January 24, 2008 (by A1C David Carbajal) - As children, we are told, "You have to walk before you can run." The 90th Fighter Squadron is doing a similar task by completing steps to declare initial operational capability, with the overall goal of declaring full operational capability.
A 90th AMU crew chief signals an F-22A Raptor laden with concrete bombs to begin its departure for a training mission. For the first time at Elmendorf, a mock bomb drop over Alaska January 16th, 2008 provides integral training for both fighters and maintainers in preparation to declare its initial operation capabilities.
The 90th FS
and 90th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) exercised a mock bomb drop over the Alaska training range Jan. 16.
"This was an excellent opportunity for both our pilots and maintainers to experience real-world operations," said Lt. Col. Mike Shower, the 90th FS commander.
The 90th AMU Airmen produced the concrete-filled mock bomb and loaded it into an F-22A Raptor.
After launching the Raptor, the pilots dropped the munitions as if they were in a real-life scenario.
This completed task is an essential one to declare IOC, said Colonel Shower.
Declaring IOC is the official "ready for war" statement.
"This means that the Air Force asks who is ready to deploy, we have the ability to answer the call," said Colonel Shower.
Other beneficial training opportunities will occur during Red Flag-Alaska and Northern Edge exercises.
"These are key events to insure our pilots, many of whom are new to the Raptor, have seen large composite force missions similar to what they'd experience in combat," said Colonel Shower.
"These exercises will also help balance the time lost by some additional, unforeseen mission requirements," he added.
The added alert mission isn't the only obstacle for the 90th FS and AMU.
"Here at Elmendorf, the lack of facilities combined with the cold temperatures and arctic weather make it more challenging than at other operational bases," the commander said.
Several tasks must be completed before the declaration can be made.
"Aside from the bomb drops, we have to deploy Airmen and equipment off base, deploy jets off station, sit Alert and participate in the OREs (operational readiness exercises)," said Capt. Megan Rogers, the 90th AMU officer in charge.
"We're planning a WSEP (weapons system evaluation program) at Tyndall (Air Force Base, Fla.) early next month to mark off that task on our check list," she added.
The unit has plans on deploying eight aircraft, equipment and several personnel for two weeks during this WSEP TDY.
The unit hopes to fulfill all of the requirements to declare IOC in August.