Lt. Col Shawn Anger, 7th Fighter Squadron commander and pilot from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., lands the last of 22 F-22 Raptors relocating to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., from Holloman. (Airman 1st Class Sergio Gamboa/Air Force)
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With the arrival of the last four F-22s earlier this month, the Air Force’s newest Raptor squadron is operational, and Tyndall Air Force Base is now home to the largest group of the fifth-generation fighter.
Four F-22s touched down April 8 at the Florida base, completing the transfer of 24 Raptors originally scheduled for early 2013. The flight finished the transfer of the 24 F-22s, seven T-38 Talons and most of the planned contingent of 620 active-duty and 230 Air Force Reserve airmen at the base.
The aircraft came from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., which is receiving two F-16 squadrons and 950 personnel from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., which in turn is receiving new F-35s. The F-16s began arriving at Holloman in early April.
“This marks the end of the entire transfer of 24 jets from Holloman,” said Lt. Col. Shawn Anger, 7th Fighter Squadron commander at Holloman and pilot of the last Raptor to land at Tyndall, in a release. “The process of the transfer took about four months to complete, but it is finally finished. It is certainly a loss for Holloman, but a gain for Tyndall.”
The jets first began arriving at Tyndall in January. The move was delayed a year after Congress failed to pass a fiscal 2013 budget.
As the last jet touched down, the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall was declared initial operational capability ready. The squadron will begin its work with a deployment to participate in Operation Combat Hammer, an air-to-ground Weapons Systems Evaluation Program at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, according to the base. Full operational capability is expected by early fall.
“We have all of our aircraft [in place], but we are still receiving operations and maintenance personnel in addition to a good amount of equipment,” 95th Fighter Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert said in a release. “The most rewarding experience for me has been seeing the hard work everyone is putting in to make the 95th FS and Aircraft Maintenance Units a success.”
Tyndall, previously a home for F-22 training under Air Education and Training Command, transferred to Air Combat Command in preparation for the move last year. Crews at Tyndall renovated three hangars, set up offices for the squadron and revamped the flightline’s heat shields and canopies.■