PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --- A record-breaking number of F-22 raptor sorties were successfully launched from the runway at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, June 6.
Pilots of the F-22 from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 199th Fighter Squadron and the 19th Fighter Squadron teamed up with maintenance Airmen from the 154th Wing and 15th Maintenance Group to launch and recover 62 Raptors in a day.
A sortie surge, or an increase in flying operations, simulates wartime operations, which is higher than the standard training tempo. The increase in sorties tested the flying capability of the total force integration squadron known as the Hawaiian Raptors.
Operators, maintainers and supporting personnel all played their part to set the new record.
"Morale seemed to be at an all-time high, with pilots literally grinning from ear to ear," said Lt. Col. Justin Spears, 19th FS commander. "Spirits seemed equally high on the maintenance side. When I went out to the ramp, I was continually asked by every maintainer I saw, 'What's the sortie count?' and 'How many are we going to get?' Those men and women did an absolutely phenomenal job quick turning jets, fixing broken aircraft, replacing tires when plugs blew and running the hot pits."
According to Spears, in a normal week around 50 sorties are scheduled. By flying 62 sorties, the Hawaiian Raptors flew more than they would ever fly or schedule in the normal five-day flying week.
The previous record was 46 sorties in one day with 14 aircraft, this recorded was broken using only 12 of the 18 aircraft in the smallest F-22 squadron in the Air Force. (Emphasis added—Ed.)
"This proves that we are a much more confident unit," said Staff Sgt. Alan Michael Warner, 154th Maintenance Squadron. "We have gained a lot of experience and knowledge on this aircraft. We know how to attack issues and succeed with the mission."
In order to fly as many sorties as possible pilots and maintainers conducted hot pit refueling, a procedure performed to rapidly refuel the aircraft and allow it to complete a second sortie in a short amount of time.
During a hot pit refuel, the pilot will stay in the cockpit with the jet running while the maintenance crews perform safety checks and refuel the aircraft allowing it to return to flight in minimum time.
"Our maintainers got 12 aircraft out on the line and got them flying and not only started with 12 but then launched another 12 and another 12 and kept it going until we got 62 sorties," said Spears. "This would not have happened if not for the Airmen working the jets."