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U.S. Air Force Modifies F-22 Raptor for New Era

A new era is under way as maintenance members modify an F-22 Raptor for the first time.

By G. A. Volb / Ogden Air Logistics Center Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, April 18, 2006 – A new era for members of the 309th Maintenance Group here is under way as they modify an F-22 Raptor for the first time.

The aircraft is the first of 12 to 14 scheduled to visit Hill this calendar year for minor modifications. A total of 18 are contracted to undergo work here.

"We're excited," said Guy Phillips, F-22 maintenance squadron director for the 309th Maintenance Group, about its new customer. "Most of us are a little apprehensive, but are well prepared and have lots of experience on aircraft."

"We're also confident that, with the experienced Lockheed contractors training us, we'll establish our comfort zone and reduce our training curve quickly," he noted.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Evan Dertien, flying out of Langley Air Force Base, Va., ferried the aircraft to Hill, exiting its cockpit to a warm mix of local maintainers and media representatives, and then fielded questions about the 21st century aircraft for nearly 20 minutes.

"Our first modification is night air-to-air refueling designed to enhance the boom operator's night vision and receptacle location while performing in-flight refueling."

Guy Phillips

He was all smiles as the crowd of print and broadcast journalists queried him on everything from the Raptor's increased capabilities to how comfortable it was to fly.

"It's really very comfortable," said Dertien, as he addressed the throng of media on Hill's flight line.

"There's nothing like it anywhere else in the world," he said. "Flying it is a dream come true for me having heard about it during its initial development stage years ago."

The major said even its closest rivals aren't in the same league.

The Raptor combines sensor capability, integrated avionics, situational awareness and weaponry providing pilots first-kill opportunity against threat airborne or on the ground.

See Caption.
The first F-22 arrives at Hill Air Force Base, Utah for depot work and minor modifications. U.S. Air Force photo by Bill Orndorf

F-22 pilots use a sophisticated sensor suite to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected.

"We can track targets and initiate contact before they even know we're in the area," said Dertien. "By the time they realize we've engaged it's too late."

According to Phillips, each F-22 should spend 35 days here.

"Our first modification is night air-to-air refueling designed to enhance the boom operator's night vision and receptacle location while performing in-flight refueling," he explained.

Phillips said the first three aircraft will be worked by one shift due to ongoing training, but the rest will be worked on by two shifts.

In preparation of the F-22's arrival, many of the maintainers attended classes at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to bring them up to speed.

"They have been excellent to gear up and train not only the depot civilians, but also our 649th Combat Logistics Support Squadron here that is part of our F-22 team," said Phillips. "Due to the complex nature and constant advancements in aircraft technology, our people are always being trained and certified. Our on-the-job training is being provided by Lockheed Martin and Boeing - the original manufacturers of the Raptor."
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Nov. 27, 2014
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