A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground targets.
- Strategic bombers are primarily designed for long-range strike missions against strategic targets such as supply bases, bridges, factories, and shipyards. Examples: B-17 Flying Fortress, Avro Lancaster, B-52 Stratofortress, Tupolev Tu-16.
- Ground-attack (or close-support) aircraft are designed to loiter over a battlefield and attack tactical targets, such as tanks, troop concentrations, etc. Examples: Stuka, Il-2 Sturmovik, A-10 Warthog, Sukhoi Su-25.
- Attack aircraft (aka fighter-bombers) are multi-role combat aircraft which can be equipped for either air-to-air combat or air-to-ground combat. Examples: Hawker Typhoon, F/A-18 Hornet and the Panavia Tornado.
United States Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber.
Strategic bombers often have some defensive armament, but they are not designed to engage in combat with other aircraft. They are relatively large, slow, and unmanoeuvrable. If enemy air opposition is expected, bombers must be escorted. Attack aircraft are smaller, faster, and more agile, but less-so than a fighter when armed for a ground attack mission, and carry insufficient air-to-air weaponry for protracted combat unless loaded specifically for an air-to-air mission. Typically, combat aircraft intended for ground attack duties are camouflaged in the colours of vegetation whilst interceptors and aircraft intended for "dogfighting" other airplanes at altitude are finished in light blues or greys, so that their presence and trajectory are harder to see against the sky.
The first true stealth aircraft was the F-117 Nighthawk, primarily a ground attack aircraft. It is built by Lockheed Martin, the company with the largest U.S. Defense Department contract.
The U.S. Air Force's most expensive bomber is the B-2. It is a stealth bomber built by Northrop Grumman. Its price tag was near $2 billion per aircraft. Like its non-stealth counterparts B-1 and B-52, the B-2 has a range limited only by crew endurance, due to in-flight refueling
No other nations continue to fly a strategic bomber, with the phase-out of the British V-Bomber force in the 1990s. Uninterceptible ICBMs meant delivering nuclear weapons became a lower priority (and in any case, jet fighters can carry modern devices), and for conventional bombing, modern fighters can now carry a bomb load comparable to most World War II bombers (except the B-29 Superfortress ) and using guided weaponry can deliver it far more accurately. In any case, developing and maintaining a bomber fleet is a massively expensive task and one which most nations do not have the resources, requirements or desire to pursue at present.
See also: bomb, bombing, V bomber, light bomber, dive-bombers, torpedo-bombers, strategic bombers, stealth bombers, low-level bombing, carpet bombing, cruise missiles, Kamikaze, aerial bombing of cities
A bomber is also a person who plants bombs (destroying property and/or killing individuals).
See also suicide bombing.