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In light of changes in the world situation and in available funds, the Air Force is assessing the roles and effectiveness of existing and planned aircraft. To glean lessons about the use of conventionally armed heavy bombers in the past, the author examines World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm, focusing on operational concerns such as mission planning, targeting, tactics, and attrition. This historical review reveals, among other things, that the application of pre-World War II concepts proved indecisive against countries of varying levels of industrialization. However, nontraditional and innovative mission planning and targeting, such as antisubmarine warfare, countershipping, aerial mining, close air support, and battlefield air interdiction, showed bombers to be effective in other roles.

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