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airborne operation[′er‚bȯrn ‚äp·ə′rā·shən]
an action involving airlifts, landings, and the solution of combat tasks in the rear of the enemy, coordinated and interrelated through a single concept and plan for formations and units of airborne troops, and aviation and other forces, in order to attain operational or operational-strategic objectives. The following are the chief indexes of an airborne operation: the objective of the operation, the composition and tasks of the airborne troops, the range and depth of the troop landing in the rear of the enemy, and the duration of the actions in his rear (duration of the operation). The airborne operation as a form of deployment in conducting combat actions in the rear of the enemy arose in World War II (1939-45). But at that time it was not widely applied in practice because of limited capabilities of the airlift of troops and of the support from the front line and because of the relatively slow rate of advance of the troops from the front. The most important operations of this type were the airborne operation of the Soviet Army in the winter of 1942 near Viaz’ma and in 1943 near Cherkassy, as well as the airborne operation of the fascist German troops in 1941 to capture Crete. In 1944 the Anglo-American troops carried out the Normandy and Holland operations, in which airborne forces were used on a large scale. In the postwar period, in view of the development of nuclear weapons and their adoption for service, changes in the character and methods of the armed struggle, improvements in combat and transport capabilities of aviation, development of the airborne forces themselves, and new capabilities of the airlift of other types of troops, the importance of airborne operations has greatly increased and the theory concerning them has been further developed.
IA. P. SAMOILENKO