Wings to merge and position gained on F/A-22

The US Air National Guard (ANG) is reorganising to gain a toehold in the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F/A-22 Raptor programme and pick up two new squadrons of General Atomics Predator unmanned air vehicles.

Both missions are being added as part of larger effort for the ANG and the Air Force Reserve (AFR) to expand into emerging mission areas, while at the same time shedding older roles that are becoming less relevant in modern warfighting, says Lt Gen Stephen Wood, air force deputy chief of staff for plans and programmes.

The F/A-22 initiative will merge the ANG's 192nd Fighter Wing into the active duty's 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia, which is the first unit to receive operational F/A-22s. The ANG unit, which is to phase out its ageing Lockheed Martin F-16s, will move from Richmond, Virginia.

ANG pilots and maintainers will now be trained in the initial cadre of the 1st Fighter Wing's F/A-22 workforce, but the activity duty will retain ownership and budget responsibility for the advanced stealth fighters. But guard and reserve officials hail the development as a major step for their efforts to keep pace with the capabilities of the US Air Force, especially as manpower pressures force more collaboration.

The new predator squadrons will be formed in Texas and Arizona, adding to an ANG unit at Nellis AFB, Nevada.

Source: Flight International