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Portal:United States Air Force

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The United States Air Force Portal

Logo of the US Air Force

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

C-17 cockpit 2007-01-19.jpg

Photo credit: Technical Sergeant Shane A. Cuomo, 19 January 2007. USAF photo.
View of the Flight Deck

The flight deck of a C-17 Globemaster III.

photo source: Air Force Link

Article spotlight


The B-52 aircraft crash at Fairchild Air Force Base was a fatal air crash that occurred on June 24, 1994, killing the four crew members of a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52 Stratofortress during a training flight. In the crash, Bud Holland, who was the command pilot of the aircraft based at Fairchild Air Force Base, call sign Czar 52, flew the aircraft beyond its operational parameters and lost control. As a result, the aircraft stalled, impacted the ground, and was completely destroyed. Video of the crash was shown throughout the United States on news broadcasts.

The accident investigation concluded that the chain of events leading to the crash was primarily attributable to Holland's personality and behavior, USAF leaders' reactions to it, and the sequence of events during the mishap flight of the aircraft. Today, the crash is used in military and civilian aviation environments as a case study in teaching crew resource management. Also, the crash is often used by the USAF during safety training as an example of the importance of compliance with safety regulations and correcting the behavior of anyone who violates safety procedures.

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

Gen Mark A. Welsh III CSAF.jpg

General Mark A. Welsh III, USAF is the 20th and current Chief of Staff of the Air Force. As Chief of Staff, he serves as the senior uniformed Air Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipping of nearly 700,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the United States and overseas. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the general and other service chiefs function as military advisers to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council and the President. He assumed his current assignment in August, 2012. General Welsh is a command pilot with more than 3,300 flying hours in a variety of aircraft.

Did you know...?

...of the three active bombers in the Air Force fleet, the B-52 Stratofortress, the B-1 Lancer, and the B-2 Spirit, all were designed to be capable of delivering strategic nuclear weapons, but only the B-52 has ever actually dropped a nuclear bomb (on 21 May 1956 during Operation Redwing at the Pacific Proving Grounds)?



"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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