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A technology demonstrator is a prototype aircraft that performs experimental flight tests, modified from a certain variant of a production design. Engineers and scientists often research and experiment with technology demonstrators for ideas of futuristic aircraft. These include new military jetfighter designs, rocket planes and spacecraft. It is important that scientists make sure the aircraft is safe and functions properly before producing it, and testing the technology upgrades is by far the safest way to do it
Ground-attack aircraft can be used to provide support for friendly ground troops. Some are able to carry conventional or nuclear weapons far behind enemy lines to strike priority ground targets. Attack helicopters attack enemy armor and provide close air support for ground troops.
Bombers are normally larger, heavier, and less maneuverable than fighter aircraft. They are capable of carrying large payloads of bombs. Bombers are used almost exclusively for ground attacks and not fast or agile enough to take on enemy fighters head-to-head. A few have a single engine and require one pilot to operate and others have two or more engines and require crews of two or more.
The main role of Fighters is destroying enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat. Many are fast and highly maneuverable. They are capable of carrying a variety of weapons, including machine guns and guided missiles. Many modern fighters can attack from a great distance.
A Multirole combat aircraft can be a fighter or a bomber, depending on what the mission calls for. This term normally only applies to fixed-wing aircraft.
Reconnaissance aircraft are primarily used to gather intelligence. They are equipped with photographic, infrared, radar, and television sensors. Some are equipped with special electronic gear for detecting submarines, such as sonar, and others can give early warnings of enemy approach. This role is increasingly being filled by spy satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Military transport aircraft are primarily used to transport troops and supplies. Cargo can be attached to pallets for quick unloading. Cargo also may be discharged from flying aircraft onparachutes. Also included in this category are aerial tankers; these planes can refuel other aircraft while in flight. Helicopters and gliders can transport troops and supplies to areas where other aircraft would be unable to land.
Experimental aircraft aircraft are designed in order to test advanced aerodynamic, structural, avionic, or propulsion concepts. These are usually well instrumented, with performance data telemetered on radio-frequency data links to ground stations located at the test ranges where they are flown.