The U.S. Air Force—if you’re into some cool gear, they definitely use some of the best. And like the other branches of the U.S. military, the Air Force employs a number of photographers to bring us, with due promotional sentiment in mind, some captivating moments from the life of the airmen.
The United States Air Force is the largest and perhaps the best equipped air force in the world. It employs over 650,000 people, including more than 300,000 active personnel and close to 200,000 civilians. The rest are reservists and the Air National Guard.
Its pilots have over 5,000 planes to choose from. More than 1,800 are bombers and fighter jets with about half of those being the F-16 Fighting Falcon jets. The list also includes almost 400 “air superiority fighters,” most notably the much-touted F-22A Raptor—a stealth fighter jet able to zip through the sky at speeds of 1.7 times the speed of sound. It is also the first U.S. aircraft to achieve “super-maneuverability,” an ability to perform seemingly impossible maneuvers only demonstrated by some Russian aircraft (like the MiG-29) before.
Interestingly, one would find no attack helicopters in the Air Force as they all belong to Army inventory. In fact, the Army has almost the same number of aircraft as the Air Force (almost 5,000). Yet most of them are choppers and the Army also has exactly zero fighter jets.
While the U.S. military has equipped airplanes since the early 20th century, the Air Force was officially established only after World War II, specifically on Sept. 18, 1947. That makes it the youngest branch of the military, though it will soon celebrate its 68th birthday.