July 23, 2008 (by 2nd Lt. Georganne E. Schultz) - Air Combat Command's F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team successfully completed the first ever trans-Atlantic deployment for the F-22 Raptor July 15.
Maj. Paul Moga, F-22 Demonstration Team pilot, taxies down the runway at RAF Fairford, England on July 10 after a practice demonstration for the Farnborough International air show.
Air Combat Command's F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team successfully completed the first ever trans-Atlantic deployment for the F-22 Raptor July 15.
Three F-22 Raptors, piloted by Capt. Chris Bergtholdt, 1st Operations Support Squadron, Capt. Leo Lemelson and Capt. Michael Trujillo, 27th Fighter Squadron, returned to Langley from Royal Air Force Fairford, England, to complete the deployment.
A KC-10 Extender from the 70th Air Refueling Squadron of Travis Air Force Base refueled the aircraft in route and carried the remaining crew members of the team.
The F-22 Demo Team deployed to England to participate in the 2008 Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough International air show.
"We were privileged to make the first trans-Atlantic flight with the Raptor in support of the largest military air show in the world with our closest allies," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Schmidt, F-22 Demo Team chief.
Maj. Paul Moga, F-22 Demo Team commander, led the first Raptors to RAF Fairford July 8. He was joined by Captain Lemelson and Flt. Lt. Dan Robinson, RAF exchange pilot.
"It isn't often you get the opportunity to make F-22 history, and that is exactly how the team treated this deployment," said Major Moga.
Major Moga performed a practice demonstration at Farnborough July 10 and at RAF Fairford July 11.
The F-22 was scheduled to perform formal displays at RAF Fairford on July 12 and 13, but the air show was cancelled due to extensive rain in the days leading up to the show.
Despite the show at RAF Fairford being cancelled, crowds still lined the fences Monday to catch a glimpse of the Raptor taking off and returning to base.
"In the aviation world, the Raptor is the talk of the town, and it was an incredible experience to be part of the team that brought it to England - a place known for its aviation enthusiasts," said Captain Bergtholdt.
The highly anticipated display at the Farnborough International air show was performed as planned on Monday, July 14. Crowds stopped in their tracks to witness the only formal display of the F-22 in England.
"A small piece of the F-22's capabilities lie in its ability to perform maneuvers that other fighters cannot perform - and at very low airspeeds," said Captain Bergtholdt. "Judging by the reaction of the crowd and by the demonstrations put on by other fighters, the F-22 maintains an overwhelming advantage and will be the big dog on the block for some time."
Numerous visitors received an up close and personal look at the F-22 Raptor at RAF Fairford. Among the visitors were Maj. Gen. Jack Egginton, 3rd Air Force vice commander, the Duke of Kent of the British Royal family and Prince Feisal bin Hussein of the Jordanian Royal family.
"Despite adverse weather we were able to capitalize on the opportunity to expand international relations by providing tours to dignitaries, who were grateful for the opportunity to view the jet," said Staff Sgt. David Everett, 94th FS
The first trans-Atlantic deployment for the Raptor required very careful planning and execution, including everything from logistics to security.
Tech. Sgt. Eric Fischer, Program Security manager, conducted a site survey in March to ensure the proper security measures were in place for the F-22 to deploy to England.
"Security forces provided outstanding support and security - some of the best I've ever seen," he said. "No task was too big nor was any detail overlooked."
After much preparation, and now, successful execution, the team is satisfied with its first overseas display.
"Shy of going to combat, this is the most significant operation I have been a part of," said Major Moga. "Months of planning and hard work went into pulling this off, and I can tell you without a doubt that it was a flawlessly executed trip. We are all very proud to have been a part of this, and being able to show our close allies in England the newest capability we are going to bring to the fight is something we will all remember for a lifetime."