Boneheads above the Eifel
Report and images by Danny Reijnen
September 9, 2018
With the arrival of the last of the 13 F-22A Raptors on 13th of august, the 95th Fighter Squadron, part of the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, started a three week deployment at Spangdahlem Air Force Base in Germany. This deployment is also known as “Iron Hand 2018”. The 95th Fighter Squadron, proudly named the “Boneheads”, is one of the chosen few operators of the F-22A Raptor, the U.S. Air Force’s newest and most advanced air superiority aircraft. After being inactivated on the 21st of September 2010, flying the aging F-15 models, the 95th had the honour of being reactivated on the 11th of October 2013 as an F-22A Raptor squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
480th Fighter Squadron
Spangdahlem Air Force Base is the home of the 480th FS. The 480th began its service with the 52rd Tactical Fighter Wing. The 480th started flying F-16C/D Fighting Falcon and became the USAF’s first squadron to be equipped with the Block 50 F-16s in 1993. After being inactivated on 1st of October 1994 as part of consolidation of USAF forces in Germany, the 480th was reactivated on 13th of August 2010. As USAF Europe only F-16 Block 50 squadron, The Warhawks provide the Supreme Headquarters Allied Forces and USAF Europe commanders with dedicated suppression of enemy air defense, air interdiction, counter-air and close air support capabilities.
Together with the 480th Fighter Squadron the pilots from the 95th will take part in training exercises with allies in the region and will also forward deploy from Germany to operational locations in other NATO nations to maximize training opportunities and strengthening alliances, along with deterring aggression in the region.
On the 16th of August a media day was being held at Spangdahlem Airbase. After a word of welcome, Colonel Jason E. Bailey, Commander of the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, stated it is a great event to host the 95th FS at Spangdahlem Air Base. It is fantastic to integrate 4th generation with 5th generation aircraft above the European skies he said.
General Tod D. Wolters, Commander U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, was also attending the media day at Spangdahlem. Wolters stated that deploying 5th generation fighters toward Europe is a perfect way to get the 5th generation fighters known with the European skies and have them train with other allies flying 4th generations fighters to strengthen all the forces which nowadays exist on the battlefield.
“And if we anticipate in a potential future conflict where we have to go to, and use these two fighters that you can see in this hanger, a 4th and 5th asset, I want to make sure we have practiced as much as we can, to make sure that these assets which are going to get involved in this conflict, are as well trained and as well-versed in each other’s capabilities as possible”, he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael P. Richard, Commander of the 480th Fighter Squadron explained that the F-22’s and F-16’s from the 480th flew both red air missions while fighting against allied fighters. Allied countries had the possibility to claim fighting time with the F-22’s during their stay. Richard said it is hard to fly against the F-22 but it is a perfect way to learn to operate the F-22 and the Block 50 F-16 together.
Missions of the 95th FS
While being deployed, the F-22’s flew various programs which included short deployments abroad towards Norway, Italy, Greece, Spain, Romania and Poland.
In Norway, the F-22’s had the opportunity to fly with the newly delivered F-35A’s from the Norwegian Air Force.
Squadron Commander Lieutenant Colonel Johua M. Biedermann stated that on the day the mediaday was being held, the Raptors were flying dogfighting missions against Dutch F-16’s, French Mirages and German Typhoons in one single mission.
The 95th brought enough personnel to fly the F-22’s in a consisted rate, Biedermann said. The F-22’s visited Larissa Airforce Base in Greece, where the 337 squadron, flying the F-16C/D Block 52, is based. Biedermann stated that this visit was a strategic type visit to get pilots known with unfamilair airspace, airfield and controlers. This was the first visit of the F-22 in Greece. To conclude the visit, they performed dogfighting missions with Greek fighters.
General Wolters could not say if F-22’s will be based at Spangdahlem in the future. ”Every day we are improving the readiness of this installation. If you look outside at the ramp you can witness that many constructions projects are ongoing, which indicates that we are improving our readiness”, General Wolters explained.
General Wolters was clear in one thing;
“Because we execute missions and deployments like this, we can get more effective and project peace in the best possible way.”
Photos from the media day:
Photos taken off base: