The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have thousands of aircraft in their inventories, performing a wide variety of missions from the decks of ships and from Navy and Marine Corps air stations all over the world. Some of these aircraft were designed speciﬁcally for naval use, but many are used by the other branches of the armed forces as well. Some are ﬁxed-wing and others are rotary-wing (helicopters and tiltrotors). Aircraft typically are defined by their missions.
Fighter aircraft have fixed-wings and are used to destroy other aircraft and incoming missiles. They are the planes you normally would see involved in a “dogfight.” Very fast, highly maneuverable, and armed with antiair weapons, these aircraft often loiter above friendly forces in what are called “combat air patrols” (CAPs) to intercept and engage incoming enemy aircraft or missiles. They also penetrate enemy air space to engage the enemy’s aircraft and escort other kinds of aircraft when they are carrying out their missions in hostile areas.