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. 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.
Aerospace vehicle spotlight
The T-37 Tweet is a two-seat trainer aircraft. It was designed by Cessna in the mid-1950s in response to the USAF request for a jet trainer. The Cessna design featured twin jet propulsion and side-by-side seating to facilitate flight instruction. Production began in 1955 with the first aircraft entering operations in 1957. The aircraft earned the nickname, "Tweet," because of a constant high-pitch whistle emitted by the aircraft in flight.
The USAF acquired a total of 996 of the aircraft between 1955 and 1973. The Tweet has served as the USAF's basic flight trainer since its first employment. The T-37 was phased out of the inventory in mid-2009 and replaced by the T-6 Texan II for basic flight training.
Cessna did produce a weaponized model of the T-37 for foreign sales. A total of 273 of these 'C' models were built through 1975.