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Portal:United States Air Force

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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

Airman Homecoming.jpg

Photo credit: Master Sergeant Dean Miller, 7 July 2009. USAF photo.

A captain greets his daughter after his return from a deployment.

photo source: USAF Public Affairs

Article spotlight


MiG Alley was the name of an air corridor over the northwest part of North Korea. During the Korean War MiG Alley saw the first large scale jet combat mostly between F-86 Sabre and Soviet-built MiG-15 Fagot aircraft. The area became known for fierce aerial combat after Chinese and Soviet pilots began flying against United Nations forces. The jet-on-jet combat continued from November 1950 until the armistice on 27 July 1953. The actual number of aircraft shot down by both sides over MiG Alley has never been fully confirmed with both sides claiming more kills than the opposing side acknowledged losses. Regardless of the actual numbers, however, the aerial combat claimed many lives through the course of the war.

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

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.

Did you know...?


...that Major Oscar F. Perdomo downed five Japanese aircraft in a single day and thereby became the United States' last "Ace of a day" of World War II?


Michael B. Donley.jpg

"Recommitting to our own high standards is the foundation for our success in every mission area, not just our nuclear enterprise. To this end, I charge the Air Force to:

- Continue leaning forward in every respect in support of Joint operations
- Ensure that our core values of Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do underpin every action, by every Airman, at all times
- Commit to individual and organizational accountability
- Critically examine our internal processes, restore discipline, identify weaknesses, and aggressively solve problems
- Overcome any challenge that impinges on our credibility, readiness, or the trust placed in us by others - Do our mission for the Nation, and do it well "

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, June 30, 2008

Donley, Michael B. (June 30, 2008). "Letter to Airman". Senior Leaders Viewpoints. United States Air Force. Retrieved February 19, 2009. 

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