Desert Touchdown

Holloman AFB, N.M., received the first two of its 40 planned F-22s on June 2. “It’s a big day. We’re very proud to have the aircraft finally here,” said Lt. Col. Mike Hernandez, commander of Holloman’s 7th Fighter Squadron, who flew in one of the two Raptors. Col. Jeff Harrigian, commander of the base’s 49th Fighter Wing, piloted the second F-22. “I’m really proud of what everyone did to make this happen,” Harrigian said. Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, will hold an official arrival ceremony at the base on Friday (June 6). Holloman is the third of four bases on tap to host combat-ready Raptors under the Air Force’s current 183-aircraft program of record. Already Langley AFB, Va., is home to two fully populated squadrons, and Elemendorf AFB, Alaska, is in the midst of standing up its two units. Hickam AFB, Hawaii, early next decade, will be the last base to receive its Raptors—in this case, just one squadron. The 7th FS is the first Holloman unit that will receive its complement of 20 F-22s. More aircraft are set to arrive at the beginning of 2009 en route to the squadron achieving operational status by November 2009. The yet-to-be-reactivated 8th FS will then receive its 20 F-22s, according to a 49th FW spokeswoman. The 7th FS and 8th FS (as well as a third unit, the 9th FS) formerly operated F-117 stealth strike aircraft from Holloman. The base retired the last of its F-117s in April to make way for the new F-22s. (Includes Holloman report by Amn. Sondra M. Wieseler)