News>Raptors usher in new era for Air Force Reserve
A crew chief marshals an F-22 Raptor into place at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, during a ceremony marking the aircraft's arrival Aug. 8. Six F-22s took part in the ceremony, with the base scheduled to receive 34 additional aircraft. Elmendorf should have its full complement of 40 aircraft by December 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)
Six F-22 Raptors taxi following touchdown at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, during a ceremony marking the aircraft's arrival Aug. 8. The F-22s will join the active duty 3rd Wing and Air Force Reserve Command's 477th Fighter Group here. The 477th FG becomes the first Air Force Reserve unit to operate and maintain the F-22. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)
Air Force Reservists Staff Sgt. Derek Welch and Senior Airman Temujin Ching 477th Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs prepare to recieve one of six F-22s to Elmendorf AFB. The Raptor is piloted by Air Force Reserve command pilot Maj. Brian Silkey who flew the aircraft in from Langley AFB, Va. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance C. Babin)
Senior Airman Temujin Ching, 477th Maintenance Squadron crew chief shows Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, Air Force Reserve Command commander some of the new technology used on the F-22 Raptor following arrival ceremonies at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance C. Babin)
by Master Sgt. Chance C. Babin
Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs
8/10/2007 - ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- When six F-22 Raptors arrived here Aug. 8 from Langley AFB, Va., they brought a new day for the Air Force Reserve Command.
The command's 477th Fighter Group will associate with the 3rd Wing, becoming the first Air Force Reserve unit to maintain and fly the F-22 Raptor. The group will be comprised of the 302nd Fighter Squadron, 477th Maintenance Squadron and 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
"Today is the beginning of a new chapter in the Air Force Reserve, flying the newest fighter in the Air Force and teaming up with the first Reserve F-22 permanent-basing in Pacific Air Forces. This is a chance for the Reserve to be relevant in the fighter world for the next 50 years," said Col. Eric Overturf, 477th FG commander.
To be involved with the F-22 so early is something Lt. General John A. Bradley, chief of the Air Force Reserve, said he would have never imagined three years ago.
"It is brand new and exciting to have the Reserve invited to participate in this mission with Pacific Air Forces. It's gratifying," said General Bradley.
He believes Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, and Gen. Paul V. Hester, PACAF commander, asked the Air Force Reserve to be a part of the F-22 mission in Alaska because the command's 76,000 Citizen Airmen have done so well in supporting the Air Force in the last few years.
"They (the generals) know that we have been an important part of the Air Force," he said. "We're deploying, we're doing our Air Expeditionary Force business right beside them, and we've done it well."
The men and women of the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf are gaining a longtime partner with the new Reserve associate unit.
"Airmen here at Elmendorf are no strangers to new aircraft or missions," said Col. Thomas Tinsley, 3rd Wing commander. "The major difference here this time is we are teamed with our unrivaled wingmen, the Reserve. These professional Airmen will be integrated in every part of the F-22 operations and bring total force integration to a new level."
Colonel Overturf says it's an honor to be the 477th FG's first commander.
"The proud Airmen of the 3rd Wing and 477th Fighter Group team are one Air Force sharing the same fight," Colonel Overturf said. "That means that when you walk the flightline at Elmendorf you will not differentiate reservists and Regular Air Force Airmen. You will witness a Total Force team, seamlessly integrated and working together to build the best air supremacy wing in the world."
The 477th FG will officially stand up Oct. 1. Today it has an initial cadre of about 25 people and will add about 100 people in the next year or two. The group will eventually build to about 425 part-time and full-time reservists by 2010.
General Bradley said getting on board with the F-22 mission was his top priority as chief of Air Force Reserve.
"This is the biggest deal in my term as Chief of the Air Force Reserve," General Bradley said.
"We do a lot of important things for our Air Force," he said. "I hate to pick and choose. Everything we do is important. Every Airman we have is important. Every mission we do is important. But this is really going to be a high visibility mission."
In addition to Alaska, the Air Reserve Force will have F-22 pilots at Tyndall AFB, Fla. They will serve with Regular Air Force and Air National Guard pilots as instructors on the new fighter aircraft.
The 477th Fighter Group and the 302nd Fighter Squadron bring the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen to the much decorated history of the 3rd Wing.
Colonel Overturf said he feels privileged to start the unit because the Tuskegee Airmen were a group of men who only wanted to serve their country.
"We're going to try to take that same spirit within the 477th FG that we'll carry over from what the Tuskegee Airmen did back inWorld War II," he said. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)