By Ashley M. Wright, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published April 25, 2014
The first five F-22 Raptors for the 95th Fighter Squadron perform a flyover Jan. 6, 2014, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. With all 24 F-22s transferred from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Tyndall AFB leaders declared the 95th FS at Initial Operational Capability April 8. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Dustin Mullen)
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TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) --
The 95th Fighter Squadron here took another step toward an increased ability to protect global airpower, unit officials said.
Col. David E. Graff, the 325th Fighter Wing commander, declared the 95th Fighter Squadron initial operational capability ready April 8, when the last of 24 F-22 Raptors arrived from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.
"This is another milestone in the long journey of the 95th FS and (Tyndall AFB towards) realizing our ultimate goal of having a combat F-22 squadron, mission ready" said Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert, the 95th FS commander.
Declaring the 95th FS operationally capable means if called upon, a limited force of F-22s from the unit along with personnel could deploy to support a larger, already pre-positioned force. The squadron remains at this level until additional personnel and equipment arrive over the next few months.
"We have all of our aircraft bed down, but we are still receiving operations and maintenance personnel in addition to a good amount of equipment," Gilbert said. "The most rewarding experience for me has been seeing the hard work everyone is putting in to make the 95th FS and Aircraft Maintenance Units a success."
The journey for the 95th FS will continue next month as the squadron sends personnel and aircraft to participate in Combat Hammer, an air-to-ground weapons system evaluation program at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
"We are scheduled to drop dozens of bombs amidst a robust training threat" Gilbert said of the mission. "Again, this is another step in the right direction toward full operational capability."
With the current schedule of incoming personnel and equipment, the 95th FS expects to declare full operational capability this summer, Gilbert said. This next-level of capability means that the entire squadron is capable of deploying to support national security objectives with the most advanced operational fighter in the world if called upon.
"It is an exciting time for everyone at Tyndall (AFB)," Graff said.
With more than 50 F-22s on the flightline, Tyndall AFB can now bring both the 95th FS to the battlefield and continue to train F-22 pilots in the 325th FW.
"Both training and projecting combat airpower in the F-22 provide unique, unrivaled capabilities to our nation," Graff added. "But it could not happen without a large outpouring of support from our neighbors here in Bay County who have been so gracious to reach out to our expanding Tyndall (AFB) family."