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Portal:United States Air Force

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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

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Photo credit: Staff Sergeant Jerry Fleshman, 7 April 2009. USAF photo.
Fill 'er Up

photo source: Air Force Link

Article spotlight

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The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF). It was created on 1 December 1941 by Administrative Order 9, with Major General John F. Curry as the first CAP national commander. Civil Air Patrol is credited with sinking at least two German U-boats during World War II. Today, CAP is no longer called on to destroy submarines, but is instead is dedicated to education and national service. It is a volunteer organization with a strongly aviation-minded membership. It performs four key missions: emergency services (including search and rescue), aerospace education for youth and the general public, cadet programs, and homeland security.

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

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The JN-4 "Jenny" is the series of biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. The aircraft was designed as an evolutionary improvement to the earlier JN-1 and JN-2 trainers. The aircraft had a service ceiling of 6,500 ft (2,000 m) and a maximum speed of 75 mph (121 km/h). A total of 6,813 JN-4s were produced.

The earlier JN-3 was employed as an observation aircraft during the Mexican Expedition. The next iteration of the Jenny saw service during World War I as the primary trainer aircraft for the United States. A few were outfitted with weapons for advanced training, but the JN-4 did not see combat. The JN-4s were sold off as more advanced aircraft replaced the Jennys. Many were used for stunt flying and conducting aerobatic displays.

Biography spotlight

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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.

Did you know...?

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...that Tops In Blue performed at Super Bowl XIX? The music group, composed of 35 Air Force personnel, was first formed in 1953 following an Air Force talent competition. Each year a new group is selected from applicants from across the Air Force. After a 45-day training period the group tours venues worldwide, building morale and acting as goodwill ambassadors.


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"If our air forces are never used, they have achieved their finest goal."

- General Nathan F. Twining, 31 March 1956

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