4/21/2014 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
One of the fiercest fighter squadrons in Air Force history took another step toward its return and inched closer to its ability to project airpower dominance wherever America needs it.
Col. David E. Graff, 325th Fighter Wing commander, declared the 95th Fighter Squadron Initial Operational Capability ready April 8 when the last of 24 F-22 Raptors touched down from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.
"This is another milestone in the long journey of the 95th FS and Team Tyndall towards realizing our ultimate goal of having a combat F-22 squadron, mission ready" said Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert, 95th FS commander.
Declaring the 95th FS "Boneheads" IOC means if called upon, a limited force of F-22s from the unit along with personnel could deploy to support a larger, already pre-positioned force. The squadron remains at this level until additional personnel and equipment arrive over the next few months.
"We have all of our aircraft bed down, but we are still receiving operations and maintenance personnel in addition to a good amount of equipment," Gilbert said. "The most rewarding experience for me has been seeing the hard work everyone is putting in to make the 95th FS and Aircraft Maintenance Units a success."
The journey for the 95th FS will continue next month as the squadron sends personnel and aircraft to participate in COMBAT HAMMER, an air to ground Weapons System Evaluation Program at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
"We are scheduled to drop dozens of bombs amidst a robust training threat" Gilbert said of the mission. "Again, this is another step in the right direction toward Full Operational Capability."
With the current schedule of incoming personnel and equipment, the 95th FS expects to declare FOC this summer, Gilbert said. This next-level of capability means that the entire squadron is capable of deploying to support national security objectives with the most advanced operational fighter in the world if called upon.
"It is an exciting time for everyone at Team Tyndall," Graff said.
With more than 50 F-22s on the flightline, Tyndall can now bring both the 95th FS to the battlefield and continue to train F-22 pilots in the 325th FW "Checkertails."
"Both training and projecting combat airpower in the F-22 provide unique, unrivaled capabilities to our nation," Graff added. "But it could not happen without a large outpouring of support from our neighbors here in Bay County who have been so gracious to reach out to our expanding Tyndall family."
This airpower transfer from Holloman to Tyndall began years ago, but symbolically took place with the 95th FS being reactivated in October 2013. This began a steady influx of personnel to assist in flying, maintaining and supporting the heart of Raptor Nation.
The 95th FS and the 325th FW both have a famed history of air dominance.
From September 1974 to December 2010, the 95th FS trained thousands of fighter interceptor pilots and weapons controllers utilizing the T-33 Shooting Star and the F-15 Eagle. The squadron was the last of three F-15 squadrons to be inactivated at Tyndall. Also the squadron provided vital contributions to the World War II efforts, which resulted in 199 aerial victories, the destruction of more than 400 strategic targets and ultimately being awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation. The 325th Fighter Group received credit for 537 aerial victories during World War II.