December 22, 2009 (by SSgt. Sanjay Allen) - The 8th Fighter Squadron received their first of 20 F-22 Raptors on the afternoon of December 21.
Lt. Col. Craig Baker, 8th FS commander, taxis F-22A block 20 no. 04-4077 assigned to the 8th FS on the afternoon of December 21st, 2009. [USAF photo by SrA. John D. Strong II]
The arrival of 8th FS
flagship, a Langley AFB
Raptor -- which came from maintenance in Palmdale, Calif. -- starts the next chapter of the "Black Sheep's" storied history that started in 1941 when the squadron was assigned to the 49th Pursuit Group, where during World War II, their pilots amassed 207 aerial victories.
"Air dominance," said Lt. Col. Craig "Bluto" Baker, 8th FS commander, relating how the F-22 fits into Holloman's history. "The F-22 builds on what previous generations of air superiority fighters have established in the 8th -- a positive kill ratio. The 5th generation F-22 is far superior to any enemy aircraft today. U.S. Air Force pilots, the F-22 and its psychological effects all contribute to maintain that positive kill ratio [which is] a must to gaining and maintaining air superiority."
Col. Baker assumed command of the squadron Sept. 25 after a brief period of inactivity. The 8th has not had any aircraft assigned to it since the F-117 retired in April 2008. The pilots and maintainers will work hand-in-hand with the 7th Fighter Squadron as a "super squadron" until the "Screamin' Demons" of the 7th deploy next summer. When that happens the squadrons roles will reverse.
Working together with Lt. Col. Mike "Pigpen" Hernandez, 7th FS commander, as a super squadron has ran like a well-oiled machine since the two commanders have a history of working together.
"Pigpen and I have worked together since 1999 ... so luckily our policies, our thoughts, our tactics and opinions generally fall in line together," said Colonel Baker. "His opinions for the squadron are the ones that I share so it makes it relatively easy."
The 7th and 8th FS have been working together since 1941, so none of this is new to the "Screamin' Demons" or the "Black Sheep."
The nickname, the "Black Sheep," dates back to 1943, when the 49th Fighter Group was transitioning from the P-47 Thunderbolt to the P-38 Lightning. The 8th was the last of the three squadrons to receive the P-38 aircraft and pilots began calling them "The Black Sheep." The name has remained through various conflicts, base changes and airframe changes.
Previously, the 8th flew such diverse aircraft as the F-117, F-15, F-4, F-80, P-51 and P-38.