Wednesday, December 23, 2009

8th Fighter Squadron flagship arrives

by Staff Sgt. Sanjay Allen, 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- The 8th Fighter Squadron received its first of 20 F-22 Raptors Dec. 21 here.

The arrival of 8th FS flagship, a Langley Air Force Base Raptor, which came from maintenance in Palmdale, Calif., starts the next chapter of the "Black Sheep's" storied history that started in 1941 when the squadron was assigned to the 49th Pursuit Group, and during World War II, their pilots amassed 207 aerial victories.

"Air dominance," said Lt. Col. Craig Baker, 8th FS commander, relating how the F-22 fits into Holloman's history. "The F-22 builds on what previous generations of air superiority fighters have established in the 8th -- a positive kill ratio. The fifth generation F-22 is far superior to any enemy aircraft today. U.S. Air Force pilots, the F-22 and its psychological effects all contribute to maintain that positive kill ratio [which is] a must to gaining and maintaining air superiority."

Colonel Baker assumed command of the squadron Sept. 25 after a brief period of inactivity. The 8th has not had any aircraft assigned to it since the F-117 retired in April 2008. The pilots and maintainers will work hand-in-hand with the 7th Fighter Squadron as a "super squadron" until the unit deploys next summer. When that happens, the squadrons' roles will reverse.

Working together with Lt. Col. Mike Hernandez, 7th FS commander, as a super squadron has ran like a well-oiled machine since the two commanders have a history of working together.

"Pigpen (Colonel Hernandez) and I have worked together since 1999 ... so luckily our policies, our thoughts, our tactics and opinions generally fall in-line together," Colonel Baker said. "His opinions for the squadron are the ones that I share, so it makes it relatively easy."

The 7th FS and 8th FS have been working together since 1941.

The nickname, the Black Sheep, dates back to 1943, when the 49th Fighter Group was transitioning from the P-47 Thunderbolt to the P-38 Lightning. The 8th FS was the last of the three squadrons to receive the P-38 aircraft and pilots began calling them the Black Sheep. The name has remained through various conflicts, base changes and airframe changes.

Previously, 8th FS pilots have flown the F-117, F-15, F-4, F-80, P-51 and P-38.