On Memorial Day, Americans remember the sacrifices the US armed forces have made, and continue to make, in service to the country. All of us also should consider the developments in technological capabilities and equipment over the years that contribute to the success of our military operations. When it comes to US air power, here is my Top 10 defense aircraft that substantially changed air operations since World War II and, in many cases, advanced groundbreaking concepts that led to developments in aerospace technology.
All photo credits in the following slideshow are US Air Force except where listed otherwise.
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10: Republic F-105 Thunderchief
This supersonic jet fighter/bomber could carry more than 12,000 lb of ordnance, as well as a nuclear weapon. Its engine generated 24,500 lb of thrust, and the plane reached 1,390 mph at altitude. Weighing 53,000 lb fully loaded, the “Thud” was formidable in diverse missions, including air combat; the F-105 is credited with 27 MiG kills in Vietnam. The aircraft’s ability to absorb punishment was legendary; many planes returned safely to base despite considerable battle damage. The Thud was one of the first modern aircraft in the US fleet in terms of its ability to be upgraded for different missions, among which was electronic warfare, during its service from 1958 to 1984.
Pat Toensmeier has more than 30 years of experience writing for business-to-business publications. His main areas of coverage have been defense, design, manufacturing, technology and chemicals, especially plastics and composites. He has reported extensively on developments in these areas from the U.S. and Europe, and covered industry events as well in Brazil and Asia. Toensmeier has held various positions at major publishers such as the McGraw-Hill Companies and Hearst Corporation. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a contributing editor for several print and online publications. Toensmeier is based in suburban New Haven, Conn.
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