Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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Three armed F-22 fighters launched Sunday from Honolulu at request of FAA

Officials today would not disclose why three missile-armed Hawaii Air National Guard F-22 fighters were scrambled Sunday afternoon for an “irregular air patrol” requested by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The 154th Fighter Wing launched two F-22 Raptors from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at approximately 4 p.m.,” Pacific Air Forces said in an email. “A third was launched at approximately 5 p.m.”

The Hickam-based Air Force command added that the FAA requested that U.S. Indo-Pacific Command “conduct an irregular air patrol and the situation resolved, prompting the fighters and a KC-135 Stratotanker (a refueling plane) to return to base. We cannot discuss further specifics of the situation.”

Indo-Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith referred questions about the incident to its subordinate Pacific Air Forces command.

The FAA was equally cryptic: “We have a close working relationship with the military,” spokesman Ian Gregor said in an email in response to a query asking why the military jets were requested.

In 2017, two armed F-22s were scrambled from Hickam to escort an American Airlines flight bound for Honolulu after a 25-year-old Turkish national opened a restricted door leading to the airfield ramp in Los Angeles and was arrested, but later was allowed to board the flight to Honolulu, officials said at the time.

A few hours into the flight, passengers told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the man was restrained by a flight attendant and passengers as he tried to rush into the first-class section with a blanket over his head.

In Honolulu, the man was handcuffed and escorted off by FBI agents.

The Air Force has F-22s, pilots, maintainers and weapons crews on call 24 hours a day at Hickam to respond to air threats to the Hawaiian islands as part of an air defense alert mission.

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