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This study attempts to show the misapplication of tactical airpower by the Luftwaffe in support of German ground forces during the Battle of Kursk in July 1943. The analysis is based on an investigation of historical references and provides lessons learned which might be applied in future conflicts.
The study shows that the Luftwaffe concentrated its efforts at Kursk on Close Air Support and neglected Battlefield Air Interdiction. This was primarily because Close Air Support had proven itself so successful in German experience prior to Kursk. However, the failure of the Luftwaffe to interdict Russian reinforcements at Kursk proved to be critical and contributed to the German defeat.
Air planners must realize that a correct balance between Close Air Support and Battlefield Air Interdiction is essential to the efficient use of airpower during any tactical application in support of ground forces. Neither Close Air Support nor Battlefield Air Interdiction should gain primacy in doctrine, rather, a mix of the two should be applied on a situational basis.