May 15, 2009 (by SSgt. Jennifer Redente) - A contingent of 12 F-22 Raptors landed May 13 completing the arrival of more than 200 Airmen from the 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.
A 525th EFS airman helps direct F-22A block 30 no. 06-4125 to its final parking position after a nine-hour flight from the squadron's home station at Elmendorf AFB on May 12th, 2009. [USAF photo by Christopher Bush]
The 525th EFS, commonly referred to as the Five-Two-Five, deployed here in support of Pacific Command's Theater Security Package maintaining a presence in the Western Pacific.
"We're here ... to position forces in the Pacific a little bit closer to potential areas where they might be needed to support alliances we have made with partner nations," said Lt. Col. Charles S. Corcoran, 525th EFS commander. "It's also an opportunity for us to take our squadron on the road and prove that we are ready; that we can deploy to a forward location and generate combat air power from that location."
The initial Five-Two-Five squadron stood up during WWII and was deactivated in April 1992. The squadron was reactivated at Elmendorf in October 2007, and is the second operational F-22 squadron in Pacific Air Forces. The organization became operational May 1 when it officially began reporting readiness in the Status of Resources and Training system.
The Five-Two-Five is ready to provide support to the TSP mission here and hopes to achieve many operational goals.
"First and foremost, we want to make sure we do the mission we came here to do, and that's to support PACOM's TSP," said Colonel Corcoran. "Second, we want to join the 36th Wing as full-fledged members. We're here as part of an expeditionary fighter squadron absorbed into the 36th Wing, and we're going to wear the 36th Wing patch proudly while we're here and do everything the [it] needs us to do in order to support it."
In addition to supporting the host unit here, the Five-Two-Five also hopes to obtain operational goals as well.
"The Five-Two-Five was closed down after Desert Storm after the large drawdown that we had, and it was reopened 15 years later," Colonel Corcoran said. "This is basically our graduation exercise. This is a chance for us to show our leadership that we are in fact ready."
Since the re-activation of the Five-Two-Five, the squadron has been training and preparing with the newest resources the Air Force leadership has provided the unit.
"It's our chance to demonstrate that we can go on the road with all those resources and accomplish the mission that the Five-Two-Five has been tasked to do, which is to gain and maintain air superiority with our newest fighter - the F-22 Raptor."
The commander also explained that the Five-Two-Five Airmen have their personal and professional goals of their own as well.
"We are going to work hard on their education; we are going to work hard on physical fitness, and we're going to work hard at getting to know each other's jobs better," said Colonel Corcoran. "Operators working with maintainers and maintainers working with operators [is crucial] so we expect to have a great summer here at Andersen with the 36th Wing."
Among the many Airmen looking forward to this deployment is Senior Airmen Matthew C. Borie, 525th EFS intelligence analysis.
"Being a part of the TSP is a pretty big deal to me," said Airman Borie. "I've had some friends who have been able to deploy out here and do some of the same types of things. I hope to learn a lot about the region itself, about some of the countries in the area, how we support some of the other missions going on in the Pacific and integrating with other assets that are here as well.
"It's a big learning experience being here as well because being at Elmendorf, we don't get a lot of experience with the B-2s especially, and it's going to give us the chance to work with them and see how they fight the war that we might be supporting them in some day," he said.
Airman Borie's supervisor is also proud to be a part of the squadron's first deployment since re-activation.
"I feel great about being out here with the squadron," said 1st Lt. Louis J. Kishkunas, 525th EFS chief of intelligence. "There's no better job in the Air Force than actually being with an operational flying unit, and there's no better deal for that unit than being able to go out there and do the mission and provide that force support that is needed out here in the Pacific and support the commander."
The F-22 Raptor deployments are the fifth and sixth in the Pacific theater for the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft. The F-22A features a combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability and integrated avionics, coupled with superior supportability.
"I've had the good fortune of flying the F-22 since 2002, as part of the initial test and evaluation cadre at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.," said Colonel Cocoran. "I've seen the airplane come a long way - from a lot of ideas of this transformational fifth-generation platform that looked good on paper and in PowerPoint presentations, to an operational platform currently fielded in four fully operational squadrons and two [major commands] that are not only living up to but exceeding our expectations. It's a pleasure to be a part of the program, and it makes me proud to be in our Air Force."
From test missions to being a part of the 1st Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., the 525th EFS commander has had a great deal of experience with the Raptor.
"I've seen the jet perform like no other airplane that the world has ever known," he said. "It truly is a game changer as far as gaining control of the skies. I flew the F-15 for many, many years. It's a great airplane. It's undefeated in combat. It can't hold a candle to the F-22."
Colonel Corcoran said the four factors that make the F-22 so special are its stealth, speed, integrated avionics and maneuverability. These traits, built into the fifth-generation Raptor from day one, clearly separate it from the pack.
The Five-Two-Five replaced its sister squadron, the 90th Fighter Squadron, which left Andersen in mid-April.