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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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Picture spotlight

FB-111 Formation.jpg

Photo credit:United States Air Force, Master Sergeant Buster Kellum
Formation Flying

Two FB-111 Aardvarks flying in formation

Article spotlight


Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station is a facility located within Cheyenne Mountain southwest of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The facility was constructed in the early 1960s to provide a survivable installation to house the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and is responsible for monitoring all aerospace over North America for external threats. The installation was designed and built with the Cold War Soviet nuclear threat in mind. Consequently, it is capable of withstanding a 30-megaton blast within 1 nautical-mile (1.9 km). It is also capable of withstanding seismic shock and an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) while remaining entirely self-sufficient for brief periods of time.

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

F-80C 8FBW Aug 1952.JPEG

The P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces. It was introduced into active service in July 1945, during the closing weeks of World War II, however, the aircraft did not see combat during the war. The Army Air Forces, and later the Air Force, acquired more than 1,700 of the aircraft before the end of the production run in 1950. The aircraft saw extensive action during the opening phases of the Korean War. However, as the more nimble F-86 Sabre came into service the P-80s were primarily assigned to ground attack and photo reconnaissance roles.

The P-80 design was the basis of the T-33 Shooting Star trainer aircraft. The Shooting Star airframe became the primary jet trainer as the Air Force migrated to more advanced fighters.

Biography spotlight

Sijan 2lt.jpg

Captain Lance Sijan (1942–1968) received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Sijan entered the United States Air Force Academy in 1961. He graduated in 1965 and received a commission as a Second Lieutenant before going into flight training to become a F-4 Phantom II pilot. After training Sijan was assigned to the 366th Fighter Wing at Da Nang Air Base.

During a combat mission on 9 November 1967 Sijan's aircraft suffered catastrophic damage forcing him to eject. Several aircraft were damaged, and one was shot down, during an attempt to rescue him from North Vietnam leading him to wave off further rescue attempts because of the risk to friendly aircraft. Despite severe injuries Sijan evaded capture for 46 days before the North Vietnamese found him. He was sent to the Hoa Lo Prison (better known as the Hanoi Hilton) where he died on 22 January 1968.

Sijan was posthumously promoted to captain and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. His remains were repatriated in 1974 and are interred at the Arlington Park Cemetery, Milwaukee.

Did you know...?

North American B-25B Mitchell USAF.jpg

...that the National Museum of the United States Air Force is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum? Located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio the museum includes more than 400 aircraft and missiles and attracts more than 1.3 million visitors annually.



"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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