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JBER units innovate to rapidly deploy F-22s

Published: Sat February 22nd, 2014 via: US Air Force

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- JBER's 3rd Wing is developing a program to drastically decrease the time it takes to deploy the world's most advanced stealth fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor.

Originally developed in concert with the 477th Fighter Group, Air Force Reserve, the plan will provide combatant commanders with a major strategic advantage, when fully implemented.

"Rapid Raptor is an ability to rapidly deploy a small set of our forces ahead of the major flow of assets to get to the fight quickly," said Air Force Maj. Christopher Lazidis, 3rd Operations Support Squadron. "It takes the next step in transforming us into a more flexible and expeditious option for the combatant commanders."

Essentially, Rapid Raptor will allow F-22s to join the fight without being deployed.

"Past Raptor deployments operated under the constant watch theory, where the aircraft are already pre-positioned in the area of responsibility," said Air Force Capt. Christopher Nary, 3rd OSS. "This new concept may allow a drawdown of pre-positioned assets, relying on the flexibility of a smaller footprint for austere operations while achieving the same effects."

This capability would also allow the F-22s to deploy faster, Nary said.

"The timeline to deploy F-22s and, more importantly, their support equipment and personnel, is significantly reduced," Nary said. "Identifying cargo and personnel requirements ahead of time reduces the normal processing time, allowing for a quicker deployment of assets."

This is the first time F-22s have been involved in the concept of deploying a self-sustaining package of aircraft, although other services have used the tactic.

"This is not an entirely new idea, and we are still working on the capability," Lazidis said. "What we are doing at JBER is modifying it so it fits the Raptor."

As with any initiative of this magnitude, developing the Rapid Raptor program has been a challenge.

"This new innovation of airpower has not been without its hurdles," Lazidis said. "Even aboard the large C-17, finding the right balance between people, munitions and maintenance equipment in the limited cargo space has been a tremendous challenge. The 3rd Maintenance Group personnel have pored over dozens of load plan options, ensuring they have the best available personnel and equipment to make the mission a success."

Once it's perfected, Rapid Raptor could change the way F-22s fight wars.

"There are many people hard at work to make this capability a reality," Lazidis said. "Ideas that started more than two years ago are being shared and expanded on. With help from the 673d Air Base Wing to get out the door, the 3rd Wing hopes to get the F-22 to the fight rapidly. It's why we bought the plane, to have it on the leading edge of the fight. So we need a way to get it to the fight for night one of the war."

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