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 formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established 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 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, 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 components are assigned, as directed by the Secretary of Defense, to the combatant commands, 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. , 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 airmen, 140,169 civilian personnel, 69,200 reserve airmen, and 105,700 Air National Guard airmen.
Aerospace vehicle spotlight
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the US Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 planes, the Boeing entry outperformed both the other competitors and more than met the Air Corps' expectations. Although Boeing lost the contract due to the prototype's crash, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing's design that they ordered 13 B-17s. The B-17 Flying Fortress went on to enter full-scale production and was considered the first truly mass-produced large aircraft, eventually evolving through numerous design advancements, from B-17A to G.
The B-17 was primarily employed in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and civilian targets. The United States Eighth Air Force based in England and the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy complemented the RAF Bomber Command's nighttime area bombing in Operation Pointblank, to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for Operation Overlord. The B-17 also participated, to a lesser extent, in the War in the Pacific.
From its pre-war inception, the USAAC touted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a potent, high-flying, long-ranging bomber capable of unleashing great destruction yet able to defend itself. With the ability to return home despite extensive battle damage, its durability, especially in belly-landings and ditchings, quickly took on mythic proportions. Stories and photos of B-17s surviving battle damage widely circulated, boosting its iconic status. Despite an inferior range and bombload compared to the more numerous B-24 Liberator, a survey of Eighth Air Force crews showed a much higher rate of satisfaction in the B-17. With a service ceiling greater than any of its Allied contemporaries, the B-17 established itself as a superb weapons system, dropping more bombs than any other US aircraft in World War II. Of the 1.5 million tonnes of bombs dropped on Germany, 500,000 were dropped from B-17s.
General Curtis Emerson LeMay (1906–1990) was an aviation pioneer serving in the United States Air Force.
He is credited with designing and implementing an effective systematic strategic bombing campaign in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. After the war, he headed the Berlin airlift, then reorganized the Strategic Air Command into an effective means of conducting nuclear war.
Curtis Emerson LeMay was born in Columbus, Ohio on 15 November 1906. On 9 June 1964 he married Helen E. Maitland, and had one child with her (Patricia Jane LeMay Lodge). LeMay died on 1 October 1990.
General LeMay's positions included: Commander, 305th Bomb Group; Commander, 4th Bombardment Wing; Commander, 3d Bomb Division; Commander, XX Bomber Command; Commander, XXI Bomber Command; Deputy Chief of Air Staff for Research and Development; Commander, United States Air Forces in Europe; Commander, Strategic Air Command; Vice-Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force; Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force; and American Independent Party Vice-Presidential Candidate.