July 7, 2010 (by TSgt. Betty J. Squatrito-Martin) - Leaders from the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), the 13th Air Force, the 15th Airlift Wing and the Hawaii National Guard gathered on the edge of the Hawaii ANG's 154th Wing fighter ramp to break ground for the new F-22 Raptor Low Observable Composite Repair Facility.
Gen. Gary L North (center), PACAF commander leads Hickam AFB leadership in ground breaking for the F-22 Low Observable Composite Repair Facility. The Hawaii ANG is replacing their F-15 Eagles with the F-22 Raptor. The HIANG is scheduled to receive their first F-22 in July. [USAF photo by MSgt. Kristen Stanley]
The facility will cost more than $23 million and is the first of eight construction projects totaling $144 million that will be built over the next few years to support the F-22 at Hickam. Projected to be completed in October 2011, the facility will provide a secure and environmentally controlled structure in which to maintain and repair the radar evading skin of the F-22.
"This facility will enable an incredible platform to be the best in the world," said Gen. Gary L. North, PACAF
commander. "It will ensure that we can protect our nation's skies and project power into the Pacific and beyond."
Pastor Kelikona Bishau from the Real Life Christian Center performed a Hawaiian-style blessing with Hawaiian salt, water and it leaves before Gen. North and Maj. Gen. Robert G. F. Lee, the state adjutant general, untied a maile lei and leaders from the various military organizations and the contractor ceremonially broke ground.
Su Yong Yi, from Su Mo Builders, Inc., the main contractor, said he was humbled by the importance of this ceremony and construction of this state-of-the-art project. "Working on this is our way of helping the national defense," said Mr. Yi. "This project is going to be very technical. We're going to have to be very diligent. The main thing is safety."
Technical Sergeant Kevin Prielipp, an active duty Airman, was assigned to Hawaii in February from Langley Air Force Base, Va., to assist with the F-22 program here. "I spent four years at Langley working on the Raptors. I can say from experience that maintaining the aircraft is very labor intensive and unique." Prielipp is one of approximately 100 active duty Airmen who will be Total Force integrated with the Hawaii Air National Guard maintaining the F-22's at Hickam.
For Master Sergeant Karl Brueggmann, a member of the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Maintenance Squadron, and the F-22 Program Integration Office, this Friday was a special day. "I had the chance to visit the facilities at Langley and then come back and provide inputs on the design of our building. We helped with the floor design, the shop set up, safety and environmental controls." Brueggmann was also proud of the energy efficiency aspects of the building, including photovoltaic cells on the roof that will provide part of the electricity for the facility.
A total of 20 F-22 Raptors will replace the HIANG's F-15 Eagles at Hickam. A mix of 154th Wing and 15 Airlift Wing pilots and maintainers will fly and maintain those 'fifth generation' aircraft.