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Deployed F-22s leave Pacific, return to Langley

by Maj. Dani Johnson
18th Wing Public Affairs

5/10/2007 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNEWS) -- After almost three months in the Pacific, 12 F-22A Raptors departed here May 10 having completed the first overseas deployment for the Air Force's newest air supremacy aircraft.

The Raptors and more than 250 Airmen assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., arrived in Kadena Air Base as part of a regularly scheduled U.S. Pacific Command rotational assignment.

"We learned quite a bit about what we need or don't need (when deploying), whether it is parts or people," said Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver, the 27th FS commander. "We plan on capturing these lessons and continue to build the solution to deploying the F-22."

While at Kadena, the squadron flew more than 600 sorties. The sortie generation was better than expected considering the challenges of getting supplies and support from a home base more than 7,700 miles from the deployed location, Colonel Tolliver said.

"We sustained an incredible utilization rate, and it is a true testament to our maintainers and supply Airmen and all the hard work they do," Colonel Tolliver said.

While in the Pacific, the Raptors trained with F-15 Eagles, E-3 Sentry (AWACS), KC-135 Stratotankers from the 18th Wing, and with the Navy, Marine Corps and Japanese Air Self Defense Force.

"Many of these pilots and aircraft had never flown with the F-22," Colonel Tolliver said. "This gave us a chance to expose the F-22 to our sister services and key allies, allowing all of us to learn how to work together better.

"The F-22 is not here to replace any aircraft, but add another capability to the fight," he said.

Another aspect to the deployment was educating both Americans and foreign nationals in the region on the F-22 capabilities. While here, the squadron conducted almost 30 tours and briefings for visiting dignitaries and held three open house tours for more than 4,000 Americans on Okinawa.

All of the Airmen deployed from Langley AFB became part of Team Kadena. Regardless of the fact the requirements for the aircraft were different than many of the units were used to, everyone stepped up professionally, Colonel Tolliver said.

"The 18th Wing is a busy place," he said. "You get a lot done every day and you integrated us into your team without missing a beat, and we appreciate that."

For Kadena, the deployment was also a chance to demonstrate its capability to receive forces and combine dissimilar fighter aircraft into one airpower team.

"This was big for the base," said Col. Mark Henkel, the 18th Operations Group commander. "We were able to bring this aircraft into the theater and get it ready to go while never stopping our ongoing missions. It was simply outstanding."

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