Hawaii Air National Guard Upgrading To F-22 Raptors
Pilots from the 199th Fighter Squadron, Hawaii Air National
Guard, completed their last training mission with the F-15 Eagle
from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii August 25.
The HIANG is upgrading to the F-22 Raptor, a fifth generation
fighter, and received their first two Raptors in July.
The ANG is the lead in a total force concept that already exists
at JB Hickam with the C-17 Globemaster III. The 199th FS will fly
and help maintain the 20 F-22 Raptors that bring another capability
to the HIANG. Many of the current F-15 pilots of the HIANG are
eager to start training and flying the Raptor, but will still
sorely miss the Eagle aircraft, which the unit has flown since
1987, said Lt. Col. James Sage, a pilot with the 199th FS. "It's
like saying goodbye to a good friend," said Colonel Sage said. "It
was exciting flying it for the last time, and especially against a
F-22, but at the same time the F-15 has always brought me home
safely and been an outstanding aircraft."
The three remaining F-15s will depart JB Hickam September. 1,
and with that, two of the fighters will move onto the 56th
Aggressors Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., while the other will move
onto the 120th Fighter Wing of the Montana Air National Guard. The
Montana unit has assumed the HIANG's air-defense mission for the
next year as the HIANG transitions to the F-22 said 199th pilot Lt.
Col. Mark Ladtkow. "It's somewhat a bittersweet feeling flying the
last training mission of the F-15 with our unit," Colonel Ladtkow
said. "I'm blessed to have the upcoming opportunity to fly the
F-22, but the F-15, which I've flown for 17 years, is a friend of
mine and will be missed."
F-22 Raptors File Photo
Colonel Ladtkow is a 20-year veteran of the military, with the
last six being part of the ANG. He is slated to deliver his jet to
the Montana ANG in September. "The 199th (FS) proves that National
Guard forces are capable of maintaining a strategic presence with
its active-duty association and providing a great value to our
nation and the state of Hawaii," said Gen. Craig R. McKinley the
chief of the National Guard Bureau.
The F-22, a single-seat, twin-engine aircraft, which utilizes
stealth technology, was originally designed as an air-superiority
fighter. "These F-22 Raptors are the state-of-the-art,
air-superiority fighters, and couldn't be located at a better
place," said General McKinley.