F-22 Raptor crew chiefs begin training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jacob Corbin
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
The first class of F-22 Raptor crew chiefs began training Jan. 29 at the $21 million Raptor Maintenance Training Facility at Sheppard.

Seven Airmen new to the Air Force, and one cross-trainee from the Virginia Air National Guard, are the first to undergo initial skills training on the F-22.

"Thank God for an American people who understand when you field a fifth-generation fighter, you need fifth-generation training," said Brig. Gen. Richard T. Devereaux the 82nd Training Wing commander when the facility officially opened in October.

The journey for one Airman in training began months ago when he learned his future was with the Raptor.

"It's almost a dream to work on this aircraft," said Airman 1st Class Aaron Tate. "It was a surprise when I got my orders (and) it said 'F-22 crew chief.' I just jumped up and down." 

For the base, the dream began in February 2005 when crews broke ground on the facility here. The vision didn't end with the construction of the facility. It expanded with a unique way of looking at training maintainers.

The new concept is to have various maintainer career fields such as crew chiefs, avionics, munitions and fuels, located in one facility that is airframe-specific, consolidating every specialty related to the F-22.

"We have really changed how we view training," said Col. Steven Morani, commander of the 82nd Training Group. "This building is the model for the future of training in the Air Force."

The course will feature a heavy dose of computer-based training, including F-22 mockups for hands-on training. The full-scale devices will allow instructors to provide input and stumbling blocks for the crew chief-in-training to troubleshoot and repair the problems on their own.

G. Jay Brown, a program manager with the corporation that produced the cockpit trainer and seat and canopy trainer, said most of the mockups are made from actual aircraft parts. That means by the time the crew chiefs graduate and move on the work on actual F-22s, they are already familiar with the aircraft.

"It's what they'll actually see and feel on the real aircraft," he said. "If they go anywhere in the world, (they'll) know exactly what (they) are doing."

The mockups cost about three percent of the cost of an actual aircraft, and free up F-22s that would otherwise have been set aside for training.

Staff Sgt. Abiasaph Maldonado Jr., a member of the 192nd Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va., said that while he hasn't worked on a F-22, his Guard unit has been servicing the aircraft since its arrival at the Air Combat Command base. 

"I'm very excited to be in this course," he said. "I've seen what (the F-22) can do. To be part of something as great as the F-22 is just awesome. It's just unbelievable."

The crew chiefs will have little time to occupy the building alone. Armament and avionics courses are scheduled to begin within the next week and six more crew chief classes are scheduled to begin before the first class graduates in April.

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