air defense

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air defense

[′er di‚fens]
All measures designed to destroy, nullify, or reduce the effectiveness of enemy attack by aircraft or missiles after they are airborne.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Air Defense


the totality of measures undertaken to repulse enemy air strikes. A distinction is made between national air defense, army air defense, and naval air defense.

In the USSR, national air defense is the totality of nationwide measures and combat actions by the National Air Defense Forces to defend, in case of enemy air strikes, the population, vitally important regions, political-administrative and industrial-economic centers, and other important military-economic targets, as well as groupings of armed forces within the country. Air defense is carried on by the National Air Defense Forces, whose mission is to destroy the enemy in the air in coordination with other armed services and with the air defense forces and weapons of the member countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. In the United States and the other major capitalist countries national air defense functions and missions are assigned to the air forces, which possess all the modern air defense forces and weapons.

Army air defense is the totality of combat actions by the forces and means of units of all sizes of the ground troops, carried out in coordination with the National Air Defense Forces, to repulse enemy air strikes. It also includes activities related to reconnaissance, warning, dispersal, camouflage, and concealment of troops. Army air defense is organized by commanders at all levels and in all types of troop combat activity.

Naval air defense is carried out by ship air defense weapons coordination with the National Air Defense Forces.

The development of air defense and the means and methods of fighting an enemy in the air is related directly to the development of enemy flying craft. During World War I and World War II, air defense was a type of combat support for troops or naval forces and until the mid-1950’s was directed primarily against aircraft. In the mid-1950’s a new phase in the development of air defense began as a result of the equipping of armed forces in many states with nuclear weapons, ballistic and winged missiles, jet aircraft, and radioelectronic equipment. This enormously expanded the capabilities of the armed forces of the developed countries to deliver surprise air and missile attacks with nuclear and conventional weapons. The role of air defense in armed struggle increased sharply. New means, forms and methods of organizing and waging air defense were developed.

The basic means of antiaircraft defense capable of repulsing strikes by aircraft, unmanned craft, winged missiles, automatic drifting aerostats, and other aeronautical offensive means include antiaircraft missile complexes, antiaircraft artillery, fighter aircraft, radar equipment, and radioelectronic defense equipment. The purpose of antimissile defense is to detect, intercept, and destroy ballistic missiles on their flight trajectories and create radar interference in their guidance systems and equipment. The chief antimissile defense means are interceptor missiles, radar stations, and radioelectronic protection equipment.

All the enemy’s current airborne means of attack have weapons of great destructive force and speed and unlimited operating range. In the air defense system, therefore, it is especially important to maintain all forces and means in constant combat readiness and to organize a reliable air attack warning system. The conduct of air defense involves, on the one hand, detection, identification, interception and destruction of enemy flying craft and, on the other hand, warning troops, naval forces, civil defense agencies, the population, and objects in the rear of the country regarding an air attack. The actions of air defense forces and means are carried on in such a way as to repulse strikes by enemy airborne weapons from any direction and to destroy them on the distant approaches to the objects being defended.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

air defense

All defensive means designed to destroy attacking enemy aircraft or missiles in the air and to minimize the adverse effects of such attacks. Both active and passive means can be used for air defense.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
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