A winged fighter that hasn’t lost a fight in 26 years, a lifesaver that’s part plane and part chopper, and an attack helicopter our enemies call the Black Death. These are America’s undisputed kings of the sky: the F-15 Eagle, the V-22 Osprey, and the AH-64 Apache. And their success stories are as remarkable as they are improbable. Witness their turbulent journeys, brought to life through rarely seen combat footage and the stories of the dedicated pilots and teams who fly and maintain these ultimate air warriors.
It's sleek, powerful, fast, and innovative, with the grace of a chopper and the knockout punch of a fighter jet. The Harrier is the world's most famous short takeoff/vertical landing jet and the Marines' go-to aircraft for close-air support. But despite all of its amazing capabilities, the Harrier has sparked controversy over the years and has been forced to prove itself time and time again. Discover its remarkable story, as told by the men and women who maintain, fly, and fight with this icon of aviation.
Quite simply, the KC-135 Stratotanker is the backbone of American air power. This aerial refueler has allowed America's military aircraft to reach across the globe for the past 60 years, carrying up to 200,000 pounds of fuel with a transfer rate of 1,000 gallons per minute. Join us as we celebrate an aircraft that's always on call, always ready to adapt to unexpected situations, and always carrying enough fuel to feed thirsty U.S. fighter jets and keep them flying around the clock.
Over the last half century, the U-2 Dragon Lady has become one of the most reliable aerial reconnaissance platforms in the sky today. But its history has been turbulent, marked by Cold War scandals that sent relations with the Soviet Union into a nosedive. This spy plane was so secret, it was commissioned not by the Air Force, but by the CIA. See how this plane and its pilots have been pushed to the limit in order to stay off of enemy radar and save the lives of soldiers around the world.
The AC-130 is a heavyweight in a class of its own. The massive gunship brings unparalleled cover for troops on the ground and sheer force to enemy skies, day and night. With its revolutionary side-firing design, the AC-130 revolutionized close air support in the 1960s, but was nearly shelved after its weakness was exposed during Operation Desert Storm. Join us as we show how the latest generation of the plane provides further protection to ground troops as we examine the rise, fall, and rebirth of this legendary aircraft.
The F6F Hellcat was built for one reason: to take on the striking force of Japan's Imperial Navy and its premier dogfighter, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. This is the inside story of how the U.S. Navy, bruised and battered in the Pacific, tasked the engineers at Grumman's to upgrade their current fighters into faster, more agile, and unshakeable warplanes. Witness its creation and impact in the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf, which helped turn the tide of war in the Allies' favor.
It's called Double Ugly, the Rhino, and MiG Killer, but to the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and even NASA, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom is known for being one of the greatest frontline fighters of all time. Witness the remarkable story of an aircraft that was built for the Cold War, chased rockets to advance the Space Race, and transformed itself to serve in Vietnam and Iraq. It's a tale that spans six decades, beginning with a supersonic bang and ending in a blaze of glory.
In modern warfare, those who remain hidden in the skies gain a clear advantage, and there is no spy plane as undetectable as the F-22 Raptor. Get the inside story of how this war machine became the Air Force's premier stealth fighter, from taking on ISIS over the skies of Syria to chasing mysterious bombers over the Alaskan border. Combat footage of the F-22 and its predecessors plus interviews with pilots provide a rare look at this fast, powerful, and sneaky warrior.
The OV-10 Bronco is the Swiss Army Knife of military aviation, faster than a helicopter, more maneuverable than a jet, and able to provide optimal support for troops on the ground in the most difficult of environments. Follow the journey of this light attack aircraft, from its humble origins five decades ago in the garage of two Marines to its heroic missions in Vietnam. Then see how a disastrous role in Desert Storm nearly grounded the warbird for good until it got a shot at redemption two decades later against ISIS.
For over five decades, the Russian MiG aircraft has been American airpower's fiercest rival, taking on U.S. fighter jets in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. But it first took flight against a common enemy: Nazi Germany. Follow the evolution of this quick, durable, and powerful menace in the skies, from its shaky start in the Second World War to its recent and deadly incarnations. See how its ongoing battle with the U.S. for air superiority has compelled both nations to develop better tactics, training, and aircraft.
It was one of the most unique and deadly warplanes of World War II, with devastating agility and unmatched speeds of over 400 mph. But before the P-38 Lightning seized control of the air from the Japanese and the Germans, some of its pilots were forced to learn on the job. Follow its dogfighting journey, from Alaska to Africa and from Berlin to Tokyo, as the Lightning earned its name, blazing into battle and delivering a killer strike into the hearts of its enemies.
The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the greatest air-to-air fighters in history, entering into combat over the skies of Dunkirk, London, and Malta when Britain needed it most. But before earning its reputation as the defense of the free world, the Spitfire experienced its share of turbulence against the mighty Luftwaffe. Thanks to a radical idea for an elliptical-shaped wing, a Rolls Royce engine, and ace pilots, this is the story of how it ultimately prevailed and helped free the world of tyranny.
The Japanese's A6M Zero was the most feared airplane at the beginning of World War II, designed to cause death and destruction on an incredible scale. With the legendary Zero leading the charge, the Imperial Japanese Navy dominated the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor to Wake Island to the Philippines. To have a shot of winning the war, the U.S. Navy needed to somehow beat this fast, nimble, and lightweight killer. Their solution: exploit the Zero's flaws by pitting its agility against the muscle of the F4U Corsair.
It's fast, it's acrobatic, and it's built to get in your face before you even know it's there. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is the lightest fighter in the Air Force inventory, and ushered in a new breed of dogfighter. Witness its origins during the Vietnam War, as the U.S. military raced to create a fighter that could hold its own against the Russian's MiG. Then see how it evolved over the decades, adapted in order to stay relevant, and continued to soar to become the undisputed king of the multirole fighters.
The B-52 Stratofortress is affectionately known as the B.U.F.F., or Big, Ugly, Fat Fellow. Whatever you call it, the B-52 is one imposing beast of a bomber, stretching 159 feet, capable of flying nearly 9,000 miles in a single trip, and able to carry up to 70,000 pounds of weapons at a time. Join us as we crown the Air Force's longest serving heavyweight champ, a global reach aircraft that has, for more than a half a century, led the way in every major U.S. bombing campaign, from Korea to Vietnam to Iraq and beyond.
With its long-distance range and highflying dogfighting abilities, the P-51 Mustang was designed to dominate the skies and help end World War II. And it did. Take flight on an aircraft that symbolized the power and romance of the fighter, a plane that continues to stun and amaze today. We track the history of this nimble, robust Air Warrior, from its international origins to the challenges it overcame in the battle for air superiority over Europe, captured through compelling firsthand testimony and rarely seen combat footage.
The C-17 Globemaster III is the Air Force's favorite heavy hauler, a flying warehouse that has stood tall against the mightiest of enemies for decades. Strangely, some of its toughest battles were fought right in America, where critics in Congress nearly scrapped the big gray beast before it even left the ground. This is the story of how the C-17 flew through all opposition to prove it could pull its weight in any situation, as told by the men and women who flew the "Moose" into and out of danger in Eastern Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Power. Strength. Precision. The CH-47 Chinook is not the most glamorous aircraft in the military's inventory, but it's been the Army's go-to helicopter for lifting heavy cargo for decades. The Chinook has proven its worth in every notable conflict since Vietnam, but to live through changing war zones, the aging chopper has needed to learn new tricks. Explore how the Army's oldest heavy hauler evolved, from its birth after the Korean War to its triumphant performances in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond.
Drones: they watch, analyze, even kill without ever risking a pilot's life. These unmanned aerial vehicles can be flown from anywhere on the globe and can get into places never before dreamed. They are widely used by military and civilians alike and can be seen almost everywhere, but exactly where, when, and how did these flying robots come to be? Join us as we follow drones over war zones, wildfires, and into aviation history as we detail their meteoric rise from yesterday's obscure wonder to today's global obsession.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II was made for durability and power. With seeming indestructibility, it can eliminate armored vehicles, tanks, and even buildings with remarkable accuracy, all the while protecting American troops on the ground. Over the decades, it has repeatedly proved its worth, not only on the battlefield but in the eyes of its toughest critic: the U.S. Air Force. Discover the story of the ugly duckling affectionately named "Warthog," and see how this clunky but robust fighter continually out-flies and out-guns its competitors.
What they do is untraceable and highly classified. Instead of utilizing bullets and bombs, they use force and frequency. This is the story of the Prowler, the U.S. Navy's electronic warrior, and its leading counterpart, the Growler. These aircraft are the first line of attack, able to locate, jam, and destroy enemy radar, giving fighter planes more time to complete their missions. With the capability to fight in the electromagnetic spectrum, these Air Warriors have an advantage in the new age of defense.
For decades, the Black Hawk has played a role in nearly every American conflict and is used all over the globe. But how did the UH-60 become the Army's go-to bird? This is the inside story of how the military workhorse got off the ground and became a multi-mission lifesaver. See how its pilots and engineers learned from setbacks and tragedies and expanded Black Hawk's capabilities to improve getting soldiers into and out of the heat of the battle.
Meet the undisputed king of winged fighters, the F-15 Eagle. For decades, it's been the U.S. Air Force's weapon of choice when there's any real chance of air-to-air combat, with an undefeated record since its first combat kill in 1979. We reveal how this sleek, powerful jet overcame its skeptics to dominate the skies. Then we explore how it revolutionized the aviation world through rare footage and captivating stories from the pilots who flew into danger aboard this remarkable and resilient aircraft.
Highly maneuverable, heavily armed, and devastatingly powerful, the U.S. Army's AH-64 Apache is one of the most trusted and lethal weapons in the sky. Called "Black Death" by her foes, she's cast a feared shadow over the battlefield, but this modern chopper was nearly scrapped before ever seeing action. Discover the inside story of the world's premier attack helicopter, from its controversial beginnings, rife with technical challenges and tragic failures, to its remarkable triumphs against enemy forces.
The story of the U.S. Marine's V-22 Osprey is one of transformation. It can convert from helicopter to plane, and back again. But what led to its invention? And how did it survive more than two decades of political turmoil and media scrutiny? Join us as we look back on this historic tiltrotor's tumultuous history. We detail how it escaped the political chopping block, how it built its reputation in battles and on humanitarian rescue efforts, and how it ultimately transformed the landscape of military aviation forever.