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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Kee Bird The Day It Crashed - 19 Feb 1947.png

The Kee Bird was a B-29 Superfortress that was specially modified to conduct photo reconnaissance. The aircraft was assigned to the 46th Reconnaissance Squadron based at Ladd Army Airfield, Alaska where it initially flew missions designed to test equipment and procedures for arctic operations and train flight crews for arctic missions. On 20 February 1947 the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Greenland. The crew was rescued after a four-day search effort, however, the Kee Bird was unable to fly and left on the ice. In 1994 an aircraft restoration team flew to the crash site and attempted to restore the Kee Bird, however, their attempt to fly it out in May 1995 resulted in a fire that destroyed much of the Kee Bird. The wreckage now lies at the bottom of a frozen lake in Greenland.

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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.

Source:http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2011/07/air-force-c-130-replacing-older-engines-072011w/
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Aerospace vehicle spotlight

Jb2-1.jpg

The JB-2 "Loon" was the US copy of the German V-1 flying bomb. American engineers at Wright Field reverse engineered a V-1 in June 1944 and then began building an American version of the missile with slight differences from the original German model and the first test launch was done at Eglin Army Air Field in October 1944. The initial production order was for 1,000 JB-2s with an additional 1,000 JB-2s per month. The envisioned end-state was an inventory of 75,000 rockets. Additionally, sea-based and air-based versions of the weapon were also being developed.

US planners had intended to use the JB-2 as part of Operation Downfall, however, the use of atomic weapons and the Japanese surrender rendered the use of JB-2 rockets unnecessary. A total of 1,391 JB-2s were produced. Testing with the rockets continued in the post-war years in air-, ground-, and sea-based capacities. The rocket was used for testing against ground targets as well as a potential anti-aircraft weapon. While the JB-2 was never operationally deployed it served as the foundation for future US ballistic missile systems including the MGM-1 Matador and the MGM-13 Mace.

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...?

The SR-71 Blackbird holds the record for flying from New York City to London. The record, 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds (mach 2.68), was set on 1 September 1974 and is still the record for this transatlantic flight.

Quotes

This B-17 met a head-on attack by three Focke Wulf Fw 190 fighters. The gunners exploded two of them, and the top turret poured a stream of shells into the cockpit of the third. With a dead man at the controls, the fighter screamed in, and at a closing speed of 550 miles per hour smashed head-on into the number-three engine.

The tremendous impact of the crash tore off the propeller. It knocked the heavy bomber completely out of formation as though a giant hand has swatted a fly. The fighter cartwheeled crazily over the B-17.

It cut halfway through the wing, and then sliced a third of the way through the horizontal stabilizer. The top and ball turrets immediately jammed, the radio equipment was smashed to wreckage, and all the instruments "went crazy." Pieces of metal from the exploding, disintegrating Focke Wulf tore through the fuselage, and a German gun barrel buried itself in the wall between the radio room and the bomb bay.

Crews of nearby bombers watched the collision. They saw a tremendous explosion, and the bomber hurtling helplessly out of control, tumbling as she fell. They reported when they returned to base that the Flying Fortress had blown up, and that the crew must be considered dead.

The old Queen hadn't blown up, and the crew was far from dead. The pilots struggled wildly in the cockpit, and somehow between them, managed to bring their careening bomber back under control. The gunners shot down a fourth fighter that had closed in to watch the proceedings.

And then they brought her all the way back to England, and scraped her down for a belly landing on the runway.

Postscript: not a man was injured.

- Caidin, Martin (1960). Black Thursday. E. P. Dutton & Co. ISBN 0553267299.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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