In a military context, a high-value asset (HVA) is a ship, aircraft, sensor, or other system that either is an exceptionally potent weapon, or a force multiplier. The idea of putting the HVA at the center of concentric rings of escorts developed in the Second World War with aircraft carrier and amphibious ships, as well as dedicated flagships, in the innermost, most protected positions.
When in a combat area, high-value assets such as C3I-ISR aircraft (e.g., radar, command and control, intelligence) and tanker aircraft are surrounded by escorts. Russian air-to-air missile designers have spent considerable effort in developing long-range radar and weapons, such as the Novator R-172 missile, for engaging airborne HVAs from outside their escort protection.
Even in areas considered safe, the most stringent protective measures surround assets such as nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, command and control centers, intelligence facilities, the largest transport aircraft, etc. In addition to fences and other barriers, as well as sensors, there may be a guard force preauthorized to use deadly force on intruders.