The Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron and the Active Duty’s 19th Fighter Squadron flew a “record-breaking” number of F-22 sorties from JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, last week. Together the Hawaiian Raptors flew 62 sorties with 12 aircraft, surpassing a typical week’s worth of 50 sorties and the previous record of 46 sorties with 14 aircraft, states the release. “Morale seemed to be at an all-time high, with pilots literally grinning from ear to ear,” said 19th FS Commander Lt. Col. Justin Spears. “Spirits seemed equally high on the maintenance side. When I went out to the ramp I was continually asked by every maintainer I saw, ‘What’s the sortie count?’ and ‘How many are we going to get?’” Spears credited the maintainers for quickly turning the jets, fixing broken aircraft, and running hot pit refuels, during which the pilot stays in the running jet while maintainers rapidly refuel, allowing for quick turnaround between sorties. “Our maintainers got 12 aircraft out on the line and got them flying and … then launched another 12 and another 12 and kept it going until we got 62 sorties,” Spears said. “This would not have happened if not for the airmen working on the 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.