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United States Air Force

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the Aviation branch of the United States armed forces.

The mission of the USAF is "to defend the United States through control and exploitation of air and space".

Table of contents
1 Organization
2 Brief History
3 External links


There are three components of the USAF:

The Secretary of the Air Force is Dr. James G. Roche. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force is Gen. John P. Jumper. The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force is the senior enlisted man in the Air Force. In 2002 the position was held by CMSgt Gerald R. Murray.

Major Commands

The USAF is organized into nine major commands (MAJCOMS), reporting to Headquarters, United States Air Force:

Major Commands of the USAF
Major Command and CommandersLocation of Headquarters
Air Combat Command (ACC) Langley Air Force Base, Virginia
Air Education & Training Command (AETC) Randolph Air Force Base, Texas
Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Hurlburt Field, Florida
Air Mobility Command (AMC)Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE)Ramstein Air Base, Germany
U.S. Air Forces Pacific (PACAF) Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii

Numbered Air Forces

Air Forces within the major commands:

Air Forces
Air ForceLocation of HeadquartersMajor Command and Commander
First Air Force Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida ACC
Second Air Force Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi AETC
Third Air Force RAF Mildenhall, England USAFE
Fourth Air Force Robins Air Force Base, Georgia AMC AFRC
Fifth Air Force Yokata Air Base, Japan PACAF
Seventh Air Force Osan Air Base, Korea PACAF
Eighth Air Force Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana ACC
Ninth Air Force Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina ACC
Tenth Air Force Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas ACC AFRC
Eleventh Air Force Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska PACAF
Twelfth Air Force Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona ACC
Thirteenth Air Force Andersen Air Force Base, Guam PACAF
Fourteenth Air Force Vandenberg Air Force Base, California AFSPC
Fifteenth Air Force Travis Air Force Base, California ACC
Sixteenth Air Force Aviano Air Base, Italy USAFE
Twentieth Air Force F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming AFSPC
Eighteenth Air Force Scott Air Force Base, Illinois AMC
Nineteenth Air Force Randolph Air Force Base, Texas AETC
Twenty-First Air Force McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey AMC
Twenty-Second Air Force Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia AMC AFRC

Air forces are composed of two or more air divisions. Air divisions are composed of two or more wings.


WingLocation Air Force
and Commander
5th Bomb Wing (BW) Barksdale Air Force Base, Lousiana and
Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota
U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) B-52H
149th Fighter Wing (FW) Texas Air National Guard F-16
15th Air Base Wing Hickham Air Force Base, Hawaii PACAF
18th Wing Kadena Air Force Base, Japan PACAF F-15C
1st Fighter Wing Langley Air Force Base, Virginia ACC F-15C
21st Space Wing Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
30th Wing Vandenburg Air Force Base, California AFSC
319th Air Refueling Wing Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota AMC KC-135
347th Rescue Wing Moody Air Force Base, Georgia ACC HH-60 Pave Hawk
355th Wing Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona ACC HH-60 Pave Hawk
36th Wing Anderson Air Force Base, Guam PACAF
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Bagram AB, Afghanistan ACC
39th Wing Incirlik AB, Turkey ACC
412th Test Wing Edwards Air Force Base, California
49th Fighter Wing Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico ACC F-117
509th Bomb Wing Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri STRATCOM B-2
57th Wing Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada ACC
6th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) MacDill Air Force Base, Florida AMC KC-135
60th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) Travis Air Force Base, California AMC C-5B
62nd Air Wing (AMW) AMC C-17 Globemaster 3
90th Space Wing F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming STRATCOM Minuteman III ICBM
939th Rescue Wing Portland, Oregon HH-60 Pave Hawk
99th Air Base Wing Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada ACC

Wings are composed of several groups with different functional responsibilities. Groups are composed of several squadrons, each of which has one major responsibility or flying one type of airfcraft. Squadrons are composed of two or more flights.

Other Air Force Organizations

Offices in the U.S. Air Force
WingLocation Major Command
and Commander
Air Force Institute of Technology Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
Air Warfare Center Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada ACC
Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma AFMC
Air Mobility Warfare Center Fort Dix, New Jersey

Brief History

For a detailed history, see United States Air Force--History.

United States Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker, two F-15 Eagles (twin fins) and two F-16 Fighting Falcons, on a refueling training mission.

In 1912, an Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps was created.

In 1917, upon the United States' entry into World War I, the U.S. Army Air Service was formed as part of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). Major General Patrick Mason commanded the AEF air forces; his deputy was Brigadier-General Billy Mitchell. The Air Service provided tactical support for the U.S. Army, especially during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne offensives. Among the aces of the Air Service were Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and Frank Luke.

In 1926 the Air Service was reorganized as a branch of the Army and became the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC). During this period, the USAAC began experimenting with new techniques, including air-to-air refueling and the development of the B-9 and the Martin B-10, the first all-metal monoplane bomber, and new fighters. In 1937, the B-17 Flying Fortress made its first appearance. In a spectacular feat of navigation, three B-17s intercepted the Italian passenger liner Rex at sea.

In 1941, the Army Air Corps became the U.S. Army Air Force. The USAAF reached status as a separate arm of the Army, with equal voice with the Army and Navy in 1943.

In Europe, the USAAF began daylight bombing operations, over objections of the Royal Air Force planners on the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The US strategy involved flying bombers together, relying on the defensive firepower of a close formation. The tactic was only successful in part. American flyers took tremendous casualites during raids on the oil refineries of Ploiesti, Romania and the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt and Regensburg, Germany. When the P-51 Mustang, with its increased range, was introduced to combat, American combat losses dropped, and operations during Big Week in late winter of 1944 caused the Luftwaffe to lose experienced pilots.

In the Pacific theater, the USAAF used the B-29 Superfortress to launch attacks on the Japanese mainland from China. One of the major logisitical efforts of the war, "flying the Hump" over the Himalayas, took place. To carry both a bomb load and fuel and to bomb at high altitude through the jet stream affected the B-29's range. As soon as airbases on Saipan were captured in 1944, General Curtis LeMay changed strategy from high-level precision bombings to low-level incendiary bombings, aimed at destroying the distributed network of Japanese industrial manufacturing. Many Japanese cities suffered extensive damage. Tokyo suffered a firestorm in which over 100,000 persons died.

The B-29 was also used to drop two nuclear weapons on Japan in August 1945.

The Department of the Air Force was created when President Harry S Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947. It became effective September 18, 1947, when Chief Justice Fred Vinson administered the oath of office to the first secretary of the Air Force, Stuart Symington.

In 1948, Communist authorities in Eastern Germany cut off road and air transportation to West Berlin. Military Airlift Command supplied the city during the Berlin airlift, using C-121 Constellation and the C-54 Skymaster. The Royal Air Force also played a significant role in flying tonnage into the city with Avro Yorks, Avro Tudors and Douglas Dakotas.

The Korean War saw the Far Eastern Air Force losing its main airbase in Kimpo, South Korea, and forced to provide close air support to the defenders of the Pusan pocket from bases in Japan. However, General Douglas B. MacArthur's landing at Inchon in September 1950 enabled the FEAF to return to Kimpo and other bases, from which they supported MacArthur's drive to the Korean-Chinese border. When the Chinese People's Liberation Army intervened in December, 1950, the USAF provided tactical air support. The introduction of the Soviet-made MiG-15 caused problems for the B-29s used to bomb North Korea, but the USAF countered the MiGs with the F-86 Sabre.

In 1954, the United States Air Force Academy opened in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Women first graduated from the USAFA in 1976.


See also:

External links