This month, the United States Air Force (USAF) will celebrate its 72nd birthday.
While the USAF is the youngest of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, it’s also the largest and most technologically advanced in the world.
The United States Air Force is all about securing the air, space, and cyberspace arenas for America. Every day, Airmen train to respond to situations from terror attacks to catastrophic relief efforts. As large as it is complex, the USAF offers more than just active duty opportunities.
Those who serve have four different options:
- Air Force Active Duty
- Air National Guard
- Air Force Reserve
- Air Force Civilian Service
Curious about the branch that takes to the skies and space more than any other service?
Read on to learn more about the history and manpower that is the United States Air Force.
Air Force Facts to Know
This branch focuses on five key capabilities to keep our military mission ready for the skies. These areas include: Air and space superiority, global presence, rapid global mobility, information superiority, precision engagement, and combat support.
Additionally, the Air Force is:
- The main aerial and space warfare service branch
- The second largest U.S. military branch
- Globally present with bases that span three continents
- Full of career options — 219 careers are available
Important United States Air Force Dates
For more than a century now, the USAF has taken to the skies to protect the United States of America. The USAF keeps our country safe by watching the world from the skies and space.
Here’s a look at some of the Air Force’s most pivotal historic moments:
The USAF formed as a part of the US Army on August 1,1907
The USAF became an official branch of the US Armed Forces on Sept. 18, 1947 due to the National Security Act of 1947
Women first entered pilot training through the USAF
157 women joined the cadet wing of the U.S. Air Force Academy
Women first entered navigator training
USAF operation URGENT FURY rescued American students and restored order on Grenada
Women first entered fighter pilot training
The USAF Academy updated its multi-year construction plan to pour $1 billion into the campus
The Academy brings remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) training into the curriculum
United States Air Force Personnel
Just how many people are in the Air Force? Quite a few. As the military’s second-largest branch, thousands of Americans dedicate their time and lives to the USAF mission. Here’s a look at the Air Force’s impressive and large manpower numbers.
Active Duty Members
Air National Guard Airmen
- 12,362 total
- 3,249 navigators
- 1,290 air battle managers
Nonrated Line Officers
Female USAF members
- 67,566 total population
The USAF has equipment that involves a lot more than airplanes. From flight helmets to oxygen masks to the AGM-130 missiles, the USAF has high-powered, expensive equipment that’s primed and ready for members to use at a moment’s notice.
While we’ll never know the details of how many bombs or cannons the USAF owns, we do know there’s a lot of aircraft involved. Perhaps the coolest ones are the weather reconnaissance aircraft the USAF uses to study events like typhoons and hurricanes.
The number of USAF manned aircraft
The number of types of “attack aircraft” the USAF has
The different types of VIP staff transportation used for the President and other government officials
Military satellites tracking data
Dress and Titles
There are 2 types of Air Force uniforms with various versions including a service dress uniform and an Airman Combat Uniform (OCP). The OCP uniform is currently phasing out the Airman Battle Uniform (ABU).
As for the titles? Like most branches, the Air Force has quite a few titles for officers and enlisted personnel. Below you’ll are the titles for both enlisted and officers.
3 Commissioned Officer Categories
Company grade officers
- Second Lieutenant
- First Lieutenant
Field grade officers
- Lieutenant Colonel
- Brigadier General
- Major General
- Lieutenant General
- General of the Air Force
Warrant Officer is no longer used by the USAF. This is the only branch that doesn’t use that title.
9 Enlisted Pay Grades
For enlisted Airmen, there are nine total pay grades. E-1 is the role most Airmen step into when they first enter the military. As you advance, your pay and rank both go up.
- E-1 Airman Basic
- E-2 Enlisted Airman
- E-3 Airman First Class
- E-4 Senior Airman
- E-5 Staff Sergeant
- E-6 Technical Sergeant
- E-7 Master Sergeant
- E-8 Senior Master Sergeant
- E-9 Chief Master Sergeant
Pay and Benefits
On top of a monthly paycheck (deposited twice a month), you’ll also receive benefits like 30 days of paid vacation, food and housing allowances, tuition assistance, low-cost insurance, and more. Below are a sampling of the pay rates for newbies to the most experienced Air Force personnel.
The monthly pay for an entry-level E-1 Airman Basic
The monthly pay for an 0-6 Colonel
For the full chart of pay rates, click here.
Air Force Facts: This Career Prepares You For the Real World
Whether you’re interested in an Air Force career that’s part-time or full-time, the minute you start your Airman training, you’re preparing for real-world experience.
Job-applicable skills are part of your training process so you can do your job well and also prepare for a life outside the Air Force one day.
Another Air Force fact: Your technical training can take anywhere from 6 to 72 weeks, depending on your career path. The options are limitless when you consider you can train for most every career field — from aircraft maintenance officer work to audiologist and clinical social worker roles.
Whether you’re looking for additional job skills training or a steady paycheck, you’ll find both and then some in the United States Air Force.
Ready to learn more about the Air Force? Check out our special blog section dedicated to the USAF here!