F-22 Raptors ‘fly high’ in first Red Flag deployment

A total force team comprised of F-22 Raptors, active duty and Hawaii Air National Guard personnel successfully completed the Hawaiian Raptors first over-water deployment when they returned Feb. 2 from Red Flag 13-2 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

“To the Hawaiian Raptors, this Red Flag deployment had significant meaning,” said Lt. Col. Mark Ladtkow, 199th Fighter Squadron (FS) commander. “This was the first full-scale deployment from the state of Hawaii in the F-22 Raptor. It was a true testament to our total force initiative (TFI) as well as our maintenance, operations and support personnel.”

Ladtkow said the mission substantiated the crew’s ability to mobilize, generate and deploy eight F-22s with their associated equipment and personnel. The F-22s were employed in highly complex day and night operations in nearly all of their mission sets and demonstrated the ability to redeploy and reconstitute within the allotted time and fiscal constraints.

Red Flag, the largest full-scale exercise that depicts wartime conditions, provided the perfect opportunity for the Hawaii Raptors to validate their training programs, unit employment capability and overall combat capability.

“We have been working relentlessly over the past two years on our conversion from the F-15 to the F-22,” Ladtkow said. “We have worked hard to make our TFI team one to be emulated throughout the Air Force.”

In order to prepare for the two-week-long Red Flag exercise, Ladtkow said the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons worked continuously, both as individual entities and as a team. There were 40 active duty Airmen, 101 Air National Guard Airmen and 11 contractors that came together to make Red Flag 13-2 a success.

According to Ladtkow, the years of preparation and sending his folks to attend other exercises, while continuing to hone their skills in the Air Combat Simulator, paid off. The Hawaii Raptors were the only unit at Red Flag 13-2 to not lose a single sortie to maintenance or support issues.

Ladtkow said this proves they are ready to deploy and fight when called upon.

Now officially past the “crawl, walk phase” of preparing the Hawaii Raptors to be combat ready, the team plans to lean on lessons learned at Red Flag and training to take them into the next phase -getting ready to deploy.

“The Hawaiian Raptors made a strong showing at Red Flag,” said Maj. Andrew Fessenden, 199 FS director of weapons. “It’s quite an accomplishment to orchestrate each mission with more than 90 aircraft, over a dozen airframes and five different countries.”

“While we had our fair share of learning points, there’s some satisfaction in knowing that with those lessons learned, we are able to assemble a very formidable and lethal joint force product at the end of the day,” he said.

After successfully completing Red Flag 13-2, the Hawaii Raptors are on the fast track for real world deployments to the area of responsibility in the not-so-distant future.

Red Flag 1 3 – 2 superior performers included Capt. Robert Ice, 19th Fighter Squadron; Capt. Marvin Wong, 199th Fighter Squadron (FS); Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Lopez, Tech Sgt. Mark Gorospe and Tech. Sgt. Scott Haitsuka, all of 154th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS); Tech. Sgt. Peter /Gozontagalog and Staff Sgt. James Lee, both of 154th Maintenance Squadron (MXS); Tech. Sgt. Scott Kamalii, 154th Maintenance Operations Flight; Tech. Sgt. Sonja Kahawaii, 154th Logistics Readiness Squadron; Staff Sgt. Greg Myers, 154th Maintenance Group; Staff Sgt. Logan Stelle, 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron; Senior Airman Sean Lum, 154th Wing; and Senior Airman Edward Siaosi, 199 FS.

Master Sgt. Carlos Diaz, 154th Operations Support Squadron received an honorable mention.

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