January 15, 2009 (by TSgt. Rey Ramon) - F-22 Raptors took to the skies on January 14 as the 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron began flight operations with the 18th Wing.
USAF F-22A block 20 no. 03-4049 shoots out a flare during an air combat training mission on January 15th, 2009. The F-22A is deployed to Kadena AB, Japan from the 27th FS Langley AFB in support of U.S. Pacific Command. [USAF photo by SrA. Clay Lancaster]
The Raptors will spend the next several months conducting air combat training alongside Kadena's F-15s and will work to integrate with all of the aircraft assigned to the 18th Wing as well as other U.S. military services.
The Raptors are operating out of Kadena as part of a routine PACOM theater security package deployment to the Pacific region.
"The F-22 Raptors are here to demonstrate our commitment to Japan and to the Pacific region with our unique capabilities," said Lt. Col. Lance Pilch, 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. "With the best team of operators and maintainers in the world, we are trained to meet any challenge."
The F-22 provides asymmetric advantages over other aircraft through a combination of stealth, precision, super cruise, and maneuverability. This air superiority fighter also has integrated avionics that give it a level of situational awareness never before seen in a fighter aircraft, said Colonel Pilch.
This advanced technology benefits the pilot, other aircraft operators and warfighters on the ground.
"During our training [at Kadena], the Raptor will demonstrate its capabilities and pass that situational awareness to other fighters," said the colonel. "We can all learn from each other, combine our strengths and become a more effective joint fighting force."
The F-15C Eagle and F-22 Raptor perform similar roles and employ the same type of weapons. However, the Raptor is able to use its stealth capability to penetrate enemy airspace and clear it for follow-on aircraft. According to Capt. Randy St. John, an F-22 pilot with the 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, the Raptor can "kick down the door, sweep out all enemy aircraft and get out without being detected by the enemy."
Capt. St. John said the Raptor deployment to Kadena demonstrates the United States commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.
"It's an important region both for the U.S. and all of its allies - and we like to maintain a presence in the area," said Captain St. John.