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Portal:United States Air Force

The United States Air Force Portal

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The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is primarily responsible for aerial warfare, space warfare and cyber warfare warfare. Initially part of the United States Army as the Army Air Forces, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military, equal to the Army and Navy, on September 18, 1947. It the youngest service branch in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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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After the Storm

Photo credit:Air Force Photo

Article spotlight

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Established in 1954, the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) is an institution for the undergraduate education of officers for the United States Air Force. Graduates of the four-year program receive a Bachelor of Science degree and most are commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force.

The program at the Academy is guided by its core values of "Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do," and based on four "pillars" of excellence: military training, academics, athletics and character development. In addition to a rigorous military training regimen, cadets also take a broad academic course load with an extensive core curriculum in engineering, humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, military studies and physical education. All cadets participate in either intercollegiate or intramural athletics, and a thorough character development and leadership curriculum provide cadets a basis for future officership. Each of the components of the program is intended to give cadets the skills and knowledge that they will need for success as officers.

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 JN-4 "Jenny" is the series of biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. The aircraft was designed as an evolutionary improvement to the earlier JN-1 and JN-2 trainers. The aircraft had a service ceiling of 6,500 ft (2,000 m) and a maximum speed of 75 mph (121 km/h). A total of 6,813 JN-4s were produced.

The earlier JN-3 was employed as an observation aircraft during the Mexican Expedition. The next iteration of the Jenny saw service during World War I as the primary trainer aircraft for the United States. A few were outfitted with weapons for advanced training, but the JN-4 did not see combat. The JN-4s were sold off as more advanced aircraft replaced the Jennys. Many were used for stunt flying and conducting aerobatic displays.

Biography spotlight

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General Carl Andrew Spaatz (June 28, 1891–July 14, 1974) was an American general in World War II, and the first Chief of Staff of the US Air Force. Carl Andrew Spaatz was born on June 28, 1891, in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. He attended West Point, where he graduated in 1914. He served briefly in the infantry but was assigned to military aviation in October 1915.

Spaatz was appointed to the assistant to the Chief of Air Corps in October 1940 with the temporary rank of brigadier general. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war, he was named commander of Air Forces Combat Command in January 1942 and promoted to the temporary rank of major general (he was subsequently promoted to the permanent rank of colonel in September 1942). Spaatz received a temporary promotion to lieutenant general in March 1943; and a temporary promotion to General in March 1945.

In July 1945, President Truman nominated Spaatz for promotion to the permanent rank of major general. Spaatz was appointed commanding general of the Army Air Forces in February 1946 following the retirement of his friend General Henry H. Arnold. After the creation of the independent Air Force by the National Security Act of 1947 and Truman's Executive Order No. 9877, Spaatz was appointed as the first Chief of Staff of the new United States Air Force in September 1947.

Spaatz retired from the military at the rank of general in June 1948. He also served on the Committee of Senior Advisors to the Air Force Chief of Staff, from 1952 until his death. From 1948 until 1959, he served as National Commander of the Civil Air Patrol. In 1954, Spaatz was appointed to the congressional advisory board set up to determine the site for the new United States Air Force Academy. Spaatz died on July 14, 1974 and is buried at the Academy's cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Did you know...?

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... that during Operation Safe Haven aircraft from the Military Air Transport Service airlifted between 15,000 and 21,000 refugees fleeing the fighting from the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In the process nearly 20,000 Hungarians found permanent homes in the United States.


Killing Japanese didn't bother me very much at that time... I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal.... Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good soldier.

— General Curtis E. LeMay

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