US Coins

Air Force medal gets grounded for second time

Collectors now have to wait until mid-July to purchase the U.S. Mint’s 2.5-ounce silver medal honoring the United States Air Force.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint

The U.S. Mint delayed for a second time the release of the U.S. Air Force 2.5-ounce .999 fine silver medal, until mid-July, because projected demand outstrips inventory and the bureau is having difficulty acquiring planchets.

The 2-inch (50.8-millimeter) medals require a special planchet the Mint does not currently use for any other product.

The Mint has now canceled sales dates of Feb. 22 and June 22.

“The total number of ‘Remind Me’ email/text notifications received by the Mint indicates that demand for the Mint’s Air Force 2.5 Ounce Silver Medal — the first in its new Armed Forces Silver Medal Series — will exceed inventory, as the projected demand is greater than supply,” according to a June 22 news release from U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White.

White’s email also indicates the bureau is rectifying issues with attacks on the Mint’s e-commerce platform from bots.

“Other recent silver product offerings have resulted in an extraordinarily high volume of BOT traffic,” according to White’s email. “These BOTs were programmed to conduct technology-driven transactions which interfered with the transactions of many Mint customers.

“The Mint has identified a solution that is expected to mitigate most of the issues caused by BOT traffic. We are working diligently to put that solution in place, as it will enable our website to function more smoothly. Even this robust effort to improve product access remains limited by demand, which continues to outpace our supply of silver blanks. As a result, not everyone will be able to purchase this medal.”

Mint officials also revealed that an issue of a 1-ounce .999 fine silver version of the Air Force Silver Medal (coded SAF1) is planned for sometime in 2022, and customers may now request “Remind Me” notifications for that medal.

The Mint did not disclose an issue price for that future 1-ounce version, nor confirm its finish or designs.

The U.S. Mint’s planned release of the U.S. Air Force silver medal is the first in an intended ongoing series of medals honoring the branches of the U.S. armed forces.

Silver medals to be issued in the series are planned and in progress, to honor the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army, and the two design review panels have already reviewed and made their recommendations for each medal’s designs.

The U.S. Air Force medal’s obverse design is by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Paul C. Balan and sculpted by U.S. Mint Medallic Artist Phebe Hemphill. The focus of Balan’s obverse design is a fighter jet pilot in his cockpit, with F-35 fighter jets flying among the clouds beyond him, and a landscape outlined far below.

The medal’s reverse design was executed by AIP artist Jamie N. Franki and sculpted by Hemphill. It features a dynamic perspective of the three spires of the Air Force Memorial, with one of the spires piercing the border of the medal into the beyond. Surrounding the memorial are members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard in ceremonial assembly. The core values of the Air Force are inscribed around the border, with INTEGRITY FIRST in the top position, flanked by SERVICE BEFORE SELF on the left and EXCELLENCE IN ALL WE DO on the right.

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