The Raptors are leaving
the nest for their first deployment.
Nearly 170 Airmen left Langley AFB Oct. 15 on a two-week
deployment to Hill Air Force Base, Utah. This may sound like a
run-of-the-mill temporary duty assignment. But for the Langley
Airmen, it is far from a typical out-of-town operation.
It is the maiden deployment for the new F/A-22 aircraft.
Airmen from the 27th Fighter Squadron and other base units went
to Hill with two significant goals on their to-do list: complete
the first Raptor deployment and generate a combat-effective sortie
rate away from home.
“We are eager to take this airplane on the road and
practice our overall abilities with it,” said Lt. Col. Jim
Hecker, the squadron commander. “It’s an important
training opportunity for our Raptor team, but it’s also an
event steeped in historic value.”
The trip provides practice demonstrating competence and ability
to deploy to a foreign location. Though Salt Lake City clearly is
not as unfamiliar as an overseas desert, it still provides an
appropriate training ground for both maintainers and pilots.
“This will be our opportunity to validate sortie
generation and hone our capabilities as a war-ready
squadron,” said Capt. James Jernigan, 27th Aircraft
Maintenance Unit chief.
The deployment also marks the first time an air-to-ground mission
returns to the 1st Fighter Wing since the late 1970s.
“World War II was the last time any planes or pilots from
Langley bombed anything in a wartime scenario,” said Tech.
Sgt. John Deshetler, wing historian. “During training attack
missions in the 1970s, pilots here practiced dropping bombs, but it
never developed into a wartime mission.”
At a predeployment briefing, the squadron project officer
offered a quick reality check for some of the team who might be
nervous about accomplishing the task at hand.
“Don’t forget, you were all hand picked to be
here,” said Maj. Charles Corcoran, the squadron assistant
director of operations. “This is our show, and this is our
chance to prove to everyone from the bottom on up that we are ready
to go to combat.”
Colonel Hecker echoed those sentiments, and added a
“We’re all fortunate to be in the right place at the
right time to contribute to this effort,” he said. “But
I want each person to remember those who’ve worked on this
before us and be humble about the fact that we get to be
In fact, this is a mission more than 25 years in the making.
“Thousands of people have spent thousands of hours
preparing this aircraft for mission-ready status,” Colonel
Hecker said. “Our job now is to use this training opportunity
to the fullest and continue on the path to bringing this
air-dominance vision to fruition.” [ANN Salutes 1st Lt.
Elizabeth Kreft, 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs]