The F/A-22s are on their first-ever deployment. They’re at Hill Air Force Base in Layton, Utah continuing the process of becoming fully-active in the USAF.
All week, the Raptor was the talk of the town. From Monday through Thursday, military and civilian workers poured from hangars alongside the runway at Hill to watch the Raptor take off.
All over Layton, the plane prompted curious conversations like this:
“Where you from?”
“You must be here with the Raptor.”
The squadron is based in Langley, Viginia and is spending two weeks in Utah.
[Lt. Col. Jim Hecker, commander of the 27th Frighter Squadron] said the F-16s of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill were expected to provide opposition for the Raptor during the week, along with a few Raptor-versus-Raptor duels.
Whether the F-16s will see the Raptors anywhere but on the ground before and after takeoff is difficult to figure.
Probably not, if Capt. Charlie Middleton is right. “A unit of us didn’t know what to expect,” said Middleton, who flies for the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill and went against the Raptor at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida during the summer. “Well, we found out what everybody has been talking about.”
Middleton flew his F-16 against the Raptor on six sorties over six weeks. “I was killed every time,” he said, “usually more than one time a day.”
That’s reassuring. Hopefully it’s the honest truth and not some sort of publicity campaign or propaganda. I don’t doubt it’s the real story.