Does the US air force really have more than 13,000 aircraft?

US Air force strength

Since ww2, the number of military aircraft of the US Air Force has been ranked first in the statistics of the size of the air force fleets all over the world.

Recently flight global published magazine “World air force directory 2022”. According to data provided by the publisher military aircraft of the US Air Force is more than 10,000. The latest data on the number of US Air Force aircraft given by “Flight Global” magazine is 13,246. Does the US Air Force have so many aircraft?

Statistics by Flight Global
Statistics by Flight Global

The U.S. Air Force is a strategic air force deployed around the world. It has built a large number of overseas bases in Asia and Europe. For such an air force, it is necessary to make detailed statistics on the specific composition and quantity of its equipment. Before the statistics, it should be noted that the U.S. airpower is divided into two parts: the Air Force and the Air National Guard. Although they are two different organizations in name, there is no essential difference between the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard in actual operations, so these statistics will also include the equipment of the US Air National Guard in the Air Force statistics.

Active fighter jets in USAF

As of the end of 2021, the U.S. Air Force is equipped with four fighter jets, including two stealth fighters, the F22 and F35, and two non-stealth fighters, the F15 and F16. A total of 187 F22 fighter jets have been produced in production, but 5 have crashed in the decades of service, and the number of active service is 182. By the end of 2021, the U.S. Air Force has received 302 F35A fighter jets, and the total number of the two stealth fighter jets is 484.

US Air force F-35, F-16, F-15, F-22
US Air force F-35, F-16, F-15, F-22 (From Left to Right)

 

Looking at the fourth-generation aircraft, the F-15 was first an air-superior fighter, but the US Air Force’s F15A/B have all been retired. At present, what remains are the upgraded F-15C/D and dual-mission fighter F-15E, and the newly developed F15EX has been in service with 2 aircraft. By the end of 2021, the US Air Force have 237 F-15s. The F-16 is the fighter with the largest number active service in the US Air Force. There are still 937 F-16 fighter jets in service. The current total number of the two fourth-generation aircraft in the US Air Force is 1,174.

Strategic Bombers

The three strategic bombers B-52, B-1B, and B-2 are known as the “troika” of the U.S. Air Force. Among them, 21 B-2 stealth strategic bombers were produced. In 2008, the B2 number 89-0127 crashed in Guam, and now the U.S. Air Force has B2s. The B-52 strategic bomber is the oldest in service among the active bombers of the US Air Force. By the end of 2021, there are 76 B-52 strategic bombers that have been in service for more than half a century. In 2021, the US Air Force retired 17 B-1Bs Supersonic strategic bombers in one go, the currently 45 B-1B left in service.

US Air Force strategic bombers
US Air Force strategic bombers

Although the B-1B’s bomb load and flight speed exceed those of the B52 strategic bomber, the combat mode of the strategic bomber has undergone fundamental changes. In such a combat mode, the penetration capability of the B-1B is no longer outstanding, and the equipment and service cost is much higher than that of the B-52. Therefore, the current plan made by the US Air Force is to speed up the retirement of the B-1B and fully upgrade the currently equipped B-52H bomber to make it Can serve until 2050.

Early warning aircraft and Tankers

The US military has the most Early warning aircraft in the world, but most of the US military’s early warning aircraft are in the hands of the US Navy, and there are not many early warning aircraft equipped by the Air Force. At present, there is only one E-3 early warning aircraft in active service of the US Air Force. At present, there are only 32 E3 early warning aircraft equipped by the US Air Force.

US Air force E-3 Sentry
US Air force E-3 Sentry

The reason why the US Air Force is a strategic air force is inseparable from its huge fleet of tankers. At present, the number of tankers in active service in the U.S. Air Force is as high as 503, of which the main ones are the KC-135 and KC-10 tankers. In addition, the U.S. Air Force is also equipped with 47 KC-46A and 33 KC-130 series tankers. It is this huge number of early warning and tankers aircraft that supports the U.S. Air Force’s global strike capability. It is essential to the Air Force, and without a tanker of sufficient size, it cannot become a standard strategic air force.

Transport aircraft

The US Air Force has three active transport aircraft, namely the strategic transport aircraft C-5, the large transport aircraft C-17 and the medium tactical transport aircraft C-130 series. The C-5 is currently the third largest transport aircraft in the world in terms of carrying capacity. Its maximum carrying capacity is 130 tons. In theory, it can carry two MIA2 main battle tanks at the same time. Currently, the US Air Force is equipped with 48 C-5 strategic transport aircraft, and these 48 C-5 strategic transport agencies have become the backbone of the US military’s rapid delivery of troops around the world.

USAF C-17(lower two), C-5(middle), and C-130(Upper 4)
USAF C-17(lower two), C-5(middle), and C-130(Upper 4)

Let’s look at the other two transport aircraft. The number of active C-17 transport aircraft in the US Air Force is 222, and the number of another C-130 series medium-sized tactical transport aircraft is 279. The C-17 Galaxy transport aircraft is much better than the Russian Il-76. At present, the US Air Force is developing a series of new models improved from the C-130, such as the AC-130 ground attack aircraft.

Other main military aircraft

The A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft is a major force in the US Air Force. Although the US Air Force is gradually reducing the size of the A-10 attack aircraft, the number of A-10 attack aircraft currently in service is still as high as 239. The A-10 attack aircraft took the limelight in the Gulf War, and it is also one of the few dedicated ground attack aircraft in the world. Although the A-10 maneuverability and flight speed are not excellent, but in the case of mastering air dominance, The A-10 attack aircraft is the favorite strike combat aircraft of U.S. Air Force pilots.

A-10 Warthog
A-10 Warthog

In addition, the U.S. Air Force is also equipped with about 300 special types of aircraft, including reconnaissance aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, and special operations aircraft. The total number of all models is about 3,400. These 3,400 main fighters are the first-line military aircraft of the US Air Force that can be directly put into war. In addition to these first-line models, the US Air Force also has thousands of drones, helicopters, trainers, etc. As for the number of more than 13,000 aircraft, it is actually adding a lot of data obtained from sealed and stocked aircraft.

Conclusion

From the above statistics, we can not only draw the specific number of the current main fighter aircraft of the US Air Force, but also intuitively understand the composition of the main fighter aircraft in the US Air Force: the number and performance of the forth-generation aircraft of the US Air Force is still excellent, but its real advantage lies in the number of 5th generation stealth fighters and the huge fleet of early warning aircraft and tankers and transport aircraft, so to measure the strength of an air force can not only look at the number of fighters , the importance of early warning aircraft, transport aircraft, tankers and other aircraft which values are not less than gightes.

0 Comments on “Does the US air force really have more than 13,000 aircraft?”

  1. In your article you state there is no difference between the USAF and State National Guards.
    There is significant difference. The National Guards Report to their State Governors and CAN NOT be take to be used by the US President unless the respective State Governors permit their State Militia/Guard to be used. There are a number of cases/situations where the Governors have said “NO!” to the US President. The US President was not happy that he could not have the folks or equipment in the National Guard for those US States where their Governor said “NO”, but that is how the US Constitution is written. All power of the US Federal Government originates from the States. On a number of items, the Federal Government can not dictate what a State will do in a number of domains.

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