Over the past century, aviation technology has evolved exponentially, from the nimble biplanes that contested the skies over France and Flanders in World War I to the modern multi-role stealth fighters coming into service that will define air power for the next half century. World War II demonstrated the tactical and strategic importance of the air arms, where they formed an integral part of the Blitzkrieg and the Allied offensives. The destructive power of modern air forces was nowhere more evident than in the strategic bomber offensives against Germany and Japan where entire cities were laid to waste through aerial bombardment alone, culminating in the dropping of the atomic bombs. Despite its fearsome potential, however, it was only until the 1991 Gulf War when air power could claim to have become a war winning weapon in itself, thanks to advances in technology such as precision weaponry and stealth that gave NATO a considerable lead over its Warsaw Pact adversaries in the final years of the Cold War. These technologies will continue to define airpower into the 21st century where the role of warplanes and helicopters in the modern battlefield will remain undiminished, and as aspiring superpowers like China continue to chip away at the West's current lead in aerial warfare.