In military aviation, area bombardment (or area bombing) is aerial bombardment targeted indiscriminately at a large area, such as a city block or an entire city.
Area bombing is a form of strategic bombing. It could serve two distinct purposes: terrorizing civilians (see terror bombing), and diverting an enemy's industrial and military resources from the primary battlefield to air defense.
The term "area bombing" came into prominence during World War II, most notably in Britain's Area Bombing Directive, and it quickly became a de facto synonym of aerial bombing of cities. The public has commonly adopted the term "carpet bombing" (also "saturation bombing" and "obliteration bombing") for heavy area bombings. At the time area bombing was contrasted with precision bombing. The latter was directed at a selected target â€“ not necessarily a small, and not necessarily a tactical target, as it could be an airfield or a factory - and it did not intend to inflict a widespread damage (at least by appearance).