Official discusses new mission
By Arlan Ponder, 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 06, 2006
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Alamogordo's Committee of 50 had the chance to discuss with a Pentagon official exactly what can be expected as Holloman prepares for the arrival of the Air Force's Raptor.
"This is an incredible aircraft. It is hard to see on radar and because of the integrated systems on board, it is extremely lethal," said Col. Walter Givhan, combat forces division chief, Air Force Headquarters, Pentagon, Washington D.C., during a Thursday meeting with the committee.
Although it is known for its unprecedented "stand-off" weapons employment, the F-22A is also lethal in close combat.
"In a dog fight, this is the plane you want," he said. "Because it can do things no other plane can do."
The fifth-generation fighter jet's maneuverability is "eye watering," according to Colonel Givhan. The arrival of the F-22A Raptor, which is currently set for late 2008, has been the result of long range planning after a procurement holiday in the 1990s. It will also permit "around the clock" stealth operations, which will allow the Air Force to maintain their air superiority.
"I took offense when someone once said we wanted to buy new toys," he said. "These aren't toys to the guys sitting in the cockpit. This aircraft will help us fly, fight and win. We don't want an even fight, we want the best."
The fact that Holloman is slated to receive the F-22A is a testament to the base, Team Holloman and the community, Colonel Givhan said. The Pentagon and the Air Force understand how important the F-22A beddown is to Holloman and Alamogordo, so they are "constantly working" to make it happen. He said Holloman is an ideal base for the housing of the newest fighter because of the limited amount of infrastructure modifications that will be required.
Current estimates have placed F-22-related construction costs at Holloman around $40 million, a relatively inexpensive number, said Colonel Givhan, considering the technological edge the Raptor provides the Air Force.
Construction and renovations to Holloman could produce approximately 330 additional jobs during the transition. Although Holloman could lose more than 280 Airmen positions during the divestment of the F-117A, Colonel Givhan added, "Putting a lot of faith in this number isn't good. A majority of the maintenance personnel at Holloman will transition from the F-117A to the F-22A. Because of their experience with the original stealth fighter, we feel these maintenance personnel are well equipped to handle the technology associated with the F-22."
The Air Force planner also indicated a number of pilots assigned to the F-22A could arrive several months prior to the actual arrival of the aircraft. During this time, the pilots and their families would begin to get established in Alamogordo before the pilots go to another base to receive additional training on the advanced aircraft.
During a question and answer portion of the briefing, Mr. Richard Colthorp, publisher of the Alamogordo Daily News and Committee of 50 member, said, "Holloman is a better training facility than anything on the eastern seaboard. We would love to have the training here as well."
Colonel Givhan said the Air Force recognizes the important role Holloman has played since its birth in 1942.
"Holloman is a vital asset to the Air Force and the United States," he said. "It is an ideal place for conducting this mission because of its size and airspace."
According to Mr. Steve Traver, an aide for U.S. Representative Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), New Mexico legislators, along with the Department of Defense, also recognize the importance of Holloman in the bigger military aspect.
The close proximities of Kirtland AFB, Cannon AFB, White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss also make Holloman a strategic location in future military training and missions conducted by every military branch.
"The whole transition of the future of warfare is taking place at this geographic location," he said. "In the future all forces will have to work together in Net-Centric warfare where everyone knows what everyone else is doing so we can win the fight."