August 7, 2006 (by Senior Master Sgt. Deborah VanNierop) - Pacific Air Forces officials are excited about bringing the F-22 Raptor to the command. Aircraft crews will start their training in Virginia before actually landing on the Alaskan tarmac.
F-22A Raptor #04-4065 lands at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, on Tuesday, May 23, 2006. Raptors from the 27th FS at Langley AFB, Virginia, are supporting Exercise Northern Edge 2006. The Air Force selected Elmendorf as the home for the next operational F-22 squadron. The base will receive 36 Raptors, with the first jet expected in fall 2007. [USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown]
"Through a concept known as 'Ready Elmendorf,' Alaska's aircraft and pilots will initially operate at Langley Air Force Base and take advantage of the 1st Fighter Wing's F-22 operations and maintenance experience," said Lt. Col. Robert Craven, the chief of PACAF
's F-22 Program Integration Office.
While at Langley, Elmendorf's Raptors will sport the "AK" tail flash. Pilots assigned to PACAF will wear Elmendorf's 90th Fighter Squadron patches; however, they will be fully integrated into Langley's 27th and 94th Fighter Squadrons.
"These aircraft and pilots will operate in nearly every respect as if they were permanently assigned to these squadrons," the colonel said.
Once Elmendorf's F-22s begin the transfer from Langley to their permanent home in Alaska, PACAF pilots will transfer as well. The first F-22s are scheduled to transfer from Langley to Elmendorf by January 2008. Eventually, Elmendorf will stand up two active-duty F-22 squadrons -- the 90th and 525th -- as well as a Reserve associate squadron, the 302nd FS
"The operational experience gained by PACAF's pilots while at Langley along with the expert care for AK Raptors provided by Langley's experienced maintainers will minimize the time required for Elmendorf's squadrons to achieve mission readiness," Colonel Craven said.
"Alaska is an incredibly important strategic location. Bedding this aircraft at Elmendorf will give us the capability to immediately respond to any crisis across the vastness of the Pacific, while still being able to quickly fly over the top to reach Europe and the Middle East," said PACAF commander Gen. Paul V. Hester.
In the future, the Raptor will also be assigned to Hickam AFB
, Hawaii. Two squadrons there, the 199th FS of the Hawaii Air National Guard and the active associate 531st FS, will employ the F-22.