The first overseas deployment of America's newest fighter aircraft ended when the stealthy planes arrived here May 11.12-05-2007 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- The first wave of F-22 Raptors from the 27th Fighter Squadron returned from Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of a three-month air and space expeditionary force deployment where the squadron flew more than 685 sorties.
"The mission still isn't over for us," said Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver, 27th FS commander. "But so far, we accomplished several amazing tasks making it not only operationally successful but also historical."
While deployed, the 27th FS pilots along with pilots from the Virginia Air National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing flew several missions with the Air Force AWACS and 18th Wing KC-135 Stratotankers, and with the Navy, Marine Corps and Japanese Air Self Defense Force.
"Working together with the other units made us a much stronger asset to the United States' mission," said Colonel Tolliver. "Now that we have experience working together, it gives us that better edge in combat."
Langley's pilots and maintainers also worked closely with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force and the squadron hosted four open houses, allowing local servicemembers to view the Raptor.
"The Japanese were professional and competent," said the commander. "Never again can we bring our Raptors to Japan and say it's a first. It was historic for everyone."
The remaining aircraft and squadron members will arrive next week.
Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Vernon Young