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Holloman Airmen hand stealth knowledge to F-22 community

by Senior Airman Terri Barriere
49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office

8/17/2007 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFPN) -- The stealth community wrapped up a high-powered information exchange Aug. 13 to 17 at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

More than 70 49th Fighter Wing operators and maintainers gathered at the 1st Fighter Wing to hand off 25 years of stealth knowledge, as well as stealth integration tactics.

"Holloman's transition to the F-22 (Raptor) is an exciting time, and as part of that we feel obligated to pass on our stealth experience," said Col. Jack Forsythe, the 49th Operations Group commander. "The training will also provide a much needed opportunity for F-117 (Nighthawk) maintainers to interact and see first hand what it takes to work on an F-22 before they arrive in the coming months." 

While pilots and maintainers will both attend the training, the maintainers will definitely benefit the most, said Capt. Jay Bertsch of the 49th Maintenance Group.

"This is more of a take away for maintenance," Captain Bertsch said. "They get right in there with their F-22 counterparts and hear some of the growing pains at all levels from the worker bee up. It gives us a little bit of insight on what's worked and what hasn't."

This training situation is unique, Captain Bertsch said, because on a typical deployment Airmen arrive and set up their own maintenance operations. This time they will integrate right into F-22 operations.

"This is the first time we will really be able to talk full capabilities of both jets at an operational level," said Lt. Col. Todd Flesch, the 8th Fighter Squadron commander.

This training is the third and final combined training between the F-117 and the F-22. Previous combined events were held at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and Nellis AFB, Nev., each with a different focus.

"The F-117 mission is going away. It's being handed off and we need to make sure what we've learned is passed on correctly," Colonel Flesch said. "In the Air Force, when one plane takes over another, we tend to reinvent the wheel. This time, it's a total hand-over of knowledge."

In addition to the knowledge exchange, the combined training will be a chance for the two groups to come together and discuss tactics, planning and debriefing of the stealth war.

"The F-22 is a much more capable fighter than the F-117," Colonel Forsythe said. "But fighting a low-observable platform requires a different mindset. In a sense, we are passing the torch to fellow stealth drivers. The F-22 will fight in its own unique way. We hope to at least pass on what we've learned in terms of fighting a stealth war."

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