The United States Air Force turns 71 today!
First established on Sept. 18, 1947, the Air Force has become one of the crown jewels in American military power.
Stealth bombers, fighter jets, and airlift wings put us light years ahead of our adversaries.
Wars over the course of the 20th century have shaped the USAF into the precise machine it is today. Decades of demanding missions built a robust force capable of a wide variety of missions across the world.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Bennett, a native of New Orleans, a military working dog handler assigned to the 673rd Security Forces Squadron, works with Kimba, a Belgian Malinois, at one of the kennels at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Sept. 11. Kimba is approaching retirement after 10 years of military service. (Justin Connaher / U.S. Air Force)
Staff Sgt. Timothy Driver, 5th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, adjusts safety equipment for Deny, 5th SFS MWD, during flight familiarization training at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, on Aug. 23. This was the first time the K-9 unit has flown with the 54th Helicopter Squadron. (Senior Airman Jonathan McElderry / U.S. Air Force)
For many, the words “Air Force” conjure up mental images of fighter jets screaming across the sky, with pilots surrounded by lights, gauges, and switches.
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All the upgrades and flashy fighters aren’t for show, either. The Air Force is on the forefront of optic, propulsion, and laser technology.
To field all that technology, the Air Force has over 300,000 members, 12,000 of whom are pilots.
Non-pilots fill essential roles as well, including maintenance, navigation, and security work.
Maj. John Waters, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot, performs precision aerial maneuvers in an F-16 Fighting Falcon, “Viper,” during the Cleveland National Air Show at Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 2. (Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves / U.S. Air Force)
U.S. Air Force tactical air control party airmen with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron, New Jersey Air National Guard, demonstrate a special extraction system as they hang from a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter with the 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 150th Aviation, New Jersey Army National Guard, during the 2018 Atlantic City International Airshow “16th Annual Thunder Over The Boardwalk” at Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Aug. 22. The 150th is located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, while the 227th is located at the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base. (Mark C. Olsen / New Jersey National Guard)
The Air Force of the 21st century is evolving to meet threats across the world. From terrorism to hurricane relief, their mission is “integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.”
This doesn’t come as a surprise to some enduring the current storms on the East Coast. Air Force personnel were on standby in the days leading up to the storm’s landfall, ready to jump in and assist.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Collin Saumier, left, a fire protection specialist assigned to the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron, undergoes a safety inspection before entering simulated burning aircraft during wartime-firefighting readiness training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 23. During the readiness training, the Air Force firefighters donned various levels of mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) gear and practiced responding to emergency situations in a simulated toxic environment during a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear strike. Saumier is a native of Cato, New York. (Alejandro Peña / U.S. Air Force)
The modern Air Force has come a long way since the World War sorties and dogfights that shaped its future.
Now more than ever, it’s important for our military to remain in the forefront. With China and Russia becoming rising challengers, the Air Force is going to play a pivotal part in the balance of power over the next few decades.
An F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron flies over Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Aug. 17. The 492nd dedicated F-15E Strike Eagles in support of Typhoon Warrior, the Royal Air Force’s premier air combat training exercise during the month of August. (Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew / U.S. Air Force)
The Air Force has become an icon in the 71 years it has existed. With brave men and women filling the ranks of the service, it is guaranteed to have many more birthdays after this one.
If you see an airman today, thank them for their service!
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