October 6, 2010 (by SSgt. Beth Del Vecchio) - The 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Langley Air Force Base, Va., is redeploying after four months in support of the Theater Security Package mission.
Servicemembers from Langley AFB pose for a group shot while deployed to Andersen AFB and the 27th EFS.
The 12 F-22 Raptors will head back to the 1st Fighter Wing, along with the more than 289 personnel that seamlessly integrated into the operations at Andersen.
The 27th hit the ground running in June, but the work started long before they got to the island. Their hard work and forward thinking paid off. By the end of July, the Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit had decreased the number of ground aborts due to the wet weather effects on the F-22, by 78 percent for the month.
"A sister Raptor squadron, deployed here last summer, lost a lot of sorties due to the extreme wet weather," said Capt. Adrienne Stahl, 27 EAMU Officer in charge. "Our Specialists and Low Observable technicians put in a lot of work to make modifications to the jets in preparation for the rainy season in Guam."
And that was just the beginning.
In August, the Team Langley Packaged Maintenance Plans and LO sections made history by completing two accelerated PMPs in 10 days each, which had never been accomplished on an F-22. A PMP is heavy maintenance performed on the Raptors every 300 flight hours. The process normally takes more than a month to complete.
"Our Airmen reduced the traditional PMP time by 34 days and did it with 30 percent less personnel than we would have dedicated to the task at home station," said Captain Stahl. "We did it faster and with less people, than has ever been done before. This was important because we proved that we could keep up with any wartime sortie generation scenario."
But that first was not the last for the 27th EFS. The squadron took the fight on the road to Japan for Exercise Coral Mustang, a training operation involving the forward deployment of eight F-22s, 90 personnel and seven short tons of cargo from an already deployed location.
"We've done smaller, one and two-ship forward deployments, but we've never tried it with this much cargo, people and airplanes," said Lt. Col. Pete Fesler, 27th EFS commander. "It worked out great. In fact, we returned home with 45 out of 46 scheduled sorties flown, which are a testament to the caliber of our maintenance team."
Soon after Coral Mustang, the squadron was back in the cockpit and turning wrenches for Exercise Valiant Shield 2010, a U.S. Pacific Command Exercise focusing on integrated joint training with our sister services.
"The exercise was unique because most of the time when we train, we do part-task training focused on a narrow segment of our combat missions. It might be a fight that lasts only 20 minutes and then we come back," said Colonel Fesler. "This training was more representative of how we will actually employ our forces, where we have a long drive to get to the fight, we hit the tanker and join a fight already in progress, then go back to the tanker and back into the fight - multiple iterations of this and then at the end, still have a long flight home."
During Valiant Shield, the pilots flew sorties sometimes 400-miles to the fight and back to the base. Normally, they travel 80-150 miles away.
"We had to manage weapons and fuel differently than in our part-task training at home or even here at Andersen prior to Valiant Shield," the colonel said. "It was more like a war-time rehearsal."
According to Captain Stahl, the 27th flew 80 sorties and 210 flight hours during Valiant Shield. Maintainers on the ground, who were used to one to two-hour sorties, were seeing up to six-hour sorties.
"The operations tempo that the maintenance folks were moving at, with the short turn times along with multiple aircraft landing at the same time, really tested our abilities and what we could handle," said Captain Stahl. "We learned how the airplanes would react to longer sorties, and how quickly we could turn the jets and get them back into the fight."
In four short months, the 27th EFS had not only broken records and set the standard, they had honed skills they will take with them to other parts of the world. Colonel Fesler and Captain Stahl agreed that they could not have been successful without the support of Team Andersen.
"Andersen's airfield team dealt with a quantity of aircraft that they aren't used to and they did great," Colonel Fesler said. "We could not have safely conducted our operations without the work that Andersen's team did so professionally."
Captain Stahl echoed the colonel's remarks.
"Every single maintainer came to Andersen and integrated into already established permanent party organizations - Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Maintenance Squadron, Munitions Squadron, Logistics Readiness Squadron and Communications Squadron, to name a few," she said. "The permanent party folks here took all of our people in and gave them great support throughout our deployment."