June 16, 2008

192nd first Air Guard unit to fly F-22 for Operation Noble Eagle

By David Hopper
Air Combat Command Public Affairs

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va.  The Virginia Air National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing here is the first Air Guard unit to fly the F-22 Raptor in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

Operation Noble Eagle was established by President George W. Bush to protect the American homeland following the terrorist attacks in September 2001.

Aircrews from the wing's 149th Fighter Squadron fly the Raptor.

"The mission for the protection of the homeland has not changed for us since the inception of Operation Noble Eagle," said Lt. Col. James Cox, 149th FS commander. The capability of the 149th to carry out the mission has been greatly increased because of the abilities of the F-22.

The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions providing a diverse aerial combat capability for operational concepts. One concept the F-22 has become involved with here is Total Force Integration. An example of TFI is the combination of two force components -- active duty and Air Guard in this case -- sharing the responsibility of one mission -- Operation Noble Eagle.

Under the TFI construct, the active duty 1st FW and the 192nd FW provide combat forces in a more cost-effective manner to support the defense of the nation, said Lt. Col. David Nardi, 149th Fighter Squadron operations officer. This is the first time the Air Guard has operated with a front-line fighter soon after it reached full operational capability.

The 1st FW and 192nd FW combined in October 2007 under TFI. That move made the 192nd the first Air Guard unit to operate the F-22.

"The integration of the two wings provides the combat capabilities we need to execute the Operation Noble Eagle mission," said Nardi. The TFI construct adds a tremendous amount of ability from all critical areas required in protecting the nation and fulfilling the Air Force mission around the world.

The F-22 flew its first active-duty flight in support of Operation Noble Eagle in January 2007. The 1st FW's 27th FS was the first unit to conduct an operational flight with live ordnance loaded in the Raptor.

"We do the same thing for Operation Noble Eagle as we would do in theater, in support of the troops," said Cox. "The F-22 has performed brilliantly and we have seen our best response times to date."

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