I do not think there was any operation involving gliders after WWII, and I'd like to know why.

  • 3
    Think helicopters! – Steve Bird Nov 11 '16 at 9:31
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    I think it's a good question, but better asked on Aviation.StackExchange. Gliders were used for small stealthy roles, because they had no propeller and thus no noise to alert the enemy. But today we have radar. – DrZ214 Nov 11 '16 at 9:33
  • Could parachutes be considered gliders in any meaningful context? They operate via similar physics principles and can be steered so as to "glide" diagonally to a target. – Robert Columbia Nov 11 '16 at 22:05
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    A better question for History.SE, I think, would be to ask whether gliders are still used in military operations. – Robert Columbia Nov 11 '16 at 22:06

Large gliders became obsolete. They were easy to detect once radars had become smaller and more common than they were during WWII. Their ability to evade radar-controlled anti-aircraft fire would have been very limited, and surface-to-air missiles would slaughter them.

Helicopters were much more versatile, could fly significant distances very low to avoid radar, and could extract troops as well as insert them. They were more useful all round, so they replaced specialist glider units.

The remaining advantage of gliders is quietness. Some special operations forces may train with hang-gliders for quiet small-scale insertions, but such operations tend not to be publicised.

  • 1
    In addition to helicopters, the modern steerable parachute also helped to make gliders obsolete, as it allowed quiet insertion while enabling the troops to land close together on a given target. – Steve Bird Nov 11 '16 at 9:54
  • Thanks for your answer, you made a good point with the radar. But those glider are really cheap to made ( And modern European governments love to choose equipment because of their cost, even if they are not really effective... ) and most of the operation today are made against ennemy that doesn't own any detection capability. Moreover, you can make larger scale infiltration ( Special forces use also HAHO jumps for this, but it's much more difficult to do so with an airborne infantry company ). Gliders would be great for this ( and you don't have to use qualified soldiers for this ). – Elcyr Nov 11 '16 at 9:56
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    Gliders may be cheap, but modern troops definitely are not. And gliders would tend to break in practice. – John Dallman Nov 11 '16 at 10:39
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    The U-2 has an engine - quite a powerful one - and takes off under its own power, so it is not a glider. Its aerodynamics are somewhat like those of a long-endurance glider, but it's definitely powered. – John Dallman Nov 12 '16 at 7:06
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    @user14394 The fact the U2 has an engine makes it quite unequivocally not a glider. Nor does it carry soldiers. Nice comment thanks for playing. – Anaryl Nov 13 '16 at 13:23

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