News: 199th, 19th Fighter Squadrons team up to retake ACA mission
Story by Staff Sgt. Nathan Allen
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- F-22 Raptor pilots from the 19th and 199th Fighter Squadrons here brought home a familiar mission Dec. 6 when they retook the responsibility of guarding Hawaii’s skies through the Aerospace Control Alert mission.
On Aug. 6, 2010, the Montana Air National Guard’s 186th Fighter Squadron from the 120th Fighter Wing based in Great Falls, gave the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th FS a “breather” as they transitioned from the F-15 Eagle to the F-22 Raptor. Since then, the 199th FS has worked to posture itself to retake the mission, with the help of a total force integration partnership with the recently stood-up 19th FS owned and operated by active duty Airmen of the 15th Wing.
To fulfill the ACA mission, the squadrons will have pilots, maintainers, and weapons crews on call 24/7 ready to respond at a moment’s notice against threats to the Hawaiian Islands. The squadrons and the aircraft they operate are considered “initially operationally capable,” meaning they are fully qualified and manned to fulfill alert requirements as well as Pacific Command objectives to deploy anywhere worldwide with a limited number of assets.
Lt. Col. Mark Ladtkow, 199th FS commander, said the down time during the transition from the F-15 to the F-22 has been “bittersweet.”
“It’s our mission … we work and live here in Hawaii, so to not be able to perform your state mission, homeland defense, is a little bit saddening. But it was sweet because [after switching to the F-22] we can now stand up our capability with the F-22 and regain that homeland defense mission.”
Lt. Col. Robert Jackson, 19th FS commander, said choosing 1200 Zulu on Dec. 7 as the time in which to retake the ACA mission was no coincidence.
“As an American, I know that date, 7 December, is important not only for Hawaii but for the United States. It’ll be a proud day as Americans and as members of the military in Hawaii to take back over that responsibility for top cover for the state of Hawaii.”
As with many units within the 154th and 15th Wings, the two fighter squadrons have employed a TFI structure to get to where they are today. As such, the two commanders credit many accomplishments to their units’ ability to work together seamlessly.
“We’ve had a number of significant milestones,” Ladtkow said. “We’ve had the successful delivery of all 18 of our aircraft. We’ve been able to show throughout multiple exercises the ability to generate and mobilize the aircraft and its associated equipment, as well as operate from a temporary duty location and then be able to return with all those personnel … we have the best total force integration organization in the United States Air Force.”