Strategic bombing is a military tactic used in total war with the aim of defeating the enemy by destroying its morale, its economic capacity to create and transport equipment to the theatres of military operations, or both. It is one of the most effective methods of defeating the adversary. Airstrikes are a methodically planned and performed assault from the air that may include the use of strategic bombers, long- or medium-range missiles, or nuclear-armed fighter-bomber aircraft against targets considered critical to the adversary's war-making capabilities.
It is one of the most effective military methods to demoralise an adversary to the point that peace or surrender seems preferable than prolonging the struggle. This has been accomplished via the use of strategic bombing. Commentators and historians have referred to several strategic bombing operations and individual attacks as "terror bombing" after the conclusion of World War II, and many of them have been classified as such by commentators and historians. For this reason, some people, notably the Allies during World War II, have opted to employ euphemisms such as "will to resist" and "morale bombs" instead of the word "morale bombings."
While both world wars were going on, the theoretical difference between tactical and strategic air warfare was being worked out. Leading theorists of strategic air warfare throughout this time period were the Italian Giulio Douhet, the Trenchard school in the United Kingdom, and General Billy Mitchell of the United States Army Air Forces. As shown by Stanley Baldwin's 1932 remark that the bomber would always get through, these thinkers were very influential, both in terms of the military basis for an autonomous air force (such as the Royal Air Force) and in terms of influencing political thinking on a future conflict.
- Longmate 1983, pp. 122,123 harv error: no target: CITEREFLongmate1983 (help) quoting the Singleton Report
- Barrett Tillman (2014). Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler's War Machine. Simon and Schuster. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-62157-235-0.