February 11, 2008
F-22A Raptor comes to U.S.A.F. Weapons School: keeping the torch of air dominance burning
By 2nd Lt. Jennifer Richard
Nellis AFB Public Affairs
Maj. Micah Fesler, a 433rd Weapons Squadron pilot, flies an F-22A Raptor from a Lockheed-Martin factory in Georgia to Nellis AFB, Jan. 9. This Raptor is the first to be delivered to the 57th Wing from Lockheed-Martin, and is scheduled to be used by the U.S. Air Force Weapons School for training of PhD-level instructor pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Phil Landram)
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Maj. Micah Fesler, 433rd Weapons Squadron pilot and Virginia Air National Guardsman, delivered the 57th Wing’s first F-22A Raptor here Jan. 9.
The aircraft is scheduled to be used by the U.S. Air Force Weapons School as it stands up the first F-22A Weapons School course.
The F-22A Raptor arrived here from a Lockheed-Martin facility in Marietta, Ga.
“Flying that F-22 was exciting because I literally picked it up from the factory,” said Maj. Fesler.
The brand-new aircraft is the first of six Raptors the 433rd Weapons Squadron plans to have by September of this year.
The U.S.A.F. Weapons School is scheduled to hold a validation course for the F-22A program January 2009 and the first class of students July 2009.
“In the validation course, there will be six instructor pilots basically putting each other through the course,” said Lt. Col. Pete Milohnic, 433rd Weapons Squadron commander.
This will prepare instructor pilots for the first-ever F-22A Weapons School course, in which they hope to teach three students.
Between now and January 2009, squadron members will be developing the course material.
Instructors have about 360 hours of academics to build, said Maj. Fesler. They have to build the syllabus, plan every sortie, and develop briefings for every sortie.
“It is a fairly large undertaking because we are starting with a blank slate,” he said.
The process of standing up the F-22A Weapons School course needs to be a collaborative effort, said Col. Milohnic.
Members of the 433rd Weapons Squadron have been reaching out to Langley, Elmendorf, Holloman, and Tyndall Air Force Bases—bases that currently fly or are scheduled to fly the Raptors, he said.
“We can’t do this without their expertise,” said Col. Milohnic. “They are the customers. We’re making a huge effort to give them what they want.”
With the addition of the Raptors, the 433rd Weapons Squadron will be flying both fourth-generation and fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
Having both F-15s and F-22s together in the same squadron is a huge step for the integration of air dominance assets, said Maj. Fesler.
The new F-22A course is also a step forward in the integration of Air National Guard into the U.S.A.F. Weapons School. Maj. Fesler is the first guardsman instructor pilot in the school.
The founding of the F-22A Weapons School course marks progress in the aircrafts’ weapons systems maturity. Pilots trained here will become Raptor experts, carrying a standardized message for the employment of the aircraft.
The 433rd Weapons Squadron has a strong heritage of success. Since the squadron began producing F-15 weapons officers thirty years ago, the F-15s have maintained an undefeated, 104-0 kill-to-loss record.
The U.S.A.F. Weapons School can hope to continue this tradition of success with the F-22A Raptor.
“The torch of air dominance will someday be passed to the F-22,” said Lt. Col. Gary Rose, 433rd Weapons Squadron assistant director of operations. “It is the future of the Air Force.”