July 14, 2010 (by SSgt. Mike Meares) - Total force integration set the stage for the Hawaii National Guard, alongside Airmen from the Pacific Air Forces, as they marked the arrival of the first pair of F-22 Raptors during a ceremony on July 9.
USAF F-22A block 20 no. 03-4045 soars through the skies on its way home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii on July 2nd, 2010. [USAF photo by SrA. Gustavo Gonzalez]
The Raptors' arrival to the 199th Fighter Squadron and the 15th Wing marks the first Air National Guard lead F-22 association in the nation. This partnership is a "reverse association," where the active-duty counterpart will soon re-activate the 19th Fighter Squadron.
"This construct marks an important partnership between the National Guard and the active-duty forces," said Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard Bureau chief. "I couldn't be more proud ... about taking pride in total force integration. I think it's a crown jewel, in all of our services, to have this type of team spirit here in evidence today."
The ceremony marked the beginning of the newest partnership between the Hawaii Air National Guard and the active-duty Air Force flying the "fifth generation" fighter at Hickam Air Force Base. The F-22s will be flown by pilots from the 199th Fighter Squadron, 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard, and active-duty pilots from the 19th Fighter Squadron. The aircraft will also be maintained by a combination of Hawaii Air National Guardsmen and active-duty Airmen.
"Total force integration is a force multiplier," said Lt. Col. Harvey Newton, the 15th Operations Group and incoming 19th Fighter Squadron commander. "We bring the best of both together and capitalize on each other's strengths. The Air National Guard has highly experienced pilots, operations personnel and maintenance professionals who are the best at what they do."
From experiences in the field and at home, Colonel Newton said he believes each group is great at what they do because they have spent years honing their trades to become the best. The active component brings a breadth of experience from around the combat air forces and a full-time work force that can be tasked at anytime.
"We have recognized the synergy that is gained from (total force integration), and it has become the Combat Air Forces model," Colonel Newton said. "The HIANG (Hawaii Air National Guard) is a highly respected ... unit and their merits stand on their own. (Total force integration) will only help the HIANG and 15th wing to reach new heights."
Those new heights will come in the way of increased operations tempo as the Hawaii F-22 squadron is only one of seven operational squadrons, Colonel Newton said.
Until now, Elmendorf AFB
, Alaska, has been the exclusive home to the F-22 in the Pacific Air Forces area of operations. The introduction of the most advanced fighter jet in the world further strengthens the Pacific.
"We owe it to our nation, and her protected citizens, to equip our Airmen, our nation's sons and daughters, with the very best that we can," said Gen. Gary L. North, the Pacific Air Forces commander. "The F-22's advanced technologies are an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities for the U.S. forces. Alongside our superb Airmen who operate, maintain, support this aircraft, it represents an overmatching capability to any known or projected adversary fighter aircraft."
The arrival of the F-22 reverse association at Hickam AFB is not a new concept for these Airmen working side-by-side. The active-duty and guard members already share the C-17 Globemaster III in a traditional association where the active-duty Airmen take the lead.
"Our Airmen in uniform, alongside their civilian counterparts, form the total force integration of active association initiatives where the Hawaii Air National Guard has the lead and our active-duty Airmen will operate alongside," General North said. "This partnership ... forms the bond in testament of our total force and it is the envy of the world."
The F-22s will replace the F-15 Eagles that the 199th Fighter Squadron has flown since 1987. The F-22 is designed to counter lethal threats posed by advanced surface-to-air missile systems and next-generation fighters equipped with a launch-and-leave missile capability.
For Colonel Newton, an F-22 pilot, there isn't an amusement park or thrill ride on the face of the planet that measures up to flying the most advanced fighter jet known to man.
"Imagine the best amusement park and the best ride and then quadruple the experience -- and that is what it feels like to fly the F-22," he said. "It is awesome."