The Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron still expects to receive its first two of 20 new F-22 Raptors beginning in June 2010 and plans to send off the last of its F-15s in September 2010, reports the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The 199th FS will share operation and maintenance duties with the active duty 531st FS at Hickam Air Force Base, but it will be the first—and so far only—F-22 force led by the Air Guard. The airmen of the two units have eyeballed the F-22s that stopped over at Hickam this week on their return from stints in the Pacific—a force from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, to Guam and one from Langley AFB, Va., to Okinawa. In a report by the Honolulu Advertiser, SSgt. Robert Rabacal, an Air Guard F-15 crew chief, said of the 199th’s elderly F-15s, “We’ve tried to keep a lot of pride in them, keeping the aircraft flying as much as possible.” He added the airmen would do the same with the F-22s, saying, “There’s a lot of pride invested when the Hawaii Air National Guard has those jets.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.