F-22 Raptors Rearmed in Demonstration of ACE Capabilities

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. John Linzmeier,
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs - Hawaii Air National Guard

PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY, Hawaii - Total-Force weapons specialists from 154th and 15th wings rearmed F-22 Raptors at the Pacific Missile Range Facility for the first time March 8-9, demonstrating their ACE capabilities.

The maneuver operation was part of a larger Joint Base Readiness Exercise carried out by Hawaii Air National Guard and Active-Duty Airmen stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Aircraft armament systems crews from the 154th and 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons transited to Kauai on a C-17 Globemaster III loaded with the essential equipment needed to help receive, rearm and launch fighter aircraft within a condensed time window.

Known as the F-22 Tailorable Force Package, the outbound unit was strategically constructed of members with mission-critical skills. Minimal-Mission-Capable Airmen were postured to sustain combat operations between a central hub, JBPH-H, and an outer spoke, the PMRF at Barking Sands.

Each training day began with the routine launching of F-22 combat sorties. However, upon concluding their initial air battle, Raptor pilots delayed their usual return to JBPH-H and set a course for Kauai for refueling and rearmament. Then, after receiving a full complement of fuel and munitions, they returned to the battle space to engage in additional air-to-air combat training.

A wing inspection team observed all Kauai weapons activities as part of the exercise. 

Staff Sgt. Steve Tanaleon, 154th AMXS weapons technician, said his confidence skyrocketed after his team armed its first Raptor in the new, relatively remote environment in less time using limited resources.

“This is a big deal for all of us,” said Tanaleon. “Especially for part-timers like myself. We do most of our training on the weekend. But this joint operation thrusted us into these positions of high responsibility and limited resources, proving that we can always get the job done.”

While the inert munitions were non-explosive, participants were trained to always handle them as though the weapon systems were live to ensure that all safety procedures would be followed in wartime.

The airfield’s weather and remoteness were valuable learning experiences for the Airmen.

“Landing conditions were challenging due to the short runway, strong crosswinds and inclement weather,” said  Lt. Col. Curtis Yoshimoto, detachment commander. “Our supervisory personnel on the ground are in constant communication with pilots to pass critical information, enabling pilots to adjust and overcome such circumstances.”

By servicing fighter aircraft at the PMRF, Airmen could simulate the conditions of a remote and austere environment.

Maj. Nicholas Danielson, 154 WG mission planner, said the complex training plan was made possible because of the longstanding partnership between the 154th and 15th wings. He said the exercise validated the JBPH-H Airmen’s ability to meet emerging requirements rapidly.

In addition to executing ACE concepts, the training increased the interoperability between U.S. Air Force units and U.S. Navy personnel at the PMRF.

“Our capability to rearm jets at austere locations projects combat airpower, validating the wings’ effectiveness to deploy expeditiously anywhere, anytime,” said Danielson. “The TFI training accomplished during this JBRE has proved vital to the 15th and 154th wings' readiness and preparation to execute ACE operations in any theater.”