SCIENCE OF THE AIR FORCE
THE FUTURE DOESN’T INVENT ITSELF01
NOTHING SCIENCE FICTION ABOUT ITLasers00:00
The wattage of the most powerful laser ever recorded
Lasers were once considered a matter of science fiction. But today they are a part of our daily lives. You can find them in everything from grocery stores to home entertainment systems. And in the Air Force, we are exploring new innovative ways to utilize these concentrated beams of light, including equipping aircraft with laser systems that will add to our national defense.
From lasers and nuclear engineering to biotechnology, you’ll be able to put your passion for discovery to good use in some of the most advanced laboratories in the world.LEARN ABOUT A PHYSICIST CAREER 02
The Future of Autonomous Robotics
ROBOTS AT THE READYThe Future of Autonomous Robots00:00
The length of the wingspan of a Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) developed in 2009
The Airmen of the U.S. Air Force are some of the most highly trained specialists in the world. But there are places even they can’t go—yet. With the development of autonomous robotics, soon even the most hazardous areas will be accessible. Today, work is underway to develop these aerial and ground robots so that we may eventually be able to enter dangerous environments without putting human lives at risk.
Able to navigate small spaces and relay data back to rescue teams searching for survivors in collapsed buildings
Infiltrates hazardous areas without detection and supplies real-time HD video to ground forces
Since the Air Force is constantly developing new technologies, our engineers are some of the best in the world, with specialties ranging from aeronautical and astronautical to electrical and mechanical.LEARN ABOUT ENGINEERING CAREERS03
STANDING UP TO THE FORCES OF GRAVITYG-Forces00:00
The amount of force a pilot can withstand in a training centrifuge before passing out
As we continue to build faster, more maneuverable jets, the effects on the human body are becoming more extreme. During a sharp turn in an F-35, an Air Force Pilot can experience as much as 6Gs, which is six times the force of gravity, making it hard to do simple movements of the hand. Thankfully, Air Force pilots wear G-suits and are specially trained to handle this type of force when flying.
The stresses that result from working in extreme conditions require specialized physicians who are trained to care for pilots and crewmembers traveling in air or space.LEARN ABOUT AEROSPACE MEDICAL CAREERS04
Remotely Piloted Aircraft
THE CONSTANT EYERemotely Piloted Aircraft00:00
> 1 million
Total number of hours the Predator system has spent in flight
An RPA isn’t operated by just one person, but a team made up of a pilot, sensor operator, mission intelligence coordinator and ground commander working as a cohesive unit. And because an RPA is armed and equipped with a full range of surveillance technology and can loiter in the sky for hours, they enable the commanders to better locate, monitor and engage the enemy.
A convoy traveling through the Afghan mountains pulls over to rest. To help maintain their safety, an MQ-1 Predator keeps a watchful eye over their location throughout the night using multiple sensors to identify any approaching threats.
For days, enemy combatants prepared for an assault on a military outpost. Their ambush, however, was met with heavy fire after an RPA, monitoring their every move from above, alerted the outpost beforehand.
Ground troops on patrol in southern Afghanistan suddenly came under heavy enemy fire. When they requested a bird’s-eye view to assess their situation, an MQ-9 Reaper was launched, and within minutes located a secure escape route leading them to safety.
As a Sensor Operator, you will perform surveillance and reconnaissance as well as provide close air support using precision-guided munitions to help eliminate threats.LEARN ABOUT A SENSOR OPERATOR CAREER05
LEADING THE WAY FOR THE WHOLE WORLD
The number of miles in space that GPS satellites orbit the Earth
Today, the Air Force operates the largest GPS constellation in history with more than 30 satellites. Originally developed and implemented as a military navigation system, today we share it with the rest of the world while still relying on it for a variety of tasks from guiding precision weapons to delivering humanitarian supplies on the other side of the planet.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a constellation of more than 30 satellites orbiting the Earth operated by the Air Force and used by the entire world.
GPS satellites communicate with GPS receivers on Earth by broadcasting a radio signal (weaker than that of a lightbulb) that can reach the receiver in a fraction of a second.
As part of the largest space program in the world, you will be a part of a team responsible for everything from tracking satellites to assisting rocket launches.LEARN ABOUT A SPACE OPERATIONS CAREER06
FAST IS NEVER FAST ENOUGH
The record for the longest hypersonic flight held by the Air Force’s X-51 Scramjet
Today, Air Force pilots routinely fly faster than the speed of sound, but there was a time when it was considered impossible. Then in 1947, the Air Force broke the sound barrier for the first time in manned flight with its experimental Bell X-1 aircraft. Since that day, we have continued to push the boundaries of speed achieving five times the speed of sound called hypersonic flight.
When an airplane travels through the air, its vibration produces sound waves that are moving molecules of air that have pushed together.
From combat missions to delivering humanitarian aid, Air Force Pilots deploy around the world wherever there’s a need.LEARN ABOUT PILOT CAREERS07
Forces in Flight
OBEYING THE LAWS OF FLIGHT
The maximum weight at which the C-5, the Air Force’s largest cargo plane, can take off.
From the first heavier-than-air aircraft to the modern multi-role fighter, the world has witnessed the evolution of flight in a relatively short amount of time. But the one constant has been the physics governing it. The motion of an airplane through the air depends on the relative strength and direction of thrust, drag, gravity and lift. If the forces are balanced, the aircraft will cruise at constant velocity. If the forces are unbalanced, the plane will accelerate in the direction of the largest force.
A plane’s wing is curved more severely on the top than on the bottom. Therefore, air passing around the wing must travel faster to cover the greater distance over the top than across the bottom. This results in lower air pressure above the wing, pulling it and the aircraft upward.
Drag is the force that resists forward motion and acts against thrust. Drag is created primarily by friction between the plane and the atmosphere. If the force of drag is too great, then a plane will move slower and will lose lift.
Thrust is the force that pushes or pulls a plane forward through the air. In a jet engine airplane, thrust is a result of exhaust rushing out of the engine’s nozzle. The gases move backward so quickly, they propel the plane forward.
Earth’s gravity pulls the plane downward, giving the plane weight. When the force of lift exceeds the plane’s weight, the plane rises.
From routine repairs to preflight checks, it is the role of the Aerospace Maintenance specialist to ensure that every aircraft is in perfect working order before it leaves the ground.Learn about Aircraft Maintenance Careers08
Next Generation Wearable Technology
THE 21ST CENTURY AIRMAN
The total weight of the gear a typical Airman carries into the field.
BATMAN [Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided k(N)owledge] is an advanced research program that develops wearable technologies for Special Operations team members to increase their situational awareness. The project is continually looking at auditory, visual and tactile interfaces to relay information more intuitively and help lighten the load for Airmen, both in the physical and cognitive sense.
Heads-up Display (HUD)
See-through helmet-mounted display that provides battlefield information and multi-sensor feeds
Assigns sounds to directions so that south is audibly different than east or west, which will increase awareness and maneuverability
Durable chest-mounted computer that feeds information to the HUD and enables Airmen to process and transmit real-time intelligence
Access GPS maps to maintain situational awareness and locate teammates during a mission
Enables Airmen to siphon electricity from found sources to keep wearable systems powered at all times
Equipped with advanced training, these elite Airmen go on missions around the world, from calling in air strikes to search-and-rescue operations.LEARN ABOUT SPECIAL OPERATIONS CAREERS09
The X-1 to the F-35
TO OWN THE SKIESF-35 and the Legacy of Air Supremacy00:00
Top speed of the F-35 Lightning II
Since its inception, the U.S. Air Force has been developing the fastest, most powerful aircraft in the world. From the X-1 that broke the barrier of sound to today’s F-35 that redefines how pilot and plane interact by combining supersonic speed, advanced stealth capabilities and integrated avionics. If it could be imagined, the Air Force turned it into reality.
Sphere of Vision
Pilots see everything the F-35 sees with 360-degree external viewing capability.
Simplifies decision-making by gathering, fusing and distributing information for the pilot
Information is displayed on the helmet’s visor for quick, unimpeded assessment.
Every helmet is custom molded to fit only the pilot it belongs to.
For every pilot there is a whole team of Airmen on the ground responsible for making sure each aircraft is up to peak performance, from avionics to propulsion.LEARN ABOUT AIRCRAFT SPECIALISTS CAREERS