An F-22 Raptor flown by Col. Jeff Harrigian arrives June 2 at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., June 2. Holloman AFB is one of four bases the F-22s will be assigned at. Prior to landing, the jets flew over the Tularosa Basin, giving community members a chance to see the new aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Anthony Nelson)
by Airman Sondra M. Wieseler
49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/4/2008 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFPN) — More than 200 members of Holloman Air Force Base gathered to welcome the first two F-22 Raptors as they taxied into Hangar 301 here at 2:49 p.m., marking June 2 as an important date in 49th Fighter Wing history.
The Air Force had announced in March 2006 that Holloman AFB was one of the preferred bases to receive the F-22A Raptor, and after much preparation, it has arrived.
The first two F-22s to feature the Holloman AFB tail flash, “HO,” were flown in by Col. Jeff Harrigian, the 49th Fighter Wing commander and Lt. Col. Mike Hernandez, the 7th Fighter Squadron commander.
“It’s a big day. We’re very proud to have the aircraft finally here,” Colonel Hernandez said. “The F-22 is the finest fighter in the world. It is by far better than anything else that is out there and better than anything on anyone’s drawings board. We’re very lucky.”
Over the next six months, the aircraft will be flown, but the focus will be on training for Airmen here, Colonel Hernandez said. More aircraft will begin to roll in the first of the year and the goal is to be operationally ready by Nov. 1, 2009.
“I’m really proud of what everyone did to make this happen,” Colonel Harrigian said. “Everyone came together and managed to make us ‘Raptor Ready’ in a short period of time. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we will be ready by the time we need to be.”
Several onlookers said they were impressed by its presentation.
“I’ve seen (the F-22) used in a couple movies and I always thought it was a very cool and very sleek jet all around,” said Staff Sgt. Roland Vigne, with the 49th Materiel Maintenance Support Squadron.” It’s a great opportunity to be stationed on one of only four bases getting it.”
The official ceremony for the arrival of the F-22 is scheduled for June 6, where the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, will make a presentation.