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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. 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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Picture spotlight

F-15C Eagle from the 67th Fighter Squadron at Kadena AB is refueled by a KC-135R Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron .jpg

Photo credit: Tech Sergeant Angelique Perez25 August 2009. USAF photo.
Airmen in the field

photo source: USAF Public Affairs

Article spotlight

Kee Bird The Day It Crashed - 19 Feb 1947.png

The Kee Bird was a B-29 Superfortress that was specially modified to conduct photo reconnaissance. The aircraft was assigned to the 46th Reconnaissance Squadron based at Ladd Army Airfield, Alaska where it initially flew missions designed to test equipment and procedures for arctic operations and train flight crews for arctic missions. On 20 February 1947 the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Greenland. The crew was rescued after a four-day search effort, however, the Kee Bird was unable to fly and left on the ice. In 1994 an aircraft restoration team flew to the crash site and attempted to restore the Kee Bird, however, their attempt to fly it out in May 1995 resulted in a fire that destroyed much of the Kee Bird. The wreckage now lies at the bottom of a frozen lake in Greenland.

Did you know...?

Chief Master Sergeant Tony Travis.jpg

...that Chief Master Sergeant Antonio D. Travis was named one of the top 100 most influential people of 2010 by TIME Magazine? Chief Travis led the combat control team that deployed to Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response. He and his team led the largest single-runway operation in history during the first two weeks after the 2010 earthquake overseeing more than 4,000 takeoffs and landings, an average of one every five minutes.

Aerospace vehicle spotlight

O-2 Skymaster-1.jpg

The O-2 Skymaster was the military version of the Cessna Skymaster. The aircraft was ordered in 1966 to replace the O-1 Bird Dog as the primary observation aircraft for forward air control (FAC) missions. The first aircraft was delivered in January 1967. A total of 532 aircraft were built in two variants. The A model included hard points on the wings to allow for weapons while the B model removed the weapon hard points in favor of loudspeakers and a leaflet dispenser.

The O-2 was used extensively during the Vietnam War for Forward Air Control missions and psychological operations (PSYOPS). 178 of the aircraft were lost through the course of the war. The USAF continued to fly the O-2 into the late 1980's when it was replaced by OV-10 Bronco and the A-37 Dragonfly.

Biography spotlight

Capt C DeBellevue.jpg

Colonel Charles B. DeBellevue (b. 1945) is the highest scoring American ace of the Vietnam War. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. After high school DeBellevue attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana and earned a commission as a second lieutenant through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1968. After entering the Air Force he completed navigator training and was assigned as a F-4 Phantom II Weapon Systems Officer.

DeBellevue served in the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base from 1971-1972. He is credited with 6 aerial victories during that period, making him the first of two Weapons Systems Officers to become an ace and the highest scoring American ace of the war. Four of his victories were earned while flying with R. Stephen Ritchie and two while flying with John A. Madden, Jr. For his exploits during the war DeBellevue was awarded an Air Force Cross and was a co-recipient of the Mackay Trophy.

After his service in Vietnam DeBellevue returned to flight school and became a pilot, remaining with in the F-4 airframe. Over the course of his career he served in a number of operations and staff position and commanded the 95th Air Base Wing and AFROTC Detachment 440. Colonel DeBellevue retired from active duty in 1998.


Ray Flying Legends 2005-1.jpg

High Flight

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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