February 6, 2013 (by SSgt. Terri Barriere) - A total force team comprised of F-22 Raptors, active duty and Hawaii Air National Guard personnel successfully completed the Hawaiian Raptors first over-water deployment when they returned from Red Flag 13-2 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, February 2.
USAF F-22A block 20 no. 04-4064 from the 199th FS is seen landing at Nellis AFB during Red Flag 13-2 on January 23rd, 2013. [Photo by EOR]
"To the Hawaiian Raptors, this Red Flag deployment had significant meaning," said Lt. Col. Mark Ladtkow, 199th Fighter Squadron commander. "This was the first full scale deployment from the State of Hawaii in the F-22 Raptor. It was a true testament to our total force initiative, as well as our maintenance, operations and support personnel."
Ladtkow said the mission substantiated the crew's ability to mobilize, generate and deploy eight F-22s with their associated equipment and personnel. The F-22s were employed in highly complex day and night operations in nearly all of their mission sets; and demonstrated the ability to redeploy and reconstitute within the allotted time and fiscal constraints.
Red Flag, the largest full-scale exercise that depicts wartime conditions, provided the perfect opportunity for the Hawaiian Raptors to validate their training programs, unit employment capability and overall combat capability.
"We have been working relentlessly over the past two years on our conversion from the F-15 to the F-22," Ladtkow said. "We have worked hard to make our TFI team one to be emulated throughout the Air Force."
In order to prepare for the two week long Red Flag exercise, Ladtkow said the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons worked continuously, both as individual entities and as a team. There were 40 active duty Airmen, 101 Air National Guard Airmen and 11 contractors that came together to make Red Flag 13-2 a success.
According to Ladtkow, the years of preparation and sending his folks to attend other exercises, while continuing to hone their skills in the Air Combat Simulator, paid off. The Hawaiian Raptors were the only unit at Red Flag 13-2 to not lose a single sortie to maintenance or support issues.
Ladtkow said this proves they are ready to deploy and fight when called upon.
Now officially past the "crawl, walk phase" of preparing the Hawaiian Raptors to be combat ready, the team plans to lean on lessons learned at Red Flag and training to take them into the next phase -- getting ready to deploy.
"The Hawaiian Raptors made a strong showing at Red Flag," Maj. Andrew Fessenden, 199th FS
director of weapons, said. "It's quite an accomplishment to orchestrate each mission with more than 90 aircraft, over a dozen airframes and five different countries. While we had our fair share of learning points, there's some satisfaction in knowing that with those lessons learned, we are able to assemble a very formidable and lethal Joint Force product at the end of the day."
Having successfully completed Red Flag 13-2, the Hawaiian Raptors are on the fast track for real world deployments to the area of responsibility in the not-so-distant future.