PACAF unveils first F-22

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Deborah VanNierop
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Pacific Air Forces' officials got a glimpse into the future of fighter capability during a tail flash unveiling ceremony here today in which PACAF's first F-22 Raptor was unveiled.

The aircraft, which is still under construction, will be the first of 36 F-22s assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, beginning next year. The base will become home to two active-duty F-22 squadrons well as a reserve associate squadron.

PACAF officials said that with the unveiling, the command is one step closer to ushering in a new era in fighter capability.

"I'm excited about getting this incredible new air dominance capability into the Pacific," said General Paul V. Hester, PACAF commander. "F-22s based in Alaska in the near-term and Hawaii in the mid-term demonstrate the tremendous American commitment to the region by assuring security and stability for our nation, as well as for our friends and allies. In the future, the aircraft also will be assigned to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. The 199th Fighter Squadron of the Hawaii Air National Guard will fly the F-22 and the 531st Fighter Squadron will be an Active associate squadron to them.

The Air Force's newly operational Raptors, stationed at Langley AFB, Va., are already leaving a powerful impression in the fighter community, officials said. In June, the F-22 was put to the test during Northern Edge 2006, a two-week joint service exercise held in Alaska. The F-22's capabilities were highlighted there during several air-to-air engagements that included facing an opposing force at a 4-to-1 disadvantage.

Maintenance for the Raptor also set benchmarks with mission completion by having an abort rate of less than 6.4 percent of all missions flown.

"Throughout the exercise we were able to see just how effective this jet can be integrating with multiple joint assets for a number of different missions," explained Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver, 27th Fighter Squadron commander, Langley AFB, Va., and an F-22 pilot.

Perhaps even more impressive is how the F-22 is able to help other aircraft increase their performance, officials said. During Northern Edge, the Raptor was paired with joint-service jets such as F/A-18 Hornets, F-15 Eagles, F-15E Strike Eagles, E/A-6B Prowlers and E-2C Hawkeyes.

"The Raptor's success here (Northern Edge) is something that should be shared among all the services, because it means our entire force has capabilities that it didn't have just a short time ago," Col. Tolliver said.

During a meeting with the Senate Armed Services Sub Committee, Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, gave an update to the Raptor's ability.

"The F-22 has performed excellently during exercises both in and out of the continental United States," Secretary Wynne said, "dominating the current generation fighters, yet integrating seamlessly with ground based operations."

While today's unveiling was a historical event, Gen. Hester agrees that the arrival of the F-22 in PACAF is beneficial not just for the command but for the entire Air Force.

"I'm looking forward to leveraging all three components of our Total Force: Active Duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve to squeeze every ounce of capability out of these great fighters. Our Total Force is critical in today's challenging environments...and I couldn't be more pleased that all three elements are going to be fully engaged in the Raptor business," he said.