The Bulldogs of the 525th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, are on track to get all of their F-22s by November, the unit’s director of operations told the Daily Report July 25. Lt. Col. Orlando Sanchez said in a telephone interview the squadron has 11 aircraft on the ramp at Elmendorf, with about two a month arriving from the factory. (Like the other F-22 operational squadrons, the 525th will receive a total of 20 aircraft.) The squadron is also working to get its pilots in place as quickly as the fighters. The Air Force reactivated the 525th in October 2007 for the Raptor mission. Officials expect Elmendorf’s other Raptor squadron, the 90th FS, to be at full manning by the end of the year, followed by the 525th about six months later, Sanchez said. There was some concern that the extreme climate of Alaska might pose a challenge for the F-22, but testing went fairly well last winter. In fact, “the jet does have a harder time with humidity and rain” found in more temperate areas, Sanchez said. The cold weather hasn’t proved a factor in generating sorties. Both the 525th and 90th will have sheltered dedicated hangar space for all of their F-22s, enabling maintenance crews to work inside during the worst weather. Currently the 525th uses space designed for F-15Cs, but new facilities are anticipated to be up and running by Fiscal 2011, Sanchez said. “We’d prefer to have those guys inside, but we both [the 525th and 90th] have space for major maintenance,” he said.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.