The US Air Force turned 69 this week — here are 22 photos of it doing what it does best

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The US Air Force celebrates its official birthday on September 18. Created by the National Security Act after World War II, the Air Force turned 69 years old on Sunday.

In those 69 years, the Air Force has expanded and perfected its ability to take off, land, lift, transport, strike, and observe from the skies over any part of the world.

To celebrate the 69th birthday of the US Air Force, we've compiled some of our favorite photos showing the broad range of planes the USAF flies, the plethora of duties it performs, and the many allies who count on it.

23 PHOTOS
The Air Force doing what the Air Force does best
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The Air Force doing what the Air Force does best

A B-2 Spirit bomber sits on the flightline prior to takeoff at Whiteman Air Force Base.

(Photo via USAF)

A C-130J Super Hercules from the 41st Airlift Squadron flies past Denali, the highest peak in North America.

(Photo via USAF)

Paratroopers descend onto Fort Bragg’s Sicily Drop Zone after exiting an Air Force C-130 aircraft over Fort Bragg.

(Photo via US Army/Cpt. Thomas J. Cieslak)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, assigned to the 79th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, waves at the boom operator after a mid-air refueling during Red Flag 16-3 over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

(Photo via USAF)

Airmen from the 315th Airlift Wing work to prepare a C-17 Globemaster III for an airdrop mission with soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division during exercise Crescent Reach 16 on May 26, 2016.

(Photo via USAF)

Special tactics airmen from the 24th Special Operations Wing jump out of an MC-130H Combat Talon II at Hurlburt Field.

(Photo via USAF)

Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Air Refueling Wing welcomes an A-10C Thunderbolt II from Moody Air Force Base on September 1, 2016.

(Photo via US Air Force)

A US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress leads a formation of aircraft including two Polish air force F-16 Fighting Falcons, four US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, two German Eurofighter Typhoons, and four Swedish Gripens over the Baltic Sea.

(Photo via USAF)

Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, an F-35 Lightning II program-integration officer, lowers the canopy on an F-16 Fighting Falcon before taxiing to take off.

(Photo via USAF)

Senior Airman Taylor Lancaster, a 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft crew chief, guides a B-52H Stratofortress on Minot Air Force Base.

(Photo via USAF)

A B-1B Lancer takes off from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to conduct combat operations.

(Photo via USAF)

A C-130 Hercules flies over Izu Peninsula, Japan.

(Photo via USAF)

Emergency medical technicians exit a CV-22 Osprey at Melrose Air Force Range on August 25, 2016.

(Photo via USAF)

An Air Force and a Marine Corps CV-22 Osprey crew assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron prepares for takeoff during exercise Emerald Warrior 16 on May 12, 2016.

(Photo via USAF)

A B-52H Stratofortress flies over Minot Air Force Base.

(Photo via USAF)

Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Jonas, the 374th Operations Support Squadron’s survival, evasion, resistance, and escape operations NCO in charge, jumps out of a C-130 Hercules while flying over Yokota Air Base.

(Photo via USAF)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from Joint Base Langley-Eustis receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker while taking part in exercise Red Flag 16-3 at Nellis Air Force Base.

(Photo via USAF)

An F-15E Strike Eagle soars above Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range at Moody Air Force Base.

(Photo via USAF)

Airmen from the 25th Aircraft Maintenance Unit prepare an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a simulated combat sortie in support of exercise Beverly Midnight 16-01 at Osan Air Base.

(Photo via US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Rachelle Coleman)

An F-22 pilot from the 95th Fighter Squadron gets situated in his aircraft prior to taking off from Amari Air Base in Estonia.

(Photo via US Air Force)

A B-1 Lancer flies over the Norma Brown building during the 75th Diamond Anniversary ceremony on Goodfellow Air Force Base.

(Photo via USAF)

A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies a training mission over Tucson, Arizona.

(Photo via US Air Force)

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