An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation’s armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or other branch. Typically, air forces are responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out
10. South Korea
The Republic of Korea Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of South Korea, operating under the South Korean Ministry of National Defense. The ROKAF has about 500 combat aircraft of American design, plus a few Russian, European, and indigenously designed aircraft. The South Korean Air Force’s primary role is to defend the country from various threats, including that of the North Korean Army and North Korean Air Force, which fields about twice as many aircraft, though mostly older and obsolete Soviet-designed fighters. As of 2008, the South Korean Air Force flew more than 180 KF-16, 174 F-5E/F, 130 F-4D/E, 39 F-15K (with 21 additional F-15Ks expected to be delivered between by the end of 2012), and a number of South Korean-made T-50 among its combat aircraft.
Aircraft: 643 – 805
The French Air Force is the air force of the French Armed Forces. The number of aircraft in service with the French Air Force varies depending on source, however sources from the French Ministry of Defence and the French Senate give a divergent figure of 643 to 805 aircraft. The former figure being sourced from the French Ministry of Defence and giving a far more detailed list of the numbers, types and roles of each aircraft in the Air Force. The French Air Force has 233 combat aircraft in service, with the majority being 158 Dassault Mirage 2000 and 75 Dassault Rafale. The last remaining squadron of Dassault Mirage F1s will be retired in the next coming months as it is replaced by more Rafale. The 2008 French White Paper on Defence and National Security allows for only 300 combat aircraft in service with the French Armed Forces. With a split of 228 in the Air force and 58 in the Navy.
The Russian Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Russian Air Force has suffered severe setbacks due to lack of resources, and has constantly shrunk in size. Since Vladimir Putin became President of the Russian Federation however, much more money has been allocated to the Armed Forces as a whole. The IISS estimated that the Russian Air Force had a strength of 4,000+ aircraft in active service.
The German Air Force is the aerial warfare branch of the German Armed Forces. On 13 January 2004, the Minister of Defense, Peter Struck, announced major changes in the future of the German armed forces. A major part of this announcement was a plan to cut the number of fighter planes from 426 in early 2004, to 265 by 2015. Assuming that the plans to order 180 Typhoons is carried out in full, and all of the F-4 Phantoms are removed from service, this would cut the number of Tornado fighter-bombers down to just 85.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force is the aviation branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces responsible for the defense of Japanese airspace and other aerospace operations.The JASDF operates 805 aircraft, 424 of them being fighter aircraft. On 14 November 2011, The Daily Telegraph reported that the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II was favored to win the F-X bid because of close security ties between Japan and United States. Japanese officials were also reported to be impressed with the F-35’s stealth capabilities. The JASDF is not allowed to have strategic bombers for that would go against the self-defense–only policy.
5. United Kingdom
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. The Royal Air Force is one of the most capable and technologically sophisticated air forces in the world; as such it maintains a large and diverse operational fleet. As of January 2012, it had a reported strength of 827 aircraft, making it the largest air force in the European Union, and the second largest in terms of aircraft in NATO. As of June 2011, the RAF is planning for the introduction of the following new aircraft: The Airbus A400M, of which 22 are to be used to replace the remaining Hercules C1/C3 (C-130K) transport aircraft. Originally, 25 aircraft were ordered, and the A400M will be known as the Atlas in RAF service. The F-35B Lightning II is intended to enter service around 2020 under the Joint Combat Aircraft programme.
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) estimates that the Indian Air Force has a strength of 127,000 active personnel. However, various reliable sources provided notably divergent estimates of its strength over the years. The air force is estimated to have around 1,361 aircraft in active service. Since the late 1990s, the Indian Air Force has been modernising its fleet to counter challenges in the new century. The fleet size of the IAF has decreased to 33 squadrons during this period because of the retirement of older aircraft. Still, India maintains the fourth largest air force in the world. The squadron strength is being raised to 42 squadrons.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is the aviation branch of the People’s Liberation Army, the military of the People’s Republic of China. In 2010, the PLAAF had approximately 330,000 personnel and 2,500+ aircraft, of which 1,617 were combat aircraft; the PLAAF is the largest air force in Asia, and the third largest in the world behind the United States Air Force and the Russian Air Force. This does not include PLA Naval Aviation which had 26,000 personnel and 570 aircraft (290 combat aircraft).
The Israeli Air Force is the air force of the State of Israel and the aerial arm of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Thirty nine Israeli pilots have been credited with ace status, having shot down at least 5 enemy aircraft. Of these, 10 have shot down at least eight jet planes. The top ranking Israeli ace is Colonel Giora Epstein, who shot down seventeen enemy planes. Epstein holds the world record for jet aircraft shot down, and the most aircraft of any type shot down since the Korean War.
1. United States
The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven American uniformed services. USAF operates 5,573 manned aircraft in service (3,990 USAF; 1,213 Air National Guard; and 370 Air Force Reserve); approximately 180 unmanned combat air vehicles, 2,130 air-launched cruise missiles, and 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The USAF has 330,159 personnel on active duty, 68,872 in the Selected and Individual Ready Reserves, and 94,753 in the Air National Guard as of September 2008. In addition, the USAF employs 151,360 civilian personnel, and has over 60,000 auxiliary members in Civil Air Patrol, making it the largest air force in the world. The United States plans to buy a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft to provide the bulk of its tactical airpower for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy over the coming decades.