Capt. Michael Blake looks out of his F-15 Eagle on approach to the island of Oahu, Hawaii, on July 16. He was flying a mission in support of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2006. The captain is a pilot with the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

The 199th Fighter Squadron is stationed at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. The 199th received their first F-15A/B’s in 1987 replacing the F-4C’s. In 1991 the 199th FS transitioned from the F-15A/B to the F-15C/D models. The “hangman” replaced their F-15’s in 2010 with the F-22 Raptor and completed the transition in 2012.

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76-052 deployed at Homestead AFB, FL (U.S. Air Force photo)

76-052 deployed at Homestead AFB, FL (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Michael Blake looks out of his F-15 Eagle on approach to the island of Oahu, Hawaii, on July 16. He was flying a mission in support of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2006. The captain is a pilot with the Hawaii Air National Guard's 199th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Capt. Michael Blake looks out of his F-15 Eagle on approach to the island of Oahu, Hawaii, on July 16. He was flying a mission in support of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2006. The captain is a pilot with the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Eagles soar for last time at Hickam
by Tech Sgt. Cohen A. Young

8/27/2010 – JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR – HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) — 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 Aug 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 Sept. 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.”

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.

HIANG newest Guard Wing to fly F-22 Raptor

by Tech. Sgt. Michelle Thomas
154th Wing

7/9/2010 – JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, HI  — The Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing welcomed the first of its new inventory of F-22’s here today during a ceremony at 9 a.m.

Two of the twenty jets that will eventually make up its war-fighting cadre rolled onto the tarmac and were greeted by a mixed audience of Guardsman, Active Duty, and government dignitaries, to include Governor Linda Lingle and Senator Daniel Inouye.

Following a traditional Hawaiian blessing of Hawaiian water and ti leaves by Kahu Kordell Kekoa, Governor Linda Lingle spoke of the significance of the arrival.

“The arrival of the F-22 represents the “unique relationship between us (the state of Hawaii) and the United States Air Force,” said Lingle.

“The F-22s will come under the Hawaii Air National Guard in partnership with the active duty” and the arrival today is “a testament to America’s technological capabilities,” said Lingle, referring to the Total Force initiative of combining active duty and reserve forces.

The HIANG is now the second Air National Guard unit to fly the Raptor, with more units slated to convert to the operationally superior aircraft during the next several years.

The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions providing a diverse aerial combat capability. The two jets today are jets previously flown at Tyndall Air Force Base; the remaining 18 aircraft will come from Langley Air Force Base,Va.

The F-22 Raptors replace the F-15 Eagles that the 154th’s flying unit, the 199th Fighter Squadron, has flown since 1987. The F-22 is designed to counter lethal threats posed by advanced surface-to-air missile systems and next-generation fighters equipped with launch-and-leave missile capability.

Its predecessor, the F-15, entered the Air Force inventory in 1975 and there is now parity between the F-15 and potentially hostile foreign air superiority aircraft. The F-22 provides the U.S. Air Force air dominance for the 21st century, with a “first-look, first-shot, first-kill” capability. The Raptor can see the enemy first.

Pilots from the 199th Fighter Squadron are now in the process of getting “trained up” for the conversion. Both fulltime and traditional pilots will go through a four-month long transition course (also known as a TX course) for experienced pilots transferring from other fighter aircraft types.

“All of our pilots will go through the school at Tyndall Air Force Base (in Florida),” said Lt. Col. James Sage, HIANG fighter pilot and action officer for the conversion. “Two have finished and hopefully by the end of 2012, the majority of our guys should have completed the training.

Once all of the planes arrive, the aircraft will be piloted by both an active duty unit and by the Guard.

“Seventy-five percent of the mission will be manned by the 154th with the other 25 percent being covered by the active duty personnel,” added Sage.

An active duty detachment squadron, the 19th Fighter Squadron, will complement the new flying configuration.

Sage, the action officer for the conversion, noted that there are several benefits of having a unit fly the superior aircraft in what might be considered a remote location.

“We are a day closer to the fight,” said Sage. “Logistically, we are a stopping off point for other F-22 units so we would be able to support any training and aircraft ‘housing’ requirements.”

The conversion to the F-22 comes a year after legislation was signed stopping future procurement of the modern war-fighting machine. A final inventory of 187 jets will be dispersed, with the Guard gaining some of the final assets.

“It’s an exciting time surely for Team Hickam,” said Gen. Craig McKinley, Chief, National Guard Bureau. The arrival of the F-22 “speaks volumes for the importance of Hawaii’s geographic and strategic position in our nation’s defense.”

McKinley also added that the arrival “marks the first time an Air National Guard unit, the 199th Fighter Squadron, has taken the position of lead squadron in an associate flying unit.

Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt advocated the purchase of F-22 fighters to secure the Guard’s homeland defense mission in the future. According to statements made by Wyatt in 2009, the ANG is facing a serious risk of becoming unable to fulfill the Nations highest strategic priority: defending the Homeland.

According to senior leaders like Wyatt, fifth generation fighters like the F-22 and the F-35 are key elements of our Nation’s defense. “As long as hostile nations recognize that U.S. airpower can strike their vital centers with impunity, all other U.S. Government
efforts are enhanced, which reduces the need for military confrontation, while avoiding detection.” Using a combination of stealth, advanced maneuverability and integrated avionics, the F-22A can counter and defeat threats that will attempt to deny access to friendly forces.

Both government and military officials from Hawaii advocated for the state to be next on the list of Air Guard units to convert to the F-22.

Hawaii’s Senator Daniel Inouye, whose work was instrumental in bringing the F-22 to Hawaii, said, “The presence of the F-22 demonstrates the importance of this area in the Pacific Command.”

“The F-22 will be the major instrument of deterrence in this part of the world,” said Senator Inouye. “I think that Hawaii’s selection demonstrates that we are fully capable of doing the mission.”


Flying Down Under with the RAAF

10/4/2008 – WILLIAMTOWN, Australia — The 199th Fighter Squadron marked the beginning of the end of the F-15 era with a recent deployment to Australia in support of Exercise Sentry Down Under Sept. 3-22.
Sentry Down Under, a joint exercise between the HIANG and the Australian Air Force, gave more than 100 HIANG members an opportunity to train in unfamiliar surroundings and to support Australian Air Force’s Weapons Officer’s course.
“We pulled people out of their comfort zone, out of the home environment where they are very comfortable with unlimited resources and put them in an environment with a limited number of personnel, a few airplanes, and limited parts,” said Lt. Col. Glen Nakamura, detachment commander for Sentry Down Under.
In the course of training, supply and communications challenges, and other unexpected events crept into the operations.
“Having unplanned events actually prepares us better for combat,” said Lt. Col. Nakamura. “It teaches us to operate and think outside the box.” “It’s all about getting the mission done, one team, one fight,” added Lt. Col. Nakamura.
Every deployment is like practice for the real thing, building up your equipment and being able to operate away from home, said Chief Master Sgt. Craig Harimoto, who was in charge of ground safety during Sentry Down Under.
While the HIANG was learning how to overcome adversity and operate outside the box, the Australian Air Force honed their aviator skills.
“The Guard is working with us for counter air defense exercises,” said Wing Commander Phil Gordon, Commanding Officer No 2 Operational Conversion Unit.
“They’re flying both as good guys and adversary aircraft, giving us realistic threat simulations,” he added.
“The Australian pilots have been fantastic. They’re outstanding aviators,” said Lt. Col. Nakamura.
According to Wing Commander Gordon, the high quality of the next generation of weapons officers that the Royal Australian Air Force will produce will be, in no small part, due to the Guard.