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Portal:United States Air Force

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. It is primarally responsible for aerial warfare, space warfare and cyber warfare warfare. 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

X-2 After Drop from B-50 Mothership - GPN-2000-000396.jpg
Test Flight

X-2 rocket plane dropped from mothership B-50 Superfortress.

photo source: U.S. Air Force photos

Article spotlight

F-15E 391st USAF 081215-F-7823A-931.jpg
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.

News Archive

Aerospace vehicle spotlight


The JB-2 "Loon" was the US copy of the German V-1 flying bomb. American engineers at Wright Field reverse engineered a V-1 in June 1944 and then began building an American version of the missile with slight differences from the original German model and the first test launch was done at Eglin Army Air Field in October 1944. The initial production order was for 1,000 JB-2s with an additional 1,000 JB-2s per month. The envisioned end-state was an inventory of 75,000 rockets. Additionally, sea-based and air-based versions of the weapon were also being developed.

US planners had intended to use the JB-2 as part of Operation Downfall, however, the use of atomic weapons and the Japanese surrender rendered the use of JB-2 rockets unnecessary. A total of 1,391 JB-2s were produced. Testing with the rockets continued in the post-war years in air-, ground-, and sea-based capacities. The rocket was used for testing against ground targets as well as a potential anti-aircraft weapon. While the JB-2 was never operationally deployed it served as the foundation for future US ballistic missile systems including the MGM-1 Matador and the MGM-13 Mace.

Biography spotlight

John Levitow.jpg

Sergeant John Levitow (1945 - 2000) was an Air Force loadmaster who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War. Levitow was born in Hartford, Connecticut and initially enlisted into the Air Force as a civil engineer. He later cross-trained to become a loadmaster and was assigned to the 3d Special Operations Squadron.

While flying a patrol mission on 24 February 1969 Levitow's aircraft, an AC-47 Spooky, Long Binh came under attack and the aircraft responded. As the aircraft began to engage it was hit by an 82-millimeter mortar shell throwing shrapnel through the plane. The explosion also caused a burning Mark 24 magnesium flare to be thrown into the fuselage of the aircraft, near 19,000 rounds of ammunition. Despite being wounded by shrapnel Levitow picked up the flare, crawled to the open cargo door, and threw the flare out of the plane. His actions were credited for saving the aircraft and its eight-man crew.

Levitow died of cancer in 2000 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Did you know...?

Charles G Boyd.jpg

...that Charles G. Boyd, USAF, is the only American prisoner of war from the Vietnam War to reach the four-star rank?

A highly decorated combat pilot during the Vietnam War, Boyd's awards include the Air Force Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with combat "V" and two oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters.
Boyd, now retired from the Air Force, is the president and chief executive of Business Executives for National Security.



"Our warriors are no longer limited to the people who fly the airplanes...Our entire force is a warrior force. Being a warrior is not an AFSC (Air Force specialty code),'s a condition of the heart."

— Air Force Chief of Staff, General John P. Jumper

McBride, Sharon (ed.), "Air Force Leadership", The Challenges of Leadership and Command, Air University, p. 1 

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