The Hawaii Air National Guard has received a third F-22 Raptor fighter on its way to obtaining 20 of what the Air Force considers to be its most advanced weapons system.
The latest F-22, tail number “064,” recently made the trip to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after receiving depot maintenance at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, officials said.
In early July, the first two Raptors arrived in Hawaii and are being used as maintenance training jets. The next Raptor arrival is expected in January and the remainder should touch down in Hawaii throughout 2011, officials said.
The stealth fighters can operate at super cruise speed of more than 1,200 mph without afterburners and use angles and radar-absorbing materials to maintain a low radar signature.
As part of an “associate unit” partnership with the active-duty Air Force, the Air Guard “owns” the aircraft and receives assistance maintaining and flying the aircraft from the active-duty 15th Wing at Hickam.
Forty of the F-22s are based at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.
The U.S. is increasing its Air Force and naval assets in the Pacific to maintain an overmatch capability to deter North Korea and as China and Russia build up their militaries.
F-22 units make frequent deployments to Guam and Japan, and the Hawaii-based aircraft are expected to follow in that pattern.