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NEWS | June 9, 2006

Raptors find new nest in Alaska as Langley’s runway is repaired

By Capt. Elizabeth Kreft 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – After flying more than 3,200 miles over land, ocean, mountains and glaciers, six F-22A Raptors arrived here Tuesday. 

Though it is not the first time the Raptors have flown over snow-capped mountains, it is the first time they have flown outside of the continental United States and have been to Alaska. 

“It feels great to be here,” said Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver, 27th Fighter Squadron commander. “This is the longest continuous trip we’ve flown in this bird, so that gives us a great start to this entire visit.” 

The 27th FS, the first operational Raptor Squadron, brought an additional six jets into town Wednesday and Thursday, making it an even dozen F-22s that will nest at Elmendorf AFB for the next six weeks. 

“The 3rd Wing hospitality has been wonderful so far, and we look forward to the weeks ahead,” said Colonel Tolliver. 

The 12 Raptors, 18 pilots, 174 maintainers – as well as several other Raptor support personnel – will participate in Northern Edge, Alaskan Command’s joint exercise taking place Monday through June 16. 

NE 2006 is the other first for the Raptors this trip: it is the very first continuous exercise that will include the F-22. During the exercise, more than 5,000 U.S. active-duty and reserve component military members will work together in a joint environment to enhance their ability to rapidly respond to any regional contingency. 

“We are excited to bring the Raptor into the mix here, it is extremely important to test the interoperability between emerging weapons systems and the current operational tools on the Air Force and joint level,” said Colonel Tolliver. 

The exercise will provide unique opportunities to hone current and test future applications of joint combat operations and weapons capabilities he said. 

“I guarantee everyone, whether they’re from Virginia, Alaska or beyond, will learn quite a bit from this exercise,” he said. 

Part of the overall Raptor interest here stems from the knowledge that this base will be the next operational location to house F-22s. Senior leaders have already drawn up plans to bring Alaska Raptors and maintainers to Langley for several months of training prior to their arrival at Elmendorf. 

These next few weeks of cooperation and education will prove to be valuable for the 3rd Wing and 1st Fighter Wing in coming months. 

“We know that we will be working closely together in the near future, so this is an excellent opportunity to get to know some of the people and processes that we will encounter as we bring F-22s to Alaska,” said Col. Randy Roberts, 3rd Wing Operations Group commander. 

“Building solid working relationships before the start of this Raptor process will make everything about this transition easier for our Airmen,” he said. 

After participating in Northern Edge, the 27th FS will remain here until the end of June. 

Colonel Tolliver said his squadron’s goal is to get as much training as possible. 

“This will be another opportunity for our deployment team to test several layers of our supply chain and out-of-town operations,” said Colonel Tolliver. “Bringing the F-22 here, away from our support structure at Langley, gives us the ability to prepare for future deployments that will take us even farther across the globe.”