Raptors are speeding to the skies above Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
The 71st Fighter Squadron, 1st Operations Group, 1st Fighter Wing welcomed the first two F-22 Raptors, tails AF040 and AF042, from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on Wednesday. The Air Force’s F-22 Formal Training Unit is moving from Tyndall to Langley-Eustis, a decision that was made in 2021, according to an Air Force news release.
The Raptors are the first of 30 to arrive at the Virginia base. The base broke ground on a new low observable composite repair facility in November, as well as a new combined operations and maintenance hangar Feb. 22, as part of the move, the release said.
“We’re going to train pilots, who just got their wings, how to employ the F-22 in our squadron, and then we’ll send them out to their combat units,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Gray, 71st Fighter Squadron commander, who flew one of the F-22s to its new home in Virginia.
The F-22 entered service in 2005 and is used primarily by the Air Education and Training Command, Air Combat Command and Pacific Air Forces. The fighter jet can reach altitudes above 50,000 feet and airspeeds above Mach 1.5 without using afterburner — a characteristic known as supercruise, according to an Air Force fact sheet.
Langley-Eustis has a long history of combat training missions. In November 1920, the U.S. Army Air Service opened the Air Service Field Officers’ School at Langley Field, Va. Redesignated the Air Service Tactical School and later the Air Corps Tactical School, its mission, according to the Air Force History and Museums program, was “to train air officers (and selected officers of the other armed services) in the strategy, tactics, and techniques of airpower,” the Air Force release said.
“The arrival of these first two aircraft is the beginning of a new era, and we’re very excited,” said Capt. Trent Amerson, who took command of the newly established 71st Fighter Generation Squadron in January. “We still have a hard road ahead — with standing up the 71st squadrons, but we’re confident in the capability of our maintainers and expertise of our pilots in producing the most lethal F-22 pilots in the Air Force.”