June 12, 2008 (by David Hopper) - The Air National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing is the first ANG unit to use the F-22 in support of Operation Noble Eagle.
Operation Noble Eagle was established by President George W. Bush to protect the American Homeland following the terrorist attacks in September 2001.
The Guards' 192nd FW operates the F-22 through the 149th Fighter Squadron here.
"The mission for the protection of the homeland has not changed for us since the inception of Operation Noble Eagle," said Lt. Col. James Cox, 149th Fighter Squadron commander. The capability of the 149th to carry out the mission has been greatly increased because of the abilities of the F-22.
The F-22 Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions providing a diverse aerial combat capability for operational concepts. One concept the F-22 has become involved in at Langley is Total Force Integration. An example of TFI is the combination of two force components (active duty and ANG
units) sharing the responsibility of one mission (Operation Noble Eagle).
Under the TFI construct, the 1st Fighter Wing and the 192nd FW provide combat forces in a more cost effective manner to support the defense of the nation, said Lt. Col. David Nardi, 149th Fighter Squadron operations officer. This is the first time the ANG has operated with a front-line fighter soon after reaching full operational capability.
The 1st and 192nd Fighter Wings combined in October 2007 under the Total Force Integration construct. That move made the 192nd the first Guard unit to operate the F-22.
"The integration of the two wings provides the combat capabilities we need to execute the Operation Noble Eagle mission," said Colonel Nardi. The TFI construct adds a tremendous amount of ability from all critical areas required in protecting the nation and fulfilling the Air Force mission around the world.
The F-22 flew its first active-duty flight in support of Operation Noble Eagle in January 2007. The 27th Fighter Squadron (from the 1st FW) was the first unit to conduct an operational flight with live ordinance in the Raptor.
"We do the same thing for Operation Noble Eagle as we would do in theater, in support of the troops," said Colonel Cox. "The F-22 has performed brilliantly and we have seen our best response times to date."