The US Air Force (USAF) 71st Fighter Squadron (FS) has received the first two F-22 Raptor aircraft at Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE) in Virginia, US.
The two aircraft, with tail numbers AF040 and AF042, were delivered by the Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida on 29 March.
71st FS commander lieutenant colonel Andrew Gray said: “We’re bringing the training mission of the F-22 here. We are going to train pilots, who just got their wings, how to employ the F-22 in our squadron, and then we will send them out to their combat units.”
The 71st FS, assigned under 1st Fighter Wing, will receive a total of 30 F-22 Raptor aircraft and become the new F-22 Formal Training Unit (FTU).
Prior to this, the F-22 FTU mission was being carried out at the Tyndall AFB. The F-22s were temporarily relocated to Eglin AFB, Florida after Tyndall suffered damage due to Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Later in 2021, the USAF decided to sign a ‘Record of Decision’ to select JBLE as the new FTU location.
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Construction work has already commenced on two of several military infrastructure projects to support the new FTU mission.
The first project, which is the opening of a new low observable composite repair facility, commenced in November last year. The second combined operations and maintenance hangar project started in February 2022.
71st Fighter Generation Squadron captain Trent Amerso said: “The arrival of these first two aircraft is the beginning of a new era, and we’re very excited.
“We still have a hard road ahead, but we’re confident in the capability of our maintainers and expertise of our pilots in producing the most lethal F-22 pilots in the Air Force.”