Soon after the first flight of the Wright Flyer, several militaries became interested in powered aircraft. In 1909 the US Army purchased the Wright Military Flyer, a two-seat observation aircraft, for the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps. It served until 1911, by which time powered aircraft had become an important feature in several armies around the world. Airplanes performed reconnaissance and tactical bombing missions in the Italo-Turkish war, and the First Balkan War saw the first naval-air operations. Photoreconnaissance and propaganda leaflet drops followed in the Second Balkan War.
Air combat was a notable component of World War I, as fighter aircraft were developed during the war, long-range strategic bombing became a possibility, and airplanes were deployed from aircraft carriers. Airplanes also took on a greater variety of support roles, notably medical evacuation, and deployed new weapons like air-to-air rockets for use against reconnaissance balloons.
Aviation technology advanced rapidly in the interwar period, and military aircraft became increasingly capable. Autogyros and helicopters were also developed at this time.
During World War II, military aviation reached new heights. Decisive air battles influenced the outcome of the war, early jet aircraft flew combat missions, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles were deployed for the first time, airborne troops and cargo parachuted into battle, and the nuclear weapons that ended the war were delivered by air.