Portal:United States Air Force

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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. 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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Operation Linebacker II was a U.S. Air Force Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 maximum effort aerial bombardment campaign, conducted against targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV or North Vietnam) during the final period of the American commitment to the Vietnam War. The operation, which contrasted with Operation Rolling Thunder's (1965-1968) graduated bombing, was conducted from 18 December to 29 December 1972, and saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the U.S. Air Force since the end of the Second World War. Linebacker II was a resumption of the Operation Linebacker bombings conducted from May to October, with the emphasis of the new campaign shifted to attacks by B-52 Stratofortress bombers rather than tactical fighter aircraft.


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.

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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

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...?

Carl Spaatz.jpg

...that General Carl A. Spaatz was the only General or equivalent rank that was present at three World War II capitulations: he was present at Rheims when the Germans surrendered to the Americans on May 7, 1945; he was at Berlin when the Germans surrendered to the Russians on May 9, 1945; and he was aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese unconditional surrender on September 2, 1945.


When we refused to be forced out of Berlin, we demonstrated to the people of Europe that with their cooperation we would act, and act resolutely, when their freedom was threatened.

— U.S. President Harry S. Truman, remarks on the Berlin Airlift, after the Berlin Blockade was lifted by the Soviets in May 1949.






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