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Desert Raptors  Settle at Holloman's 49ers - One of two F-22A Raptors fly over Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., June 2. The jets are the first two Holloman-tailed F-22s to arrive on base.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)

The 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), N.M received its first F-22 On June 2nd 2008. Four days later the base held an official ceremony to mark the formal beginning of operations for the Raptors. The 49th Fighter Wing has made its mark in military aviation history from World War II through every major military engagement to include more than 80 F-117 Nighthawk missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. With the arrival of the F-22 Raptor at Holloman AFB, the 49th Fighter Wing is definitely the "home of the stealth fighter."

Col. Jeff Harrigian, 49th Fighter Wing commander, steps out of an F-22 Raptor on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., June 2.This is one of the first F-22s assigned to Holloman. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rachel A. Kocin)All the wing's squadrons, including the 7th, 8th and 301st (currently an Air Force Reserve squadron stationed at Luke AFB in Arizona), will be equipped with Raptors and operate from Holloman AFB. More aircraft will begin to roll in the beginning of 2009. According to Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group commander, the wing is planned to be combat ready within 16 months by November 1st, 2009.

"Today we open another chapter in our long-term plan for providing Air Force capabilities to the nation for meeting 21st Century security threats," Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. T. Michael Moseley said. "As you know, this past year we retired the last of our 59 F-117 Nighthawks that have served our nation so well over the years. We're replacing them with vastly more capable Raptors." "The significance of the F-22 coming to Holloman is that we need to have our air superiority fighters ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment's notice," said Chief of Air Force Reserve, Lt. Gen. John Bradley. "We have an F-22 fighter base in the Eastern part of the United States at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and now on the west coast so we can deploy across the Pacific if needed."

A total of 183 production Raptors are currently on contract, and 119 aircraft have been delivered to the U.S. Air Force. Raptors are currently assigned to six U.S. bases. Flight testing takes place at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif. Operational tactics development is ongoing at Nellis AFB, Nev. Pilot and crew chief training takes place at Tyndall AFB, Fla. Operational Raptors are assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va., the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and now the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman AFB, N.M. In the future, Raptors will be based at Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

An F-15 Eagle, F-4 Phantom, F-117 Nighthawk, and F-22 Raptor from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, fly in formation over Holloman Air Force Base, NM during the Holloman Air and Space Expo on October 27. The HASE is a showcase of Air Force capabilities, the 49th Fighter Wing mission and the X Prize Foundation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Russell Scalf)

One of two F-22A Raptors lands at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., June 2. The jets are the first two Holloman-tailed F-22s to arrive on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Michael Means)