United States Air Force uniform
- 1 Mess dress
- 2 Service dress
- 3 Utility uniform
- 4 Women's uniforms
- 5 Desert uniforms
- 6 Physical fitness gear
- 7 References
- 8 See also
Mess dressExamples of officer (left) and enlisted Mess Dress (right).
The Mess Dress Uniform is used for formal or semi-formal occasions such as Dining ins, the annual Air Force Ball, graduations, award ceremonies and weddings. The uniform consists of a dark blue mess jacket and matching trousers with antiqued silver buttons, miniature medals, blue bow-tie and cummerbund, and shoulder boards and silver wrist braids for officers. No cover (hat) or name-tag is worn with the Air Force Mess Dress Uniform. When wearing the blue tie and cummerbund, the uniform is considered equivalent to black-tie formal wear. For white-tie occasions, a white bow-tie and waistcoat are worn.
When the Army Air Forces first became separated from the U.S. Army, the first proposals for a service uniform featured minimal ornamentation, at the request of top commanders. However, many lower-ranked officers requested more specific badges and insignia. This debate continued through the 1980s, at which point the viewpoints in favor of greater badges and insignia had generally prevailed, and badges were issued for almost all occupational areas. Current Service Dress uniforms: Officer on the left, enlisted on the right. Taken from AFI 36-2903
Prior to 1993, all Air Force personnel wore Air Force Blue (blue-grey) uniforms very similar in appearance to that of the U.S. Army.
The current U.S. Air Force Service Dress Uniform, which was adopted in 1993 and standardized in 1995, consists of a three-button, pocketless coat, similar to that of a men's "sport jacket" (with silver "U.S." pins on the lapels), matching trousers, and either a service cap or flight cap, all in Shade 1620, "Air Force Blue" (a darker purplish-blue). This is worn with a light blue shirt (Shade 1550) and Shade 1620 herringbone patterned necktie. Enlisted members wear sleeve insignia on both the jacket and shirt, while officers wear metal rank insignia pinned onto the coat, and Air Force Blue slide-on epaulet loops on the shirt. Air Force personnel assigned to Base Honor Guard duties wear, for certain occasions, a modified version of the standard service dress uniform, but with silver trim on the sleeves and trousers, with the addition of a ceremonial belt (if necessary), wheel cap with silver trim and Hap Arnold Device, and a silver aiguillete placed on the left should seam and all devices and accouterments.
The service dress uniform pictured is a modification of the original version envisioned by Merrill McPeak, which featured no epaulets for any rank, and silver braid loops on the lower sleeves denoting officer rank (see also: United States Air Force officer rank insignia). This style of rank insignia for officers, while used by British Royal Air Force officers and air force officers of other commonwealth nations, is the style of the U.S. Navy service dress uniform. For this reason and others, the insignia was immensely unpopular and many senior Air Force Generals commented that the uniforms of the Air Force now looked identical to those of airline pilots. The McPeak uniform was abolished in 1999 and remains the shortest issued military insignia series in the history of the United States armed forces. Epaulets were put back on the coat for metal rank insignia but the compromise uniform continued to be unpopular, primarily from its civilian-style cut. Several additional changes were made to make the jacket seem more military in appearance.Proposals for new Service Uniform
On May 18, 2006, the Department of the Air Force unveiled two prototypes of new service dress uniforms, one resembling the stand-collar uniform worn by U.S. Army Air Corps officers prior to 1935, called the "Billy Mitchell heritage coat," and another, resembling the Army Air Force's Uniform of World War II and named the "Hap Arnold heritage coat". If the stand-collar coat is selected, it will be the first stand-collar "everyday" uniform to be issued since the 1930's (the Navy's male dress white and the U.S. Marine Corps' dress blue uniform stand-collar coats are worn for formal occasions only).  In 2007, Air Force officials announced they had settled on the "Hap Arnold" look, with a belted suit coat, but with narrower lapels than the original prototype (even though the vast majority of Airmen questioned on preference chose the "Billy Mitchell" coat). 
Utility uniformStaff Sergeant in Battle Dress Uniform Airman Battle Uniform.
For combat and work duty, ground crews wear the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), which will be phased out in favor of the Airman Battle Uniform. The Airman Battle Uniform was issued to Airmen deploying as part of AEFs 7/8 in Spring 2007. In October 2007, they were issued to Basic Trainees, and will be available for purchase at AAFES outlets by the rest of the Air Force in June 2008.
The mandatory wear date for the Airman Battle Uniform is November 2011.
Women's service dress uniforms are similar in color and style to the men's service dress uniforms, but can also include additional articles including a skirt, stockings, and women's style garrison cap.
Currently, women wear the same utility uniforms as men; either the BDU or the flight suit, both of which come in unisex sizes.
When serving in a desert climate (such as the Persian Gulf region), Air Force personnel wear tan colored uniforms rather than the customary green. These uniforms consist of the Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU), and the tan nomex flight suit for aircrew members.
Physical fitness gearAir Force members wearing the new PRT Uniform
The Air Force designed new Physical Fitness Gear (PT) that became mandatory for wear on October 1, 2006. The gear consists of shorts, t-shirt, jacket and pants. The excessively short shorts are AF blue with silver reflective stripes on the leg, a key pocket attached to the inner liner and an ID pocket on the outside of the lower right leg. The t-shirt is a moisture wicking fabric with reflective Air Force logos on the upper left portion of the chest and across the back. The jacket is blue with silver reflective piping and a reflective inverted chevron on the back. The pants are blue with silver piping and reflective stripes.
Although there have been a lot of complaints in the Air Force Times about the length of the shorts being too short, the Uniform Board outright ignores those complaints and in fact is designing a new pair of shorts that will be even shorter for the long distance runners.
- ^ a b Whatever Happened to the Plain Blue Suit? By Bruce D. Callander, Air Force Magazine Online; Journal of the Air Force Association, July 2006, accessed 11/11/07.
- ^ Department of the Air Force (2002). DRESS AND APPEARANCE OF AIR FORCE PERSONNEL. Retrieved September 2 2007.
- ^ Air Force News. New service dress prototypes pique interest. Retrieved May 18, 2006.
- ^ New service coat to better represent Airmen set for testing, by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski, Air Force Link (official USAF website), 7/19/07, accessed 11/11/07.
- ^ Air Force Link, (2006). Airman Battle Uniform finalized, ready for production. Retrieved March 17, 2006.
- ^ Air Force Link, (2006).Battle Uniform available to deploying Airmen this spring. Retrieved December 10, 2006.
- ^ Memo from HQ AFPC Sep
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