United States Air Force


July 5, 2022

The United States Air Force (USAF) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces. Originally formed as part of the United States Army on August 1, 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the US Armed Forces on September 18, 1947 with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. The US Air Force articulates its core mission as air supremacy, integrated global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global attack, and command and control. The U.S. Air Force is a branch of military service 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 Air Force is headed by the Secretary of the Air Force, who reports to the Secretary of Defense and is appointed by the President with approval of the Senate. The highest military officer in the Air Force is the Air Force Chief of Staff, who exercises oversight of Air Force units and serves as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As directed by the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Air Force, certain Air Force components are assigned to unified combatant command. Combatant commanders are delegated operational authority from the forces assigned to them, while the Air Force Secretary and Air Force Chief of Staff retain administrative authority over their members. Along with conducting independent air operations, the US Air Force provides air support for ground and sea forces and assistance in troop recovery on the ground. The Air Force operates more than 5,369 military aircraft and 406 ICBMs. The Air Force has a budget of $156.3 billion and is the second largest branch of service, with 329,614 active-duty personnel, 172,857 civilian personnel, 69,056 reserve pilots and 107,414 Air National Guard aviators. Not all warplanes in the United States are operated by the USAF. The Navy operates aircraft on its carriers. The US Marine Corps also operates warplanes and carriers. All branches of the US military operate helicopters.

Mission, vision and function


According to the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 502), which created the USAF: In general, the United States Air Force will include both combat and service aviation forces not otherwise assigned. It must be regulated, trained and equipped primarily for rapid and sustained offensive and defensive air operations. Air Force is responsible for air force preparation necessary for effective prosecution of war unless otherwise assigned and, pursuant to a unified joint mobilization plan, for the expansion of peacetime Air Force components to meet wartime needs. Section 9062 of Title 10 of the US Code defines the objectives of the USAF as: to maintain peace and security, and provide for the defense, of the United States of America, Territory, Commonwealth, and property, and any territory occupied by the United States; to support national policies; to implement national goals; to address any country responsible for aggressive actions that jeopardize the peace and security of the United States of America.

Main mission

The Air Force's five core missions have not changed dramatically since the Air Force became independent in 1947, but they have evolved and are now articulated as air superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global attack, and command and control. The goal of all of these core missions is to deliver what Air Force declares to be global vigilance, global reach, and global power.

Superiority in the air

Air superiority is "the degree of dominance in aerial combat of one power over another