The 27th Fighter Squadron at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., has commenced initial operations with its T-38 adversary aircraft. “Our whole mission requires us to train against the Raptor,” Col. Derek Wyler, 27th FS director of T-38 operations, told the Daily Report in a recent interview at the joint base. Squadron officials could not complete mission qualification of the pilots who will fly the T-38s in training drills against the 1st Fighter Wing’s F-22s until after the Air Force leadership lifted the fleet-wide F-22 grounding in late September, said Wyler. That’s because “there was no one for them to train against,” he explained. Air Combat Command established the T-38 Adversary Air Program to provide the wing’s Raptors with cost-effective air-to-air training. “You essentially get more training at a much lower cost,” since “you don’t have to have . . . F-22s replicating bad guys,” explained Col. Kevin Robbins, 1st FW commander, in an interview. There are seven T-38s assigned to the wing, with a possibility of expanding to 14 airframes in Fiscal 2013, said Robbins. The 325th FW at Tyndall AFB, Fla., is also receiving T-38s for enhanced combat training. (See also Raptor Versus Talon.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.