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The US Air Force at 70: from the first jets to stealth aircraft

The wild blue there – it’s been the domain of the US Air Force for 75 years. In 1947, the USAF became an independent military branch, breaking away from the US military at the dawn of jet aircraft and the atomic age.

There are actually two dates this year to consider. On July 25, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which decreed that the Air Force should be its own separate branch. Then, on September 18, the law went into effect – that’s the date the Air Force celebrates.

This year also marks the 115th anniversary of the first US military service dedicated to flying aircraft for national defense: the Aircraft Division of the US Signal Corps, which originated on August 1, 1907. We examine that era in a slideshow separate, ranging from biplanes to prototype jets.

In this slideshow, we’ll take an anniversary tour of the plane that Air Force pilots have flown, from 75 years ago to the present day. Pictured are F-16 Fighting Falcons flying in close formation for the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s demonstration squadron.

Originally published July 27, 2017, to mark the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force.


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