Reconnaissance aircraft

A reconnaissance aircraft (colloquially, a spy plane) is a military surveillance aircraft designed or adapted to perform aerial reconnaissance with roles including collection of imagery intelligence (including using photography), signals intelligence, as well as measurement and signature intelligence. Modern technology has also enabled some aircraft and UAVs to carry out real-time surveillance in addition to general intelligence gathering.

In years prior to the development and common use of sophisticated electronic image recording devices and sensors such as radar, reconnaissance aircraft were also relied upon by military forces for distant visual observation and scouting of enemy movement. An example is the PBY Catalina maritime patrol flying boat used by the Allies in World War II: a flight of U.S. Navy Catalinas spotted part of the Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island, beginning the Battle of Midway.[1]

SR-71A in flight near Beale AFB 1988.JPEG
A USAF SR-71 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft

History

Early flight 02562u (10)
Balloon used for reconnaissance by the French during Battle of Fleurus (1794)
Usaf.u2.750pix
USAF TR-1 version of the U-2
USAF Combat Sent
RC-135U Combat Sent reconnaissance (ELINT) aircraft
RA-5C RVAH-6 in flight 1970
US Navy RA-5C Vigilante carrier-based supersonic reconnaissance aircraft
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25RB, Russia - Air Force AN2195954
MiG-25RB reconnaissance version of the MiG-25
ScanEagle UAV catapult launcher 2005-04-16
ScanEagle reconnaissance UAV on its catapult launcher

Prior to the 20th century machines for powered and controllable flight were not available to military forces, but some attempts were made to use lighter than air craft. During the Napoleonic Wars and Franco-Prussian War, balloons were used for aerial reconnaissance by the French.[2]

In World War I, aircraft were deployed during early phases of battle in reconnaissance roles as 'eyes of the army' to aid ground forces.[2] Aerial reconnaissance from this time through 1945 was mostly carried out by adapted versions of standard fighters and bombers equipped with film cameras.[3] Photography became the primary and best-known method of intelligence collection for reconnaissance aircraft by the end of World War II.

After World War II and during the Cold War the United States developed several dedicated reconnaissance aircraft designs, including the U-2 and SR-71, to monitor the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union.[4] Other types of reconnaissance aircraft were built for specialized roles in signals intelligence and electronic monitoring, such as the RB-47, Boeing RC-135 and the Ryan Model 147 drones.

Since the Cold War much of the strategic reconnaissance aircraft role has passed over to satellites,[5] and the tactical role to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This has been proven in successful uses by Israel, and by the United States in Desert Storm operations.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ . "Scouting and Early Attacks from Midway, 3–4 June 1942". Archived April 13, 2010, at the Library of Congress Web Archives United States Naval Historical Center, 1999. Retrieved: 18 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Air Power:Aerial Reconnaissance in World War I". centennialofflight.net. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  3. ^ "During World War II, "F-Planes" Weren't Fighters - Defense Media Network". defensemedianetwork.com. Archived from the original on 17 March 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Air Power:Aerospace Power and the Cold War". www.centennialofflight.net. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Satelite.Com Spy Satellites". satelite.com. Archived from the original on 17 March 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-04-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links

Media related to Reconnaissance aircraft at Wikimedia Commons

Aerial reconnaissance

Aerial reconnaissance is reconnaissance for a military or strategic purpose that is conducted using reconnaissance aircraft. The role of reconnaissance can fulfil a variety of requirements including artillery spotting, the collection of imagery intelligence, and the observation of enemy maneuvers.

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List of maritime patrol aircraft

The following is a list of maritime patrol aircraft, which are sometimes referred to as Maritime reconnaissance, coastal reconnaissance or patrol bombers depending on the service and the time period, and are characterized by their use in controlling sea lanes.

Maritime patrol aircraft

A maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), also known as a patrol aircraft, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, or by the older American term patrol bomber, is a fixed-wing aircraft designed to operate for long durations over water in maritime patrol roles — in particular anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-ship warfare (AShW), and search and rescue (SAR).

Mitsubishi Ki-15

The Mitsubishi Ki-15 (九七式司令部偵察機, Kyunana-shiki sireibu teisatsuki) was a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft and a light attack bomber of the Second Sino-Japanese War and Pacific War. It began as a fast civilian mail plane. It was a single-engine, low-wing, cantilever monoplane with a fixed tailwheel undercarriage; it carried a crew of two. It served with both the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy (as the C5M). During World War II it was nicknamed "Babs" by the Allies.

Mitsubishi Ki-46

The Mitsubishi Ki-46 was a twin-engine reconnaissance aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. Its Army Shiki designation was Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft (一〇〇式司令部偵察機); the Allied nickname was "Dinah".

Modern military aircraft types and roles
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