The German Air Force (German: Luftwaffe, the German-language generic term for air force is the aerial warfare branch of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of Germany. With a strength of 28,230 personnel (31 July 2016), it is the fourth largest air force within the European Union, after the air forces of the United Kingdom, France and Italy. Although its budget has been significantly reduced since the end of the Cold War in 1989–1990, the Luftwaffe is still among the best-equipped air forces of the world.
The German Air Force (as part of the Bundeswehr) was founded in 1956 during the era of the Cold War as the aerial warfare branch of the armed forces of then West Germany. After the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990, it integrated parts of the air force of the former German Democratic Republic, which itself had been founded in 1956 as part of the National People’s Army. There is no organizational continuity between the current Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr and the former Luftwaffe of the Wehrmacht combined forces founded in 1935, which was completely disbanded in 1946 after World War II. The term Luftwaffe that is used for both the historic and the current German air force is the German-language generic designation of any air force.
The commander of the German Air Force is Lieutenant General Karl Müllner. In 2015, the Air Force uses eleven air bases, two of which host no flying units. Furthermore, the Air Force has a presence at three civil airports. In 2012, the Air Force had an authorized strength of 28,475 active soldiers and 4,914 reservists.
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