TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 507th Air Refueling Wing here played a critical role Nov. 5 in Hurricane Michael recovery by ensuring one of the repaired F-22 Raptors flew safely from Tyndall AFB, Florida, to Hill Air Force Base’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex, Utah.
Maintenance and operations group personnel at Tinker AFB quickly answered Air Mobility Command’s call to provide a critical air refueling capability for ACC’s number one maintenance priority.
“We were so thankful to have your team refuel this Raptor,” said Col. Argie Moore, Task Force Raptor lead.
Moore is the senior aircraft maintenance officer on temporary duty at Tyndall AFB from ACC Headquarters. She and her total force team of more than 50 active duty and Air National Guard Airmen as well as civilian contractors repaired the Tyndall F-22 Raptors on-station.
One of the F-22s requested tanker support for flight to the depot in Utah from the 465th Air Refueling Squadron at Tinker. Senior Master Sgt. Ben Brent and the current operations team quickly came together to coordinate between ACC, AMC, Tyndall AFB and Air Force Reserve Command to plan the high-priority mission.
“The major concern was if they needed to land or divert for fuel,” said Brent, 465th ARS NCO in charge of current operations. “It went really well, and I talked to the crew after they landed and they said the F-22s were right where they needed to be and the mission was a success.”
This mission is known as a ferry mission, which allows the KC-135R Stratotanker to fly with the receiving aircraft for the entire refueling track in order to provide continuous aerial refueling. It is one of the safest ways to ensure an airplane gets to its location.
Okie 81, a single KC-135R Stratotanker out of Tinker AFB, launched at 10:35 a.m. Nov. 5, and met a pair F-22 Raptors over Louisiana and ferried the F-22s all the way over Oklahoma. The F-22s then flew the rest of the way to Hill AFB.
“This is what we do,” Brent said. “We were glad to help.”
Getting the F-22 Raptor back to the depot was a big win for the Task Force Raptor maintenance team working at Tyndall, but not the only success.
Local leadership wanted to let Tyndall Airmen focus on their families and rebuilding, so they brought in teams from other locations to augment the 325th Maintenance Group at Tyndall AFB.
Most of the Airmen were from the 1st Maintenance Group, Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Many of the crew chiefs were from Tyndall AFB, and contractors from Lockheed Martin also helped in the recovery efforts.
“We did what the Air Force has trained us to do and that is to fix the aircraft,” Moore said. “We had 24-hour operations. We didn’t have any other distractions. All our concern was just about fixing jets.”
The Task Force Raptor maintenance team came up with the plan of recovering the F-22s, obtaining necessary equipment and parts, and getting the jets back in the air.