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Holloman F-22
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Two F-22 Raptors perform a fly-by after the playing of Taps Oct. 8, 2011, to recognize all fallen service members during the “Legacy of Liberty” Open House and Air Show. The F-22 Raptor is the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft and its combination of stealth, super cruise and maneuverability represents a leap in technology. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman DeAndre Curtiss/Released)
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F-22 mission essential to Holloman, AF

Posted 5/1/2012   Updated 5/1/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Colin Cates
49th Wing Public Affairs

5/1/2012 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- Holloman AFB is home to the F-22 Raptor, the Air Force's most dominant platform.

Its combination of stealth, super-cruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in war-fighting capabilities, according to the official U.S. Air Force fact sheet. The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, allowing full realization of operational concepts vital to the 21st century Air Force.

"The F-22 is a 5th generation aircraft, the only one of its kind in the world, that takes true stealth and combines it with maneuverability, integrated sensor , relatively easy logistics, and the ability to deliver a variety of munitions," said Lt. Col. Robert Teschner, 49th Wing director of staff.

The Air Force has conducted faster-than-sound test flights since 1947, and today, most Air Force fighter aircraft are capable of supersonic speed. Consequently, supersonic training flights that simulate actual combat conditions are necessary to ensure success during wartime.

The F-22 possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected.

The pilots have the ability to get into heavily-defended areas and have survivability that other platforms might not, along with paving the way for other platforms to release their munitions, said Teschner.

"Our mission here is an operational mission, and Holloman is one of five F-22 Raptor squadrons available to the president to deploy at a moment's notice," said Teschner. "The training we do here is constant rehearsal for what the pilots will encounter on a real-world mission."

Establishing habit patterns is critical to a pilot's success, said Teschner. The amount of actual flying time a pilot gets is limited airspace and jet availability. When a pilot has the privilege to fly a one-hour mission, they have to execute in a real-world fashion. The nation depends on the pilots to use the time in the air wisely and to the fullest extent possible.

"The wing commander takes his responsibility to the families of the pilots seriously; he wants to make sure that when the time comes for Holloman to be called to action, that the pilots come home safely," said Teschner. "At the same time, he has asked the pilots to do everything in their power to be sensitive to the needs of the community."

Supersonic operations over land must be conducted above 30,000 feet or, when below 30,000 feet, in specially-designated areas approved by Headquarters United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., and the Federal Aviation Administration.

One way Holloman AFB reduces the effect of sonic booms on the community is by advertising the time that the F-22 will be flying, to give to residents a chance to be ready for possible booms. The flying schedule is published on a number of outlets: the Holloman Sounds of Freedom webpage, Facebook page, and on the radio.

Holloman's Public Affairs office receives and tracks all the noise complaints and provides a phone number for the 49th Wing judge advocate to file a damage claim for monetary reimbursement of any damages that are legitimately caused by the sonic booms, said Maj. Kenneth DeGon, 49th Operations Support Squadron operations flight commander.

"These noise complaints are consolidated and examined for trends, reported to our headquarters, and studied to determine if local flying restrictions would be appropriate," said DeGon. "The 49th Wing leadership avails themselves to public meetings when it is appropriate and provides responses to noise issues when requested through the proper channels."

The Air Force continues to expand its knowledge of sonic booms, according to the fact sheet. Continuing research specifically addresses modeling the generation of a sonic boom and its impact on the environment. This research provides the Air Force with tools to mitigate sonic boom disturbances through flight operations planning and land use compatibility planning.

Ground width of the boom exposure area is approximately one mile for each 1,000 feet of altitude; that is, an aircraft flying supersonic at 30,000 feet will create a lateral boom spread of about 30 miles. For steady supersonic flight, the boom is described as a carpet boom, since it moves with the aircraft as it maintains supersonic speed and altitude.

Holloman AFB F-22 pilots use a variety of noise mitigation strategies that include changing the flying direction, altitude and width of air space. By doing this the booms that naturally occur during the course of a tactical mission will affect different areas over time, said Teschner.

This protocol gives the pilots the complex training they need and the community is benefited by fewer booms, a positive for both parties involved, said Teschner.

"With a family that lives downtown as well, I am sensitive to the noise issues with this airplane," said Teschner. "Our balance is that the nation needs us to be as prepared as possible and also understand the effect the booms have on the community."

Local residents shared their feeling towards the F-22 and the sonic booms.

"When I hear the booms, it reminds me of my commitment to my country," said Corrine Bachman, a resident of Alamogordo, N.M. "I feel Holloman's presence here is a very positive one and the base means so much to this community in so many ways."

"I feel that the mission at Holloman does not negatively affect, offend or bother me in anyway," said Justin Palmer, another local resident. "Holloman is critically important to the economic welfare of the community."

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