Multirole combat aircraft

Multirole Combat Aircraft

Multirole combat aircraft

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A multirole combat aircraft is an aircraft designed to act in at least two different roles in combat. The primary role is usually a fighter—hence, it is as often called a multirole fighter—while the secondary role is usually air-to-surface attack. More roles are added, such as air reconnaissance, forward air control, and electronic warfare. As of the subtypes of attack missions, besides the most often air interdiction, there may be suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), or even close air support (CAS).

Strike fighter, which similarly refers to a fighter capable of attack role, for historical reasons implies putting more emphasis on the interdiction aspect.

The main motivation for developing multirole aircraft is cost reduction. A fleet of multirole aircraft, when comparing to separate fleets of dedicated aircraft, costs less to develop, to manufacture, to maintain, and to supply. Some aircraft are called swing-role, to emphasize the ability of a quick role change, either at short notice, or even within the same mission.

History of the term

Multi-Role Combat Aircraft was the title of a multinational European project in 1968 that became the Panavia Tornado aircraft. During its development, the project had also been briefly called Multi-Role Aircraft (MRA). The same aircraft is now referred to as the Tornado IDS, or InterDictor/Strike, to differentiate it...
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