The US Air Force is activating the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall AFB, Florida, on 11 October, kicking off a process that will eventually see 24 additional F-22 Raptors being assigned to the base.

“The squadron is being reactivated tomorrow,” says Col Max Marosko, commander of the 325th Operations Group. “The jets won’t start showing up until January.”

Once the first jets arrive in January, more will start arriving in phases through April 2014.The squadron will eventually have 24 aircraft, which includes 21 primary jets and three backup aircraft.

The Raptors were previously based at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, with the 7th Fighter Squadron, but are being shifted as part of an overall USAF effort to consolidate its F-22s at six bases. Combined with the 31 Raptors already assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall AFB will host a total of 55 F-22s. “It’s the largest concentration in the air force,” Marosko says.

F-22 and T-38 over Tyndall AFB

US Air Force

The 95th Fighter Squadron will not be immediately mission ready when its jets arrive. It will have to slowly ramp up its operations to get back up to speed. Marosko says he expects the unit to be mission ready by the “summer”.

Unlike the wing’s 43rd Fighter Squadron, which is the F-22 formal training unit, the 95th Fighter Squadron will be a frontline combat unit. While it is somewhat unusual for an operational unit to be based alongside a training unit, it is not unprecedented, Marosko says. The USAF’s fleet of Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles has a similar setup.

In addition to the Raptors, the 325th Fighter Wing will also receive 10 additional Northrop T-38s by the end of the third quarter, bringing the total number of Talon jet trainers at the base up to 20. The small twin-engined jets are used as adversary aircraft for the Raptors. However, using the T-38 for aggressor training has some limitations since the Talon does not have radar or the ability to carry captive air training missiles. But “it helps free up Raptor lines for training,” Marosko says.

Source: Flight International