March 02, 2006
Hickam may get F-22A fighters
By William Cole
The Air Force wants to base 18 of its most advanced weapons — the stealthy F-22A Raptor fighter — at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
The basing, with no time line as of yet, would represent about one-tenth of the 183 Raptors being built through 2012, and is yet another example of Hickam’s return to prominence as a staging point for military missions in the Pacific.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Virginia, said the F-22 is the Air Force’s most prized asset.
“The fact that they are putting it in Hawaii underscores how valuable they think Hickam is as an operating base,” Thompson said.
The plan comes as eight C-17 Globemaster IIIs, the Air Force’s latest-generation cargo carriers, are being based at Hickam, and the Navy announced additional nuclear attack submarines will be moved from the Atlantic to the Pacific to counter a corresponding shift in global threats.
“What the movement of the submarines and the movement of the F-22s tells us is Hawaii is right dead center in the middle of military action for this millennium,” Thompson said.
Hickam was an airlift hub from World War II through the Vietnam War with C-47 Skytrain and C-54 Skymaster aircraft, among others, but for the last 30 years had primarily a mid-Pacific refueling mission on the active-duty side.
The Raptors would replace the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 18 mid- to late-1970s vintage F-15A and B Eagle fighters. Fifteen of the jets are operational and three are spares, officials said.
The Raptors would be flown in partnership between the active-duty Air Force and the Air Guard, a model used for the newly arriving C-17s and a relatively recent approach favored by the Air Force to save money.
Air Force chief of staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said in a release yesterday that the “preferred alternatives” for the third and fourth F-22 bases are Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and Hickam.
The aircraft were certified for operational use at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia in December. Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska was selected as the second site for F-22s.
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, said the Hickam basing is contingent on environmental studies under the National Environmental Policy Act.
“Air Force officials have made it clear to me that they definitely favor Hickam as an operational base for this new generation of high-tech jet fighters,” Inouye said in a statement.
Fast and stealthy
The F-22A’s twin engines produce more thrust than any current fighter, and in combination with a sleek profile, allow it to cruise at supersonic speeds without afterburners.
The aircraft, which has a stealthy shape that makes it hard to spot on radar, can carry two 1,000-pound bombs internally for ground attack, and eight missiles for air-to-air missions.
Moseley, testifying yesterday before the House Armed Services Committee, said the F-22 “is performing magnificently.”
“We’ve got it in initial operational capability at Langley. We’ve flown it in Operation Noble Eagle missions over the capital and over the East Coast,” Moseley said. “We’ve deployed it a couple of times. We have a big deployment plan in the spring to take it out of the (continental U.S.). The airplane’s doing everything we ask it to do.”
Lockheed Martin, which produces both the F-22 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, said the Raptor is faster to the fight, two times more reliable and more than three times more effective than the F-15 it replaces.
It’s also one of the most expensive fighters ever, each costing $135 million compared with about $80 million for the F/A-18 Super Hornet flown by the Navy and Marines.
Thompson said Air Force strategy for Hickam would mean moving the F-22s to a forward operating base in the event of war. It also calls for development of a next-generation tanker that would give the fighters the range they need for a deep strike against countries such as China or North Korea.
Guam, 3,000 miles west of Hawaii and closer to Asia, has seen the basing of three attack submarines and bomber rotations but is not part of the F-22 basing plan announced yesterday.
“The simple reality is that the infrastructure in Hawaii is so much more sophisticated than you find in Guam,” Thompson said. “ ... You would not wage a war with F-22s from Hawaii, but having them stationed there gets them halfway to the war zone.”
Gen Paul Hester, commander of Pacific Air Forces or PACAF, was excited about the new fighters.
“We’ll be better poised to provide more airpower options to U.S. Pacific Command, and make sure we continue to increase our effectiveness within the Pacific region,” Hester said.
“Hawaii finds itself at one corner of a ‘strategic triangle’ in the Pacific, along with Guam and Alaska,” he said. “Having F-22s assigned to PACAF supports the view that having strong presence within the triangle is the right way to do what needs to be done.”
Maj. Chuck Anthony, a spokesman for the Hawaii National Guard, said the F-22 partnership may or may not be the same between the active-duty Air Force and Air Guard for the operation of the C-17s, which has a 60 percent active component and 40 percent Air Guard makeup.
“We already have the Guard people here in terms of (F-15) pilots and maintenance personnel. But we have no idea what the mix will be,” he said.
What facilities the new aircraft would need also is unclear. A single F-15 hangar usually houses up to four aircraft, but most are parked on the ramp, Anthony said.
The F-15s have a Hawaii air defense mission, but were deployed to Iraq to patrol the southern no-fly zone in 2000 and patrolled the skies above Honolulu after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
On The Cutting Edge
Steven Diamond, historian for Pacific Air Forces, said the Hawaii Air Guard has flown a succession of fighters since World War II, starting with P-47 Thunderbolts in 1947.
The list also has included the F-86, F-102, F-4, and from 1987 on, the F-15A and B model Eagles.
“It’s quite amazing to have (C-17) airlifters and front-line fighters (F-22s expected) right here at the same base,” Diamond said. “ ... We’ll have both cutting-edge airlifters and the cutting-edge fighter in the Air Force inventory.”
So what happened to our bases in Okinawa and on Honshu? They cant be as backwards as on Guam- most of them share facilities with JASDF... wouldnt they be even better places to watch China from?
And be putting a 1/10 of the force of essentially irereplaceable warplanes within the striking range of Chinese and North Korean theater balistic missiles, or even Chinas joke of a navy.
Um, they are far from irreplaceable, and if you think we are only going to get 180 of them you are dreaming.
Just like how we eventually got all of the F-15s we originally planned for back in the 70s- once you count up the total of the A/B, C/D, and E production runs the total reaches close to the number of As originally planned in the 1970s. They will get their 360 F-22s eventually.
And there is the matter of the CV- soon to be CVN- and associated battle group still based in Japan. Where are those missiles where IT is concerned?
And I quote:
"Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, said the Hickam basing is contingent on environmental studies under the National Environmental Policy Act."
I can save the USAF and all of my fellow taxpayers a heck of a lot of money here...
Our environment is one in which a lot of bad people in the world want to kill us and all of our children. The airplanes need to be based at this decades old Air Foce Base so that they can protect us from the bad people in the world.
For christsakes, this environmental bullshit is going to cripple the United States of America, if it hasn't already.
Politics as usual. Giving these planes to HANG is a political move by Inoye or however you spell his name. Also, all the deskbound fighter jocks including PACAF CC at HQ PACAF will now have new toys to get their monthly flight pay in.
Guam has plenty of UNUSED infrastructure and with only 183 of these things being purchased they would be better put in active duty units hands instead of NG units.
Plus if you want to get the planes closer to the future point of use, basing them in Alaska, Japan, Korea or Okinawa would be even better than Hawaii.
Better yet...reopen CCK and put a big wing of them in Taiwan
CVN battlegroups have organic air defense, in the form of Aegies which with the new generation of block IV standard missiles can intercept theater ballistic missiles, as well as being protected by CIWS against cruise missile threats.
As far as I know (I could be wrong) our Pacific AFBs aren't ringed with Patriot batteries.
Osan did when I was there. They also had ADA provided by ROKA units.
Plus, they also had a couple of stinger teams roaming the base at any one time.
Matter of fact, all of the bases in Korea had some kind of ROKA ADA around them since technically they were ROKAF bases and not USAF bases. I remember the quad .50's and 20mm around the K-2 flightline when I was staioned there. Pretty cool.
The article never said the HANG was going to get the Raptors, just the the Raptors would take up space originally taken up by HANG jets. I don't think the AF would give away 18 shiny new jets, no matter what the politics are.
That said, I want to eventually fly F-22's and sure as shit wouldnt mind doing it from HI.
Well if HANG F-15s are going away to make space for F-22s, what is HANG going to fly? NOT. I guess Inoye decided to let the AF disband that HANG FS???? NOT again.
Actually, if I remember the figher modernization plan correctly a significant percentage of the national guards F-15s are going to go into depot level overhaul and get new avionics, the new AESA radars, and prehaps new engines if the budget allows for it.
Virginia Guard unit begins integrating with fighter wing
by 2nd Lt. Rachel Sherburne
1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/3/2006 -- LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- He wears a battle
dress uniform and looks just like any other maintainer working on a F-22
Raptor, but this Airman is very different from most others in the 27th
Aircraft Maintenance Unit here.
He is paid by the hour, reports to a different supervisor, and has a
70-mile commute to and from Richmond to come to work every day.
His name is Tech. Sgt. Scott Browning. He and 60 other members of the
192nd Fighter Wing, Virginia Air National Guard work here as pilots,
maintainers, fire rescuers, services, and command post personnel.
"The 1st Fighter Wing and the 192nd Fighter Wing are integrating as an
associate wing where both maintain separate administrative command but
share aircraft and equipment and work functionally together to
accomplish the same mission," said Maj. Pat DeConcini.
The 192nd retains separate administrative control of its own personnel,
which allows the unit the discretion of hiring, firing, promotion,
discipline, pay, and leave. Integrating functionally with the 1st
Fighter Wing means working together they will get the job done.
"We are all working together -- one force, one fight," said Tech. Sgt.
"Our active-duty supervisors are more than willing to work with our crew
and accommodate our needs. We also return the favor by following Air
Force core values and sharing our experience as prior service members
with our active-duty coworkers to get the job done," he said.
The integration is at the top of the agenda for senior leaders.
"The future total force must not only be adaptable to today's fight, but
also tomorrow's fight and equally adaptable to unknown applications. It
must be seamless among the active duty, Guard and Reserve components,"
said Gen. T. Michael Mosely, Air Force chief of staff.
The goal of the total force concept is to increase combat capability by
capitalizing on the inherent strengths of the active duty, Air National
Guard and Air Force Reserve.
The benefits of integration include:
Increased combat capability
"Our integration combines experienced and dedicated Air National Guard
manpower with our nation's premier active-duty fighter wing to provide
unparalleled combat capability to the combatant commander," said Lt.
Col. Jim Cox, operations liaison for Detachment 3 of the 192nd FW.
Along with years of experience, guardsmen often bring a wealth of
knowledge as well.
Honed training and skills
Sergeant Browning will be at Langley another 15 years. His experience
will be a great benefit when he helps train the hundreds of Airmen who
will cycle in and out of Langley during that time.
"Adding our experience to a highly-motivated force [the 1st Fighter
Wing], who just may not have a lot of 'wrench time', is invaluable,"
said Sergeant Browning.
"The same can be said about the pilots," said Colonel Cox, who added
there are generally a lot of young pilots and not enough instructors on
active duty, but this integration will add Guard pilots who are all
Combat capability at a significantly reduced price is what the Air
National Guard represents to the American taxpayer.
Most traditional guardsmen, who make up about 70 percent of the 192nd
FW, have "regular" civilian jobs. They fulfill their military duties by
training one weekend each month and two weeks each year.
But the Air Force doesn't have to provide guardsmen with the same
benefits or retirement as active-duty Airmen. Many guardsmen served on
active duty, but elected to pursue continued military service in the
reserve component. The National Guard allows the Air Force to retain its
most vital assets -- highly trained people.
"Integrating saves you all the money and time it takes to produce an
Airman with that same training and experience level," said Major
DeConcini, who added that it costs much more money to train a brand new
Airman than it does to retain one who has already been trained.
Reduced operations tempo for 1st FW Airmen
More bodies to fill jobs means more people to help do the job. The
guardsmen who integrate will also be able to fill deployment spots and
help take the strain off of the squadrons and decrease personnel
"I deployed to Hill Air Force Base [Utah] and will go to Elmendorf [AFB,
Alaska] this summer as well," Sergeant Browning said. "I stand ready and
willing for any deployment and I think all guardsmen have that
Increased benefits and opportunity for 192nd guardsmen
Those from Richmond are excited about having easy access to the
facilities of a military base, but as guardsmen, they are also excited
about working on the newest fighter in the Air Force inventory,
something they have never done before.
This is the first time in history that the Guard has been equal partners
from the beginning as we transition into a new weapons system, said then
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper.
"We've always envisioned flying and maintaining the newest and best
fighter aircraft, and here we are," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael
Bouley, 192nd FW propulsion flight chief.
When the nearly 1000 Richmond guardsmen are fully integrated, Langley
AFB will also be the home of the 192nd Fighter Wing.
The transformation started one year ago and will continue for another
three years, as full integration is expected by September 2009.
I seem to recall that most systems on USN vessels are turned off when dockside...