Portal:United States Air Force

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The United States Air Force Portal

Seal of the US Air Force

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial warfare branch of the armed forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. Initially part of the United States Army as the Army Air Corps, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947. It was the last branch of the US military to be formed.

The USAF is one of the largest and most technologically advanced air forces in the world, with about 5,573 manned aircraft in service (3,990 USAF; 1,213 Air National Guard; and 370 Air Force Reserve); approximately 180 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles, 2130 Air-Launched Cruise Missiles, and 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles; and has 330,159 personnel on active duty, 68,872 in the Selected and Individual Ready Reserves, and 94,753 in the Air National Guard. In addition, the Air Force employs 151,360 civilian personnel.

The Department of the Air Force is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Air Force who heads administrative affairs. The Department of the Air Force is a division of the Department of Defense, headed by the Secretary of Defense. The highest ranking military officer in the Department of the Air Force is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

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Article spotlight

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Photo credit:SSgt. Aaron Allmon, USAF, 15 December 2008.

366th Fighter Wing is a composite unit of the United States Air Force headquartered at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Originally activated as the 366th Fighter Group on 10 June 1943, the wing has served in World War II, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and the Global War on Terror. The 366th currently consists of two squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagles, one squadron of F-15C Eagle.

USAF news

Service considering retrofitting late-model C-130's with new engines

Summary: The U.S. Air Force is interested in procuring commercial off-the-shelf engines to replace antiquated propulsion systems on C-130 aircraft. At a technology summit in Arlington, Virginia, General Philip Breedlove told of the service's efforts to follow up on the successes of the C-130J upgrade with commercially available fuel efficient engines. Breedlove says the prioritization of use of C-130J's in inter-theater operations for cost savings has tied up logistics. The C-130 also suffers from performance and maintenance issues that have led to the cancellation of the FCS Manned Ground Vehicles program that was unable to fall within weight parameters while maintaining protection requirements. While enhancing the current generation of aircraft, the Air Force is also heading an initiative to develop fuel efficient technologies for the next generation of propulsion systems. the ADaptive Versatile ENgine Technology program seeks to develop an engine that is 30% more efficient than the F119 or F135 engines that power the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft. The Versatile, Affordable, Advanced Turbine Engines and Highly Efficient Embedded Turbine Engine programs are also being pursued to develop propulsion technologies for sub-sonic military aircraft.

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Aerospace vehicle spotlight

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The P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces. It was introduced into active service in July 1945, during the closing weeks of World War II, however, the aircraft did not see combat during the war. The Army Air Forces, and later the Air Force, acquired more than 1,700 of the aircraft before the end of the production run in 1950. The aircraft saw extensive action during the opening phases of the Korean War. However, as the more nimble F-86 Sabre came into service the P-80s were primarily assigned to ground attack and photo reconnaissance roles.

The P-80 design was the basis of the T-33 Shooting Star trainer aircraft. The Shooting Star airframe became the primary jet trainer as the Air Force migrated to more advanced fighters.

Biography spotlight

Maj Nicole Malachowski, USAF Thunderbirds.jpg

Lieutenant Colonel Nicole Malachowski (b. 1974) grew up in southern Nevada. While in high school she joined the Civil Air Patrol and was active in Air Force Junior ROTC. After graduating from high school she enrolled at the United States Air Force Academy where she graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Management with a minor in French.

Lieutenant Colonel Malachowski trained as a F-15E Strike Eagle pilot. She has served overseas at RAF Lakenheath, England, Camp Red Cloud, South Korea, and in the United States at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Additionally, she has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2005 she was selected to become the first female pilot for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team. Upon completion of her tour with the Thunderbirds Major Malachowski was accepted into the White House Fellows program. She currently has more than 1,800 flying hours including more than 1,000 hours in the F-15E Strike Eagle.

Did you know...?

Toast to General Duncan McNabb.jpg

...that the Order of the Sword was first awarded in May 1967? It is the highest honor the Air Force enlisted corps can bestow upon an individual. The Order of the Sword is typically presented to senior Air Force officers in recognition of their dedicated service.


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"This business – defending our Nation – is all about trust. The American people place special confidence in us:

- to do the right thing, even in the face of danger;
- to keep our Nation safe, even in times of struggle;
- and win our Nation’s wars, even against a most elusive foe."
Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton A. Schwartz, 30 Sept 2008

Schwartz, General Norton A. (September 30, 2008). "The Air Force: fighting today's war" (Purple Heart presentation ceremony, Walter Reed Army Medical Center). Air Force Link. United States Air Force. Retrieved December 15, 2008. 

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