offensive weapons and systems supporting these weapons, mounted on military aircraft. At the start of its development, military aviation did not have any special ordnance. The ordnance was adapted from ground troop weapons. The simplest devices were used to mount, aim, and release the weapons. In 1913, Russia built the world’s first four-engine bomber, the Il’ia Muromets, which carried rather impressive cannon and bomb loads. Intensive development of aircraft armaments occurred after World War I, and aircraft armament has reached a high level of technical excellence at the present time.
Aircraft armament encompasses all types of weapons mounted on aircraft, including fasteners and mounts, adjustments, and controls; gun and bomb sights; onboard armament computing systems; ammunition and other disposable equipment; and suspension and release mechanisms for special loads. Aircraft armament also includes the equipment and computing devices for preparing, inspecting, and forecasting the technical condition of aircraft armament systems; trainers, simulators, teaching equipment, and towed aerial targets; onboard equipment for passive jamming; chemically activated speed boosters and their suspension and control systems; and troop-carrying and parachute equipment.
The following types of aircraft armament are distinguished by the properties of the ammunition used: rocket armament, cannon and machine gun armament, bomb munitions, and special-purpose armament. Rocket armament includes guided and unguided missiles designed for various purposes. This armament has great destructive power and is one of the major types of armament carried on modern aircraft. Cannon and machine gun armament includes aircraft cannons and machine guns and the appropriate accessories and ammunition. Cannon calibers are 20 mm or greater; machine gun calibers range from 7.62 to 15 mm. Bombing armament includes various types of aerial bombs, cluster bombs, mines and torpedoes, as well as bomb suspension and bomb release gear (bomb racks, bomb release mechanisms, and so forth). Special-purpose armament includes devices and instruments to meet such problems as laying down smoke screens, use of marker and signal flares, use of training and checking devices (for example, camera guns), and suspension and release of various special-purpose loads. Special-purpose armament sometimes includes nuclear and chemical armament. A modern aircraft armament system is a complex set of mechanical, radio engineering, electronic, and optical instruments and devices and is characterized by automation and electrification of almost all aircraft armament components.
V. A. KUZNETSOV