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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Picture spotlight

Photo credit: JO1 Preston Keres, United States Navy
Patrolling the Radomes

BM2 Donald Rouse and Air Force Airman John Yorde make early morning security rounds by the radomes on Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Source: U.S. Navy Photo

Article spotlight


The Nine-O-Nine is a B-17 Flying Fortress that gained fame during World War II for flying 140 combat missions over in the European Theater of Operations from 25 February 1944 to the end of the war in Europe on 7 May 1945. The aircraft was assigned to the 323d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy). Through the course of the war the aircraft dropped 562,000 pounds of bombs, while flying 1,129 hours, including 18 missions over Berlin. After the war the aircraft served as a firefighting aircraft before being restored to its World War II condition. The Nine-O-Nine currently serves flying in air shows with the Collings Foundation.

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

F-84E of 9th Fighter-Bomber Squadron in Korea.jpg

The Republic Aviation Company F-84 Thunderjet was an American-built turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Air Force proposal for a daytime fighter, the F-84 flew in 1946. Although it entered service in 1947, the Thunderjet was plagued by so many structural and engine problems that a 1948 Air Force review declared it unable to execute any aspect of its intended mission and considered cancelling the program. The aircraft was not considered fully operational until the 1949 F-84D model and the design matured only with the definitive F-84G introduced in 1951. In 1954, the straight-wing Thunderjet was joined by the swept-wing F-84F Thunderstreak fighter and RF-84F Thunderflash photo reconnaissance aircraft.

The Strategic Air Command had F-84 Thunderjets (F-84s and RF-84s) in service from 1948 through 1957.

The Thunderjet became the Air Force's primary strike aircraft during the Korean War, flying 86,408 missions, dropping 111,171,000 pounds (50,427 tons) of bombs and 12,258,000 pounds (5,560 tons) of napalm, and destroying 60% of all ground targets in the war as well as eight Soviet-built MiG fighters. Over half of the 7,524 F-84s produced served with NATO nations.

The F-84 was the first aircraft to fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team, the first production fighter aircraft to utilize in-flight refueling, and the first single-seat fighter capable of carrying a nuclear bomb.

Biography spotlight

Edward Vernon Rickenbacker.jpg

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) is the highest scoring American ace of World War I. He was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1890 and at an early age began undertaking high-risk activities. His formal schooling ended when his father died in 1902. However, Rickenbacker had an aptitude for engineering leading him into the automotive field. He became a race car driver and participated in four Indianapolis 500 races.

Rickenbacker was in England when the United States joined World War I. He enlisted in the army and fought to get into flight training. After training he was assigned to the 94th Aero Squadron. Rickenbacker claimed his first aerial victory on 29 April 1918. A month later, on 28 May he claimed his fifth, making him an ace. In all Rickenbacker achieved 26 aerial victories and was awarded a Medal of Honor, seven Distinguished Service Crosses, a French Legion of Honor, and a French Croix de Guerre.

After the war Rickenbacker briefly ran his own car company, ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Eastern Air Lines. During World War II he supported the war effort by touring military facilities in the United States and abroad and even traveled to the Soviet Union to help improve their aerial capabilities. Rickenbacker died in 1973 at the age of 82 in Zürich, Switzerland. He is buried at the Green Lawn Cemetery in his home town of Columbus.

Did you know...?

Air Force Marathon.jpg

... that the United States Air Force Marathon is held annually at Wright Patterson Air Force Base on the Saturday nearest to the Air Force's birthday of 18 September. Events include a 26.2 mile marathon, a half marathon, a wheelchair race, a four-person relay, and a 5k race.


When we refused to be forced out of Berlin, we demonstrated to the people of Europe that with their cooperation we would act, and act resolutely, when their freedom was threatened.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman, remarks on the Berlin Airlift, after the Berlin Blockade was lifted by the Soviets in May 1949.

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