More than 150 airmen and 12 F-22s from the 43rd Fighter Squadron at Tyndall AFB, Fla., are at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, through early September for training. The Air Force calls this deployment the first-ever Global Gem exercise. The Raptor pilots are getting the opportunity to fly in airspace and over rugged terrain that starkly contrasts Tyndall’s ocean coastline environment in which they usually operate. “The majority of the flying we do is over the water. Obviously when we go to war, we’re not always flying over water,” said Lt. Col. Bradley Bird, 43rd FS commander. Plus, the F-22s are getting the chance to fly with the F-15s of Mountain Home’s 389th FS. The F-15s are playing the role of adversarial aircraft in some drills and, in others, are partnering with the F-22s to form combined force packages. Tyndall is home to the F-22 schoolhouse. (Mountain Home report by SrA. Alyssa C. Wallace)
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.