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A sortie (from the French word meaning exit) is a deployment or dispatch of one military unit, be it an aircraft, ship, or troops, from a strongpoint. The sortie, whether by one or more aircraft or vessels, usually has a specific mission. The sortie rate is the number of sorties that a given unit can support in a given time.

Siege warfare[edit]

In siege warfare, a sortie, or sudden issuing of troops against the enemy from a defensive position, can be launched against the besiegers by the defenders. If the sortie is through a sally port, either to sortie or to sally can be used.

Military aviation[edit]

In military aviation, a sortie is a combat mission of an individual aircraft, starting when the aircraft takes off and ending on its return. For example, one mission involving six aircraft would tally six sorties.

Naval evacuations[edit]

In naval terms it can also be used to describe a full-scale evacuation of a fleet of ships, their accompanying aircraft and submarines from a posting in advance to avoid a natural disaster such as a hurricane.[1]


In spaceflight, especially for NASA's Constellation Program, the term sortie has been used for a flight of the Orion spacecraft beyond the confluence of low-Earth orbit, such as a flight to the Moon or to the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange Point. This term was not used by NASA for the nine Apollo flights that flew by, orbited, or landed on the Moon between 1968 and 1972.


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