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Budget cuts have forced two fighter squadrons to trade jets during deployments from Virginia to Japan.
The 27th Expeditionary Fighting Squadron from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., recently deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, to take over for the 94th Fighter Squadron, also from Langley. But to save money, the 94th left their F-22s at Kadena.
That means the 27th pilots are flying Raptors with the 94th Fighter Squadron tail codes and pilot names over Japan, sort of the Air Force’s version of hot-racking.
After returning from their deployment on May 29, the 94th was stood down, so aircrew are using simulators while the 27th’s jets stay dormant on the flight line. Earlier this year, Air Combat Command directed 17 combat-coded squadrons to stand down, with more squadrons flying at reduced rates, as a way to save money under sequestration.
By leaving the 12 jets at Kadena, the Air Force was able to cut costs of flying the jets across the Pacific and the accompanying airlift that is necessary. The move is expected to produce “substantial” savings, but it’s too early to say exactly how much, Langley spokesman Michael Martin said.
F-22s have been deployed to Japan on a six-month rotation as part of a “theater security package” in the Pacific. In April, the Air Force sent F-22s to South Korea as a non-flying show of force to North Korea during an exercise.