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Portal:United States Air Force

The United States Air Force portal

Emblem of the United States Air Force

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially established as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated ISR, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.

The U.S. Air Force is a military service branch organized within the Department of the Air Force, one of the three military departments of the Department of Defense. The Air Force, through the Department of the Air Force, is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Air Force, who reports to the Secretary of Defense, and is appointed by the President with Senate confirmation. The highest-ranking military officer in the Air Force is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who exercises supervision over Air Force units and serves as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Air Force forces are assigned, as directed by the Secretary of Defense, to the combatant commanders, and neither the Secretary of the Air Force nor the Chief of Staff of the Air Force have operational command authority over them.

Along with conducting independent air and space operations, the U.S. Air Force provides air support for land and naval forces and aids in the recovery of troops in the field. As of 2017, the service operates more than 5,369 military aircraft, 406 ICBMs and 170 military satellites. It has a $161 billion budget and is the second largest service branch, with 318,415 active duty personnel, 140,169 civilian personnel, 69,200 Air Force Reserve personnel, and 105,700 Air National Guard personnel.

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Picture spotlight


Photo credit: Master Sergeant Andy Dunaway, 23 April 2008. DoD photo.
Standing Guard

Air Force Security Forces fly away team members guard a C-130 Hercules in Afghanistan.

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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.

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


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

Joseph McConnell.JPG

Captain Joseph C. McConnell (1922–1954) is the highest scoring American ace from the Korean War. He was originally from Dover, New Hampshire. He entered the Army Air Forces during World War II and served as a B-24 Liberator navigator. After the war he entered flight training and became a fighter pilot.

After the Korean War broke out McConnell was assigned to the 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron flying an F-86 Sabre named "Beautious Butch" in honor of his wife, Pearl "Butch" Brown. McConnell acquired all of his aerial victories during a four-month period, from January-May 1953. In April he was shot down, but successfully ejected and was rescued in the Yellow Sea. On 18 May he shot down 3 MiGs bringing his total to 16 victories. After that he was removed from combat duty and was reassigned to the United States. For his efforts McConnell was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross and a Silver Star.

After he returned to the U.S. McConnell was assigned as a test pilot flying the newest Sabre model, the F-86H. During one of his test flights the control system malfunctioned. The aircraft crashed, killing McConnell.

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The SR-71 Blackbird holds the record for flying from New York City to London. The record, 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds (mach 2.68), was set on 1 September 1974 and is still the record for this transatlantic flight.


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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