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Mon, Jan 20, 2003

ACC Begins F/A-22 Operations

Air Combat Command entered a new era last week as America's newest fighter-attack aircraft touched down at Nellis AFB. Raptor 00-012, the first F/A-22 to be delivered directly to the command, was flown from Edwards Air Force Base (CA), to Nellis by Lt. Col. David Rose, chief of Nellis' F/A-22 integration office and ACC's first F/A-22 pilot.

The command formally entered the F/A-22 operations realm January 4, when maintainers from the 57th Wing's 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and operators from the 53rd Wing's 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron completed the command's first F/A-22 sortie at Edwards. Rose flew his first F/A-22 sortie in Raptor 00-012 and was launched out for the mission by Tech. Sgt. Greg Auzenne, the dedicated crew chief for the aircraft.

"All objectives were met during the initial 1.3-hour flight," Rose said. "They included aircraft generation by members of Nellis' 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, an in-flight performance evaluation of flying qualities, integrated avionics evaluations, flying at super cruise (flying faster than the speed of sound without afterburner), and simulated air-to-air combat maneuvers by the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron."

Besides the January 14 and January 4 flights, the Nellis F/A-22 team also generated a third sortie with Raptor 00-012 on January 8, where Rose performed more flight evaluations and conducted an in-flight refueling.

"The aircraft has performed outstanding through all our flights and marks a turning point in the effort to integrate the F/A-22 weapons system into the combat force," Rose said.

The Raptor's arrival at Nellis marks another major milestone in the F/A-22 program there. Numerous improvements have been made around the base to prepare for the aircraft's arrival including a new operations area within the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, an F/A-22 parts store, and the addition of a $7.8 million maintenance hangar and a $7.5 million corrosion control/composite repair facility. A new munitions maintenance facility will also be built.

Nellis is also the home of Air Education and Training Command's first F/A-22 maintenance training facility. Detachment 13 of the 372nd Training Squadron here will conduct the initial F/A-22 maintenance training for Nellis maintainers as well as training for maintenance training detachment instructors at Tyndall AFB (FL). Formal training of the Air Force's first F/A-22 flight line maintainers began January 14, and instructors will use Raptor 00-012 to enhance classroom instruction.

To prepare for the new mission, Det. 13 completed an $800,000, 5,000-square-foot expansion of its facility, which includes five fully-automated classrooms, an F-119 engine bay and a fiber optics lab. A full-size F/A-22 forward fuselage seat and canopy trainer will be delivered to the facility next year.

Designed and built by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Pratt and Whitney, 17 of the next-generation stealth fighters will eventually be assigned to Nellis. Besides the first F/A-22 delivered January 14, seven more will arrive through 2004. Airmen from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron will fly the aircraft, and assist in operational testing and the development of the tactics future F/A-22 pilots will use in combat.

Between 2008 and 2009, another nine F/A-22s are scheduled for delivery to Nellis's 57th Wing, and will be flown by pilots and instructors at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. Members of the 57th Wing will maintain all Nellis F/A-22s.

Over the next year, the Air Force's initial cadre of F/A-22 pilots, maintainers, and support personnel will also receive their training at Nellis and in the sky over southern Nevada.
[Thanks to Master Sgt. Charles Ramey, Air Warfare Center Public Affairs --ed.]

FMI: www.af.mil, www.acc.af.mil

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