The new Raptor unit at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, though it recently sent off a couple of F-22s to intercept some Russian bombers, still hasn’t declared initial operational capability. The unit is inching closer, completing a mock bomb drop earlier this month over the Alaskan training range and on target, in early February, to deploy eight F-22s with support equipment and personnel to Tyndall AFB, Fla., for a two-week weapon systems evaluation program exercise. Lt. Col. Mike Shower, 90th Fighter Squadron commander, says the unit has lost time because of “some additional, unforeseen mission requirements,” and notes, too, that Elmendorf’s arctic weather makes it a “more challenging” environment than at other operational bases. The unit expects to declare IOC in August. (Elmendorf report by A1C David Carbajal)
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."