June 19, 2009 (by TSgt. Rey Ramon) - Air Force F-22 Raptors soar through the skies of Okinawa bringing formidable air dominance, stealth and an overwhelming advantage that is unrivaled by any aircraft making it the modern marvel of this era.
Two USAF F-22 Raptors fly over Kadena AB on January 15th, 2009. [USAF photo by SrA. Clay Lancaster]
"This aircraft is like no other plane in the planet," said Lt. Col. Pete Fesler, 94th Fighter Squadron director of operations. "The combination of stealth, maneuverability, and speed, it brings to the fight by itself is impressive."
The Raptor, unlike previous fighters, has an amazing integrated avionics in combination with state-of-the-art sensors enhancing the pilot's situational awareness of the battle space. This form of technology is what gives the pilot an advantage by seeing the enemy first, to out fly and outmaneuver the enemy in combat engagements.
"This aircraft combines them all into a single colored picture," Colonel Fesler said. "It really helps us out in what's going on."
This is the fighter squadron's first air expeditionary force deployment to the Pacific region. The Raptors are operating out of Kadena Air Base as part of a routine PACOM theater security package deployment.
"Our role in this specifically is like all the others and that's to add additional forces to the region," said the director of operations.
The colonel explains the uniqueness of this deployment for the squadron is the chance to operate in a different environment, base, and against any "would-be" adversary. The squadron made a 10,000 mile journey with more than 250 personnel and all the equipment needed to operate in an environment they are not used to.
"This helps us to improve our ability to remain expeditionary," Colonel Fesler said, "and project power when we are called to do so."
The squadron trains every day for any mission that might be out there, regardless if it's in the Pacific theater, the Middle East, or any other theater, he added.
Since the aircraft became part of the Air Force's arsenal, the Raptor has not seen combat. What the aircraft does bring to the fight is the optimization of air-to-air capabilities, offensive counter air or defensive counter air or air-to-ground strikes -- and any other kind of air mission.
"I can tell you that in training sorties and the things we've done to prepare for combat, it's unmatched," the colonel said. "No one else can touch us. We have the finest fighter ever built in the world."
The Raptors will continue to conduct their daily operations from Kadena as a forward power projection platform.
Colonel Fesler said he will do his best to have his pilots ready for any tasking and to make sure the jets are ready with the help of the Raptors' maintenance professionals.
"We'll continue to train and be ready for anything," he added.