlackHelicopter, a trope devoted to using helicopters for [[CriticalResearchFailure extended, stealthy surveillance,]] surveillance, despite being arguably the ''worst'' type of aircraft for the job.


Sometimes these are dedicated aircraft (such as the famous Stukas and Sturmoviks of [=WW2=]), other times they're just modified fighters. Ground Attack aircraft are designed for pinpoint surgical strikes on small moving targets that bombers aren't practical for, such as tanks, artillery, trains, infantry. During the two world wars, this was accomplished by flying very low and packing bombs, rockets, cannon and whatever else could be thought of. These days, Ground Attack aircraft have more or less entirely taken over the traditional strategic role of the bomber as well thanks to smart weapons. There's even a subcategory of the mission called "{{Wild Weasel}}", where your whole objective is to go in first, thread your way through whatever array of ground-based anti-air defenses the enemy has up, and destroy it all, so that your pals can come in unmolested later. (See "Electronic Warfare" below for more details.)

to:

Sometimes these are dedicated aircraft (such as the famous Stukas and Sturmoviks of [=WW2=]), other times they're just modified fighters. Ground Attack aircraft are designed for pinpoint surgical strikes on small moving targets that bombers aren't practical for, such as tanks, artillery, trains, infantry. During the two world wars, this was accomplished by flying very low and packing bombs, rockets, cannon and whatever else could be thought of. These days, Ground Attack aircraft have more or less entirely taken over the traditional strategic role of the bomber as well thanks to smart weapons. There's even a subcategory of the mission called "{{Wild Weasel}}", "UsefulNotes/WildWeasel", where your whole objective is to go in first, thread your way through whatever array of ground-based anti-air defenses the enemy has up, and destroy it all, so that your pals can come in unmolested later. (See "Electronic Warfare" below for more details.)


UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar was one of the first major wars to use guided missiles, but guns often ended up being used, as the early missiles were unreliable and US rules of engagement required visual identification before firing. The US had actually taken guns off its fighters, then realised their mistake and stuck them back on. It was also the first war that proved the deadliness of the surface-to-air missile: Vietnamese [[ReportingNames SA-2]] batteries made life hell for bomber crews. The US countered by developing air-to-surface tactics in {{Wild Weasel mission}}s.

to:

UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar was one of the first major wars to use guided missiles, but guns often ended up being used, as the early missiles were unreliable and US rules of engagement required visual identification before firing. The US had actually taken guns off its fighters, then realised their mistake and stuck them back on. It was also the first war that proved the deadliness of the surface-to-air missile: Vietnamese [[ReportingNames SA-2]] batteries made life hell for bomber crews. The US countered by developing air-to-surface tactics in {{Wild Weasel mission}}s.
UsefulNotes/WildWeasel missions.


In the inter-war period air-to-air doctrine began to diverge with only a few countries (notably Italy and Japan) developing agile lightweight dogfighters (like the [=A6M=] Zero and G.50 Freccia) in the WWI tradition, while most countries bet on [[AttackPatternAlpha formations]] of powerful and fast fighters with ground-attack capability (single-engined medium types like the German Bf109, Soviet Yak-1, and US P-40, and twin-engined heavy types like the German Bf110, British Whirlwind, Soviet Pe-2, and US P-38). Britain didn't really put much faith in the fighter aircraft at all and as a result didn't develop modern medium fighters such as the Hurricane and Spitfire until 1937 (some medium bombers like the Mosquito were also reinvented as heavy fighters).

to:

In the inter-war period air-to-air doctrine began to diverge with only a few countries (notably Italy and Japan) developing agile lightweight dogfighters (like the [=A6M=] Zero and G.50 Freccia) in the WWI tradition, while most countries bet on [[AttackPatternAlpha formations]] of powerful and fast fighters with ground-attack capability (single-engined medium types like the German Bf109, [=Bf109,=] Soviet Yak-1, and US P-40, and twin-engined heavy types like the German Bf110, [=Bf110=], British Whirlwind, Soviet Pe-2, and US P-38). Britain didn't really put much faith in the fighter aircraft at all and as a result didn't develop modern medium fighters such as the Hurricane and Spitfire until 1937 (some medium bombers like the Mosquito were also reinvented as heavy fighters).



Planes got faster, stronger, better-armed and more specialised but generally remained biplanes made of canvas and wood until the mid-late 1930s, when a new generation of aircraft started to emerge, spearheaded by Germany's emerging ''Luftwaffe''. Multi-engined monoplane bombers could outpace the best British and French fighters, and the Messerschmitt Bf109 fighter blew everything else away. The British responded ''just'' in time with their Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, but the French were still in the process of upgrading their air force and hadn't had the time to deploy their more modern fighters when their ground forces were encircled and eliminated, forcing their surrender. Upon the invasion of the Soviet Union airpower failed to sink the Soviet Black Sea or Baltic fleets at anchor due to lack of tactical suprise and weight of AA fire from the port facilities at Sevastopol and Leningrad and from the ships themselves. Moreover airpower was unable to break the stalemate at Smolensk (July-August) or Kiev (August-September) due to an acute shortage of fuel and munitions caused by the totally insufficient rail network of the occupied territories (adequate only for a ground force half the size of that actually deployed, not including air force requirements).

to:

Planes got faster, stronger, better-armed and more specialised but generally remained biplanes made of canvas and wood until the mid-late 1930s, when a new generation of aircraft started to emerge, spearheaded by Germany's emerging ''Luftwaffe''. Multi-engined monoplane bombers could outpace the best British and French fighters, and the Messerschmitt Bf109 [=Bf109=] fighter blew everything else away. The British responded ''just'' in time with their Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, but the French were still in the process of upgrading their air force and hadn't had the time to deploy their more modern fighters when their ground forces were encircled and eliminated, forcing their surrender. Upon the invasion of the Soviet Union airpower failed to sink the Soviet Black Sea or Baltic fleets at anchor due to lack of tactical suprise surprise and weight of AA fire from the port facilities at Sevastopol and Leningrad and from the ships themselves. Moreover airpower was unable to break the stalemate at Smolensk (July-August) or Kiev (August-September) due to an acute shortage of fuel and munitions caused by the totally insufficient rail network of the occupied territories (adequate only for a ground force half the size of that actually deployed, not including air force requirements).


With the advent of radar and surface-to-air missiles, preventing the enemy from locking onto a strike force became important. These aircraft, often converted fighters or ground attack aircraft, use powerful jamming devices to jam radar signals. Many also carry anti-radiation missiles, which home on radar sources and destroy the radars. You used to be able to stop these by just switching off your radar, but now they can remember their targets. The presence of these can force a SAM battery to not even take part in a fight. On the other hand, jammer aircraft tend to vulnerable to enemy fighters [[http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htintel/articles/20090301.aspx?comments=Y though there have been exceptions),]] and the development of [=SAMs=] with passive home-on-jamming features might change the game once again.

to:

With the advent of radar and surface-to-air missiles, preventing the enemy from locking onto a strike force became important. These aircraft, often converted fighters or ground attack aircraft, use powerful jamming devices to jam radar signals. Many also carry anti-radiation missiles, which home on radar sources and destroy the radars. You used to be able to stop these by just switching off your radar, but now they can remember their targets. The presence of these can force a SAM battery to not even take part in a fight. On the other hand, jammer aircraft tend to vulnerable to enemy fighters [[http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htintel/articles/20090301.aspx?comments=Y though there have been exceptions),]] exceptions,]] and the development of [=SAMs=] with passive home-on-jamming features might change the game once again.


With the advent of radar and surface-to-air missiles, preventing the enemy from locking onto a strike force became important. These aircraft, often converted fighters or ground attack aircraft, use powerful jamming devices to jam radar signals. Many also carry anti-radiation missiles, which home on radar sources and destroy the radars. You used to be able to stop these by just switching off your radar, but now they can remember their targets. The presence of these can force a SAM battery to not even take part in a fight. On the other hand, jammer aircraft tend to vulnerable to enemy fighters [[http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htintel/articles/20090301.aspx?comments=Y though there have been exceptions), and the development of [=SAMs=] with passive home-on-jamming features might change the game once again.

to:

With the advent of radar and surface-to-air missiles, preventing the enemy from locking onto a strike force became important. These aircraft, often converted fighters or ground attack aircraft, use powerful jamming devices to jam radar signals. Many also carry anti-radiation missiles, which home on radar sources and destroy the radars. You used to be able to stop these by just switching off your radar, but now they can remember their targets. The presence of these can force a SAM battery to not even take part in a fight. On the other hand, jammer aircraft tend to vulnerable to enemy fighters [[http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htintel/articles/20090301.aspx?comments=Y though there have been exceptions), exceptions),]] and the development of [=SAMs=] with passive home-on-jamming features might change the game once again.


* Fifth generation- stealth fighters. Only the F-22 Raptor (US) is in service at the moment, but will soon be joined by the F-35 Lightning II, while the Sukhoi PAK FA (''Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi'', or Advanced Tactical Frontline Fighter) has just begun flight testing. Even the Chinese have recently gotten into the field with the Chengdu J-20, though it's not exactly clear how far they've gotten with their design.

to:

* Fifth generation- stealth fighters. Only the The F-22 Raptor (US) is in and the F-35 Lightning II are service at the moment, but will soon be joined by the F-35 Lightning II, while the Sukhoi PAK FA (''Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi'', or Advanced Tactical Frontline Fighter) has just begun flight testing. Even the Chinese have recently gotten into the field with the Chengdu J-20, though it's not exactly clear how far they've gotten with their design.


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* First generation- the early sub-sonic fighters, featured in the closing stages of WW2 and in Korea, such as the F-86 Sabre and [=MiG-15=]

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* First generation- the early sub-sonic fighters, featured in the closing stages of WW2 [=WW2=] and in Korea, such as the F-86 Sabre and [=MiG-15=]

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