The United States Air Force Portal
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.
Photo credit: USAF photo.
Operation Varsity was the airborne component of Operation Plunder, the allied invasion of Germany on 24 March 1945. A total of 1,702 aircraft and 1,320 gliders, including C-46 Commandos, C-47 Skytrains, C-54 Skymasters, CG-4 Wacos, Airspeed Horsas, and General Aircraft Hamilcar dropped 16,607 members of the British 6th Airborne Division and American 17th Airborne Division. The operation was successful in establishing a bridgehead across the Rhine River aiding a wider Allied advance.
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.
Aerospace Vehicle Spotlight
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed YF-12A and A-12 aircraft by the Lockheed Skunk Works. The SR-71 was unofficially named the Blackbird; its crews often called it the Sled, or the Habu ("snake"). The SR-71 line was in service from 1964, through 1998 for the USAF, through 1999 for NASA. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was the man behind many of the design's advanced concepts. The SR-71 was one of the first aircraft to be shaped to reduce radar cross section. However, the aircraft was not stealthy and still had a large enough radar signature to be tracked by contemporary systems. The aircraft's defense was its high speed and operating altitude; if a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was to simply accelerate. Twelve of the aircraft have been destroyed, though none lost to enemy action.
The SR-71 holds the record for flying from New York to London: 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds, set on 1 September 1974. On 28 July 1976, an SR-71 broke the world record for its class: an absolute speed record of 2,193.1669 mph (3,529.56 km/h), and a US "absolute altitude record" of 85,068.997 feet (25,929 m). In 1990, a retirement flight of the SR-71 set a coast-to-coast speed record at an average 2,124 mph (3,418 km/h). The entire trip was reported as 68 minutes and 17 seconds. Three additional records were set within segments of the flight, including a new absolute top speed of 2,242 mph measured between the radar gates set up in St. Louis and Cincinnati.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Paul W. Airey (1923-2009) was the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. Airey grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts and enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1942, after just two years of high school. During World War II Airey served as a radio operator aboard B-24 Liberators. Airey was held as a prisoner of war from July 1944 to May 1945 after he was forced to bail out over Austria. Following the war Airey also served with distinction during the Korean War.
Airey spent most of the rest of his career as a first sergeant. In 1966 the Air Force followed the lead of the U.S. Army and created a senior enlisted position to advise the Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff on enlisted matters. Airey was selected to fill the job on 3 April 1967. He made retention his top priority. He developed the Weighted Airman Promotion System in an effort to improve the Air Force's enlisted promotion system. He also started the work to establish the Air Force's Senior NCO Academy, though the school didn't open until after his retirement.
Airey retired from the Air Force on 1 April 1970. In retirement Airey continued to be active in Air Force related organizations such as the Air Force Sergeants Association and Air Force Association. He also regularly spoke at Air Force leadership schools. Airey passed away from heart failure at Panama City, Florida on 11 March 2009.
...that before the F-117 Nighthawk was given an official name, the engineers and test pilots referred to the ungainly aircraft, which went into hiding during daylight to avoid detection by Soviet satellites, as "Cockroach"?
- Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
- And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
- Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
- of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
- You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
- High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
- I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
- My eager craft through footless halls of air....
- Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
- I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
- Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
- And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
- The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
- –John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
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