August 14, 2007 (by SrA Terri Barriere) - A meeting of the minds is taking place at Langley Air Force Base, Aug. 13-17 as the stealth community assembles for a high-powered information exchange.
More than 70 49th Fighter Wing operators and maintainers, along with six F-117As, gathered at the 1st Fighter Wing to hand off 25 years of stealth knowledge, as well as stealth integration tactics during the week long training.
"Holloman's transition to the F-22 is an exciting time, and as part of that we feel obligated to pass on our stealth experience," said Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group commander. "The training will also provide a much needed opportunity for F-117 maintainers to interact and see first hand what it takes to work on an F-22A before they arrive in the coming months."
Capt. Jay Bertsch, 49th Maintenance Group, agreed that while pilots and maintainers will both attend the training, the maintainers will definitely benefit the most.
"This is more of a take away for maintenance," said Capt. Jay Bertsch. "They get right in there with their F-22 counterparts and hear some of the growing pains at all levels from the worker bee up. It gives us a little bit of insight on what's worked and what hasn't."
Captain Bertsch said this training situation is unique because, on a typical deployment, they arrive and set up their own maintenance operations, but this time they will integrate right into F-22 operations.
"This is the first time we will really be able to talk full capabilities of both jets at an operational level," said Lt. Col. Todd Flesch, 8th Fighter Squadron commander.
This training is the third and final combined training between the F-117 and the F-22. Previous combined events were held at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., each with a different focus.
"The F-117 mission is going away, it's being handed off and we need to make sure what we've learned is passed on correctly," said Colonel Flesch.
"In the Air Force, when one plane takes over another, we tend to reinvent the wheel," he said. "This time, it's a total hand-over of knowledge."
In addition to the knowledge exchange, the combined training will be a chance for the two groups to come together and discuss tactics, planning and debriefing of the stealth war.
"The F-22 is a much more capable fighter than the F-117," said Colonel Forsythe. "But fighting a low-observable platform requires a different mind set. In a sense, we are passing the torch to fellow stealth drivers. The F-22 will fight in its own unique way. We hope to at least pass on what we've learned in terms of fighting a stealth war."