USAF personnel wear uniforms that are distinct from those of the other branches of the United States armed forces. The first USAF dress uniform, in 1947, was dubbed and patented "Uxbridge Blue" after "Uxbridge 1683 Blue", developed at the former Bachman-Uxbridge Worsted Company. The current 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. USAF 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 aiguillette placed on the left shoulder seam and all devices and accoutrement.

The current utility uniform is called the Airman Battle Uniform (ABU). The previous utility uniform called the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) is still authorized for wear but is becoming less common. The ABU is scheduled to completely replace the BDU by October 1, 2011 (Fiscal Year 2012).

US Air Force Service dress

When the U.S. Army Air Corps 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 service's transition to the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1941, to an independent U.S. Air Force in 1947, and into 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. The first Air Force dress uniform, in 1947, was dubbed and patented "Uxbridge Blue" after "Uxbridge 1683 Blue", developed at the former Bachman-Uxbridge Worsted Company. Khaki service dress uniforms and khaki long sleeve shirts known as Shade 1505 continued into use into the early 1960s. Shade 1505 short sleeve cotton shirts and trousers for males also continued in use until the mid-1970s, while females wore light blue combinations. In the early-1970s, a light blue Shade 1550 short sleeve shirt or blouse and Shade 1549 dark blue trousers replaced these earlier duty uniform variants and the blue service dress uniform became the single form of service dress.

Prior to 1993, all air force personnel wore blue service uniforms (Shade 1549 coats and trousers and Shade 1550 shirts) very similar in appearance to the green Service Dress "A" and "B" uniforms of the U.S. Army. The current U.S. Air Force Service Dress Uniform, which was adopted in 1993, standardized in 1995, and made mandatory in 2000, consists of a three-button coat, similar to that of a men's "sport jacket" (with silver mirror-finish "U.S." pins on the lapels), matching trousers, and either a service cap or flight cap, all in Shade 1620, "Air Force Blue". This is worn with a light blue shirt (Shade 1550) and a herringbone patterned necktie (Shade 1620). Enlisted airmen wear sleeve insignia on both the jacket and shirt, while officers wear metal rank insignia pinned onto the epaulets of the coat, and Air Force Blue slide-on loops on the epaulets of the shirt. Prospective commissioned officers in a pre-commissioning status, i.e., USAFA cadets, college and university AFROTC cadets, and OTS officer trainees wear slide-on cadet or officer trainee "soft rank" insignia on their shirts and hard "shoulder boards" (similar to commissioned officer mess dress shoulder epaulette insignia) on their service dress coats, again with cadet or officer trainee rank insignia appropriate to their specific commissioning program. The typical headgear is a soft peaked "flight cap," with blue cloth piping for enlisted personnel, medium density silver metallic thread piping for cadets/officer trainees, company grade and field grade officers, and heavy density silver metallic thread piping for general officers.

Air force personnel assigned to base honor guard duties wear, for certain occasions, a modified version of the standard service dress uniform, with silver trim on the sleeves and trousers, a ceremonial belt (if necessary), wheel cap with silver trim and Hap Arnold cap device, and a silver aiguillete placed on the left shoulder seam.

The service dress uniform currently worn is a modification of the original version envisioned by former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Merrill McPeak, which featured no epaulets for any rank, and silver braid loops on the lower sleeves denoting officer rank. This style of rank insignia for officers, while used by British Royal Air Force officers and air force officers of other British commonwealth and former commonwealth nations, is also the style of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard service dress blue uniforms. The insignia was unpopular and many senior Air Force generals commented that the uniforms of the Air Force now looked identical to those of commercial 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 officer rank insignia and a single 1/2 inch wide stripe of dark blue cloth sleeve braid for company and field grade officers and a single 1 inch wide strip for general officers returned to the bottom of the sleeves. 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.

The service dress uniform includes the three button blue coat. However, as a matter of practicality for daily duty, particularly in warm weather climates, USAF personnel will typically wear the short-sleeve or long-sleeve Shade 1550 light blue shirt (for men) or short-sleeve or long-sleeve light blue blouse (for women) as an outergarment, with or without ties and with or without tie tab, with applicable rank insignia, speciality badge(s) and a blue plastic nametag (ribbons are optional). A variety of alternate outergarmets are also authorized for this uniform combination such as blue pullover sweater, blue cardigan sweater, lightweight blue jacket, or brown leather A-2 flight jacket (A-2 flight jacket wear is limited to aeronautically rated officers, enlisted aircrew, and officer and enlisted space and missile operations personnel only).

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 U.S. Army Air Forces' Uniform of World War II and named the "Hap Arnold heritage coat". If the stand-collar coat was selected, it would be the first stand-collar "everyday" uniform to be issued since the 1930s (the U.S. Navy's and U.S. Coast Guard's male service dress white and full dress white and the U.S. Marine Corps' male service dress blue and full 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. However, in 2009, General Norton Schwartz, the new Chief of Staff of the Air Force, directed that "no further effort be made on the [Hap Arnold] Heritage Coat" so that the focus would remain on near-term uniform needs. While the evaluation results of the heritage coat would be made available to the Air Force's leaders should they decide to implement the uniform change, the uniform overhaul is currently on hold indefinitely.

US Air Force Mess Dress

The Mess Dress Uniform is worn to formal or semi-formal occasions such as Dinings-in, Dinings-out, the annual Air Force Ball, weddings and other formal functions where civilian "black tie" would be prescribed. The uniform consists of a dark blue mess jacket and mess dress trousers. The jacket features ornate silver buttons, and is worn with the service member's awarded medals in miniature size, wings in miniature size, or other specialty insignia over the left breast, command insignia over the right breast for colonels and below (if applicable), satin air force blue bow-tie and a satin air force blue cummerbund. Cufflinks are to be either shined or flat round silver, or have the air force star and wing emblem, black suspenders may also be worn, but remain hidden while the jacket is on. Commissioned officers, USAFA and AFROTC cadets, and OTS officer trainees wear hard shoulder epaulets (i.e., shoulder boards) similar to those worn by commissioned officers of the U.S Navy. Cadets and officer trainees wear insignia on their shoulder boards as applicable to their rank position in their respective commissioning programs. Commissioned officer shoulder boards feature an officer's rank insignia in raised metallic thread, bordered by two silver vertical metallic stipes similar to sleeve braid. General officers wear shoulder boards covered nearly the entire length and width in silver metallic braid, with silver stars in raised metallic thread in number appropriate to their rank. Enlisted personnel wear the same large rank insignia that they would wear on their service dress coats. Officers also wear a single silver metallic sleeve braid on the lower sleeves of the Mess Dress coat, with sleeve braid coming in two widths, in a 1/2 inch width for colonel and below, and in a 1 inch width for Brigadier General and above. Enlisted personnel wear no sleeve braid. No hat or nametag is worn with the Air Force Mess Dress Uniform.

US Air Force Utility uniform

For combat and work duty, ground personnel wear the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), which will be phased out in favor of the Airman Battle Uniform (ABU). This uniform is also authorized as an optional item for flight crew and missile personnel when not directly engaged in flight crew or missile launch duties that would typically require a Nomex flight suit.

The Airman Battle Uniform was issued to Airmen deploying as part of Air Expeditionary Force 7 and Air Expeditionary Force 8 (AEF 7 / AEF 8) in Spring 2007. In October 2007, ABUs were issued to enlisted Basic Trainees at the Basic Military Training School (BMTS) at Lackland AFB, Texas, and became 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 1 November 2011.

Pilots, navigators/combat systems officers, air crews and missile crews will continue to wear olive green or desert tan one-piece flight suits made of Nomex for fire protection when performing, or when in direct support of, flying or missile duties, or when otherwise prescribed.

US Air Force Women's uniforms

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, ABU, or the flight suit, both of which come in unisex sizes.

US Air Force Physical Training Uniform

The Air Force designed new Physical Training Uniform that became mandatory for wear on October 1, 2006. The gear consists of shorts, t-shirt, jacket and pants. They are often times referred to as "swishy suits" due to the swishing sound produced by the pants while running.

The 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.

The Air Force PTU is being redesigned for issue beginning in 2010. The new design will keep the same outer appearance but the jacket and pants are being altered with vents and an alternate material to allow for better breathing to answer to the complaints that they are too hot.

US Air Force Uniforms: Safety equipment

Reflective belts are required to be worn during times from sunset to sunrise in many deployed locations by Air Force and Army personnel. They are required to be worn in every uniform, often including the already-reflective PT gear. Great priority is placed on wearing the reflective belt and disciplinary actions have been taken against military members not wearing the appropriate reflective belt.

US Air Force Uniforms: Civil Air Patrol

Personnel of the Civil Air Patrol, the all volunteer civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force, are permitted to wear certain Air Force uniforms with distinctive CAP markings and insignia. Senior Members (age 18 and older) may only wear Air Force style uniforms if they meet military grooming and slightly modified military weight standards. Cadets (age 12-21) must only meet military grooming standards until their 18th birthday, at which time they must meet both military grooming and military weight standards. Members who don't meet Air Force standards may wear alternate CAP-specific uniforms.

Air Force uniforms authorized for wear by Civil Air Patrol members include Service Dress, Mess Dress (for Senior Members only), the woodland camoflauge Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), the green Nomex flight suit, and the CWU-45P green Nomex flight jacket, the latter two items being restricted to aircrew only. CAP distinctive markings include gray rank slides on the duty uniform, as opposed to blue rank slides of Air Force officers, as well as gray rank slides on the Service Dress coat where Air Force officers wear pin-on metal rank insignia. Mess Dress is also distinctive in that shoulder boards for CAP Senior Member officers in the ranks of Colonel and below worn on Mess Dress uniforms, and the sleeve braid for all CAP Senior Member officer ranks, will be dark blue cloth versus the silver metallic cloth worn by Air Force officers. Cadet enlisted uniforms also differ in rank placement, with collar pins instead of the sewn sleeve chevrons traditionally worn by enlisted Air Force members. Currently, CAP also wears the BDU with blue and white name/branch tapes and blue and white/yellow rank insignia, similar to what was worn by United States Air Force personnel on the since-discontinued solid green Air Force fatigue uniforms of the 1960s and 1970s. All of these changes are made to reduce confusion in identifying the military members of the Regular Air Force, the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard with the civilian members of CAP as the Air Force Auxiliary.

Civil Air Patrol typically lags behind the U.S. Air Force by several years in authorizing Air Force uniform changes. This is due mostly to the fact that many CAP units often rely on surplus or used USAF uniforms for its members, particularly CAP Cadets. CAP is expected to be granted authority to wear the ABU, with CAP distinctive changes, sometime after full roll out is completed for the active duty Air Force and the Air Reserve Components in November 2011.

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