Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Air Force News From New Mexico

Bye, Bye Black Sheep: Airmen at Holloman AFB, N.M., held an inactivation ceremony for the 8th Fighter Squadron. The "Black Sheep" are standing down after less than two years of operating F-22s due to the Air Force's Raptor fleet consolidation plan, which calls for Holloman to lose its two squadrons' worth of F-22s and take on two F-16 squadrons for training. "We flew 2,500 sorties and over 3,000 hours. That's more than 10 sorties a day, with less than nine F-22s," said Lt. Col. Craig Baker, 8th FS commander, in highlighting his unit's accomplishments during the inactivation ceremony. The inactivation takes effect on July 15. Some of the 8th FS' F-22s are going, for the time being, to Holloman's 7th FS, while others will bolster the ranks of F-22 units at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; JB Langley-Eustis, Va.; and Nellis AFB, Nev. The 7th FS' F-22s will eventually shift to Tyndall AFB, Fla. This is the second time in the 8th FS' 61-year-history that the unit will go on inactive status. The first time was in April 2008 following the retirement of the F-117 Nighthawk. The Black Sheep have flown 15 airframes throughout their history, and they dropped the first bombs in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom when they flew F-117s. (Holloman release by A1C Siuta B. Ika) (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eileen Payne/Released)
There's a short video at the "Holloman release" link, above.  I gave that vid a look and the first thing that struck me was "it's painful to watch a unit retire its colors."  I've never personally witnessed a unit inactivation, at least not any unit to which I was currently assigned when it ceased to exist.  I DO have the dubious honor of stating all four radar squadrons I served in have been deactivated (the 669th, the 750th, the 761st, and the 780th) and their physical locations have nearly deteriorated into nothingness.  It's a true fact you can never go home again, particularly when "home" doesn't exist any longer.  The 8FS may live again sometime in the future but it's a pretty safe bet there will never be another radar squadron, because time and technology marches on... relentlessly.


  1. I think I know how you feel. Basic training isn't where is was. The Navy's no longer on Treasure Island. The ship I was in was sold to the Pakistanis, who managed to sink it.

  2. Well, basic training is still at Lackland for us other blue-suiters, but that's about it as far as my career goes. I didn't mention the surveillance/listening sites on the periphery of the ol' Evil Empire where I served; those are gone, too... replaced by satellites. But at least no one sank any of my former "homes!"

  3. I worked for 35 years on the one aircraft having started as an 18 year old on brand new aircraft (fresh from the Burbank factory). When the Navy retired the S-3 I was out of S-3 work as well. It was tough going to the Navy deactivation ceremony for that. Missed my first ship being deactivated, the USS Independence is waiting to be scrapped into a whole bunch of something else.

    Oh well, time marches on.

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  4. Something else I noticed from the article that you quote: ""We flew 2,500 sorties and over 3,000 hours."

    Hate to be picayune but 2500 sorties or flights and "over" 3,000 hours is less than an hour per flight. I thought only the fabled F/A-18 had worse flight hour rating. You can't hardly get stick time in less than an hour of flying. I hope the "over" is maybe by the thousands more. Maybe this is why they can't fly this thing all the way to where the action is and get some real combat time?

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  5. I hate to hear they're deactivating the old "Black Sheep" squadron. I first heard of it through the Robert Conrad TV show from the 70s and your post caused me to do a quick wiki check on all that the real squadron has done over the years. From F4U Corsairs to F22s, quite a history.

  6. Sadly, the F-22 emptied the treasury and was 10 years late. The system managers should be lined-up and shot dead like all the other farm animals.

    Sort of like the NSA spending billions on a computer system that in the end, didn't work.

    I'm afraid the engineer schools have not kept-up with the lawyer schools. I work with fresh engineers, and all I can say is their common sense is greatly lacking.

  7. Jimmy: I can see how losing the S-3 would bum you out. "Sad" doesn't even begin to describe that. As for the F-22's flight hours/sortie rate... funny you should mention that, coz there's this in today's AFA Daily Report (my emphasis):

    About That F-22 Sortie Record: April's Daily Report entry on the 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, setting a single-day sortie record spawned much reader interest. Accordingly, we asked for more detail than in the Air Force's original release. It turns out that the F-22 unit's sortie record didn't apply to all USAF fighters or even the F-22 fleet, but rather just to F-22s flying out of Kadena AB, Japan. "The Bulldogs flew 30 sorties in a day, which stands as the most flown to date in a single day by an F-22A unit deployed to Kadena," Maj. Jon Eberlan, commander of Elmendorf's 3rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, told the Daily Report. The expeditionary Raptor unit comprised 15 F-22s and approximately 320 airmen, both active duty and Reservists. Elmendorf officials declined to provide more information on the sorties "for operational security purposes . . . because it can reveal weapon system capabilities." We've updated our original entry.

    There's additional info (links) in the piece I quoted if you're interested... there's a link to the Daily Report in my sidebar.

    Dan: Not the same Black Sheep, I'm afraid; Pappy Boyington's Black Sheep were Marines. The Wiki's description of the Air Force Black Sheep is here. Both units had similar origins but it was the Marines that got the teevee show.

    Anon: The F-22 is an expensive piece of hardware, to be sure. But it's also the ONLY 5th Gen fighter in the world, at the moment. Defense, and most specifically fighter aircraft, is kinda like that old hot rodding maxim: "Speed (capability) costs. How fast do ya wanna go?"

  8. I know how the folks are feeling; it really sucks to be involved with your units deactivation. Sadly, I went through it twice directly, and twice more indirectly.

    There always seems to be one squadron you really relate with. For me it was the mighty Rude Rams (34th FS)(my call sign while assigned there was...wait for it...Rude One...), which was deactivated last year.

    I wish all the Black Sheep the best of luck.

  9. Sadly, I went through it twice directly, and twice more indirectly.

    Ouch. That had to hurt. I came close once, Rude, in that I was stationed at Wakkanai AS, Japan when Security Service announced the station closure. I got shipped out pretty quickly to Turkey, though, and missed all the shut-down and exit angst.

  10. Yeah, it can be a real rollercoaster ride. On the plus side, I did make off with a few cool "artifacts" from them!

    Ah Turkey... I remember my first trip there. We were briefed there would be a woman behind every tree. Stepped off the plane and didn't see a single tree! (at first!)


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