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Close-Air Support (CAS) / Light Strike Military Aircraft - Aerial Support for the Frontline Warfighter


Close Air Support platforms provide a much needed punch to frontline operations - supporting friendlies through guns, bombs, rockets, and missiles.

Close-Air Support - or CAS - is a special over-battlefield tactic of aircraft supporting ground-based 'friendlies' operating near enemy targets / positions. This sortie type therefore requires surgical strikes to eliminate threats while protecting allied forces. Such aircraft are typically excellent low-altitude, low-speed performers able to carry considerable war loads over distance. Both fixed-wing and rotary-wing designs (helicopters, both gunships and dedicated attack forms) can fulfill this role.

Like other military aircraft types, CAS aircraft got their start in the fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918) where surgical precision strikes were needed to support advancing forces. While the effect of these early monoplanes, biplanes, and triplanes in the role was minimal, it opened up a new chapter in the warplanner's playbook. World War 2 (1939-1945) not only secured the status of what was then known as the 'fighter-bomber' but it also broadened their tactical scope. In this conflict, it became commonplace to simply arm dedicated fighter types with racks and launchers for munitions delivery. In this way, fighters such as the classic Vought F4U Corsair could now be used to strike at enemy ground elements operating near friendly units - either as an offensive or defensive measure. In time, more dedicated ground-attack aircraft came online - essentially taking the battlefield role of the light-class bomber and the heavy fighter.

The Cold War period (1947-1991) saw a more precise approach to the CAS platform as tanks proliferated the battlefields that would dot the European landscape should the conflict ever have gone 'hot'. From this period was born the iconic Douglas A-1 Skyraider, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog), and the Russian-Soviet Sukhoi Su-25 'Frogfoot'. Today, the Warthog and Frogfoot continue their flying careers as there appears no suitable replacement for their kind.

There are a total of 251 Close-Air Support (CAS) / Light Strike Military Aircraft - Aerial Support for the Frontline Warfighter in the Military Factory. Entries are listed below in alphanumeric order (1-to-Z). Flag images indicative of country of origin and not necessarily the primary operator. This list also includes those base (sometimes civilian market) aircraft that can be - or have been - converted for the CAS role. Conceptual designs are also included for comparison.