Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, USA, lost its last Raptor this week, while concluded its first full week of its new fighter life. After having to send its F-22 Raptor jets to Tyndall AFB in Florida due to an USAF reorganisation, the 54th Fighter Group is forced to settle on a legacy aircraft: the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The first three F-16s soared through the skies over the Tularosa Basin on 1 April 2014, before landing on the runway in preparation of F-16 pilot training the 54th Fighter Group will do as a tenant unit for Luke AFB in Arizona. By the end of 2015 Holloman will have two F-16 fighter squadrons with at least 48 aircraft amongst them.
During the last decades Holloman was reduced from one of the main air force bases of the United States to a training base for US and German Air Forces (Tornado). Back in 1992 Holloman became the home of the first ever mass produced stealth fighter-bomber: the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk. Transferring to the F-22 Raptor, than seemed logic.
The F-117A was merely a strike aircraft, making Holloman a great location away from the direct air defence front line. But with the F-22 reportedly having superb fighter capabilities as well, positioning this newest stealth fighter strategically smarter to the borders of the country – such as Florida – the aerial combat function of the Raptor and its reaction to threats can be put to better use.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger