02/23/2014: Final F-22 Sorties at Holloman AFB
by Senior Airman Colin Cates
49th Wing Public Affairs
1/10/2014 – HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M
Off they go into the wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sun, the first five F-22 Raptors left Holloman for Tyndall Air Force Base Fla., Jan. 6, as part of the base’s transition from F-22 operations to F-16 Fighting Falcon training.
“Today is the culmination of about two-and-half years of Air Force planning to move the F-22 Raptors from the 7th Fighter Squadron to the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall AFB, Fla., where they will join the 43rd Fighter Squadron in the 325th Fighter Wing.” said Lt. Col. Shawn Anger, 7th Fighter Squadron commander.
The five F-22s that left Jan. 6 will be followed by six Raptors leaving each month until the move is completed in April.
“By spreading out the move of the F-22s to Tyndall, it allows for an easier transition for the maintenance and other pertinent personnel involved in the move,” said Anger.
“This has been overdue and an exciting experience for the folks at Tyndall and probably a little sentimental for the folks here at Holloman,” said Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert, 95th Fighter Squadron commander.
As part of the F-22 fleet consolidation, the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force determined the most effective basing for the these aircraft.
“The Air Force realized that it is not cost effective to have a single fighter squadron at a base,” said Anger. “Since Tyndall had the necessary infrastructure already in place it just made sense to combine the two there.”
“From the outgoing commander standpoint, it is a bittersweet experience. The actual physical move of these jets really solidifies the stand-down of the 7th Fighter Squadron,” said Anger. “The squadron inactivation should happen sometime in April.”
“Standing up a combat mission at Tyndall is a wonderful thing, not just for the base but for the local community as well. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us at Tyndall, and we are very excited about the move,” added Gilbert.
The final F-22 Raptors are scheduled to leave mid-April, and the first F-16 Fighting Falcons should start arriving from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. in early April.
“The F-16s will be attached to the 311th and the 314th Fighter Squadrons. They will be a detachment unit from Luke, said Anger. “These squadrons will be tenant units which fall under Air Education and Training Command.”
“This entire transition of the F-22s leaving to Tyndall and F-16s coming to Holloman is a major realignment of the fighter force, and what that does is really open up room at Luke for the F-35 Lightning to make a home there,” said Anger.
The transfer of aircraft and people will bring challenges, but base leadership is confident the 49th Wing will overcome these challenges thanks to members of Team Holloman and the local community.
“I feel that today really represents years of planning and progression by the Air Force by actually moving these aircraft to Tyndall,” said Gilbert. “When we land and the media is there to document this occasion, the public will see and start believing that this move is finally happening.”
“The departure of the first F-22s is a visible indicator of a significant mission shift at this installation,” said Col. Andrew Croft, 49th Wing commander.
“Despite these changes, Holloman remains one of the most relevant assets in our national security portfolio, from preparing our Remotely Piloted Aircraft warfighters for immediate combat action, to hosting testing of the Air Force’s newest technologies, to maintaining 11,000 tons of worldwide-deployable airfield assets to sustain combat operations, to training pilots in the combat-proven F-16 Falcon, which will begin arriving here in April.”
“As we transition from F-22 operations to F-16 training this year, we’ll continue to train and deploy personnel, and we’ll remain committed to caring for our Airmen and families as they leave or arrive at Holloman.”
Video credit: Holloman AFB, 2/20/14