Alaskan Raptors arrive in Australia for training initiative

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Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, taxies on the runway at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal, Australia, Feb. 13, 2017. Twelve F-22 Raptors and approximately 200 Airmen are at RAAF Base Tindal as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation Initiative under the Force Posture Agreement between the U.S. and Australia.

The last wave of F-22 Raptors from the 90th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, arrived at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal Feb. 14, 2017, to launch bilateral exercise and training missions with the Royal Australian Air Force and further strengthen the military relationship the two nations share.

“We are thrilled to be here and working with our Australian counterparts,” said Lt. Col. Dave Skalicky, the 90th FS commander. They have been phenomenal hosts, and their level of support allows us to increase our combined capabilities.”

The F-22s, 12 in total, came to RAAF Base Tindal under the direction of U.S. Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris, the U.S. Pacific Command commander, as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation Initiative under the Force Posture Agreement between the U.S. and Australia.

This combined training activity marks the most extensive F-22 joint training with Australia in duration and scale, providing the Raptors the opportunity to conduct integrated air operations training with the RAAF’s 75 Squadron F/A-18A/B Hornets.

“We constantly look forward to training operating with our U.S. counterparts, in particular, with fifth-generation squadrons such as the 90th FS,” said Wing Commander Mick Grant, the 75 Squadron commander. “Usually we only integrate with the F-22s at major exercises in the U.S. such as Red Flag or during coalition operations, so we appreciate the efforts of the 90th FS having traveled a significant distance to Australia to join us in our backyard this year. Northern Australia’s extreme climate and distinctive training areas provide our ally unique opportunities to train with their fifth-generation aircraft in a range of environmental conditions.”

A member of the Royal Australian Air Force marshals a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, arriving from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on the flightline at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal, Australia, Feb. 13, 2017.

The F-22s and F/A-18A/Bs will conduct offensive and defensive training missions at various locations in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Skalicky explained the history of the 90th FS and how it can trace it’s lineage back to World War II when the then U.S. Army Air Forces 90th Bombardment Squadron conducted missions out of the area against the Japanese in various battles throughout the Pacific.

“We were here 75 years ago, and to be back carrying on the tradition is an honor,” Skalicky said.

Accompanying the F-22s here are approximately 200 Airmen providing operational, maintenance, logistical and security support.
The F-22s are scheduled to be in Australia through the beginning of March.