A contingent of eight F-22s and some 160 airmen and contractors returned home to JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, from a two-week deployment to Nellis AFB, Nev., for Exercise Red Flag 13-2. This was the first over-water deployment for the Hawaiian Raptors and their first participation in a Red Flag aerial combat training exercise, according to a Feb. 6 Hickam release. “The Hawaiian Raptors made a strong showing at Red Flag,” said Maj. Andrew Fessenden, director for weapons for the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron. The unit operates and maintains 20 F-22s at Hickam together with the Active Duty 19th FS under an association. The 101 Air Guardsmen, 40 Active Duty airmen, and 11 contractors returned to Hickam on Feb. 2, states the release. With the Red Flag under their belt, the two squadrons are now preparing to deploy “in the not-so-distant future” to an area of responsibility as part of a normal rotation of US combat forces, states the release. The Hawaii F-22s are the Air Force’s newest Raptor force, reaching combat readiness after units in Virginia, Alaska, and New Mexico. (Hickam report by SSgt. Terri Barriere)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.