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Maintained by navies and air forces throughout the world, patrol aircraft are tasked with supporting other combat platforms by performing maritime reconnaissance and intelligence gathering as well as antisubmarine and antisurface warfare. The capabilities of patrol aircraft have evolved; however, as the U.S. military and its allies have shifted their focus away from watching large “blue water” (high seas capable) navies to combat against global terrorism, patrol aircraft have come to provide longrange reconnaissance for ground forces. This entry describes missions and features of patrol aircraft from World War I to the present.

Combat History
World War I

The U.S. Navy patrol aircraft made their combat debut during World War I. During that conflict, naval aviators operated seaplanes from bases in the British Isles, France, and Italy. From ...

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