The United States Air Force remains the only operator of two fifth-generation fighter aircraft, and earlier this month both the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIs were able to conduct training operations together over the skies of Vermont.
It was a unique opportunity for two of the world’s most capable aircraft to go head-to-head in what might have been mock dogfights.
Four F-22 Raptors from Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia headed to the heart of the Yankee territory to train with the 158th Fighter Wing (158 FW) of the Vermont Air National Guard, which is stationed at Burlington Air National Guard Base, Burlington. Beginning in September 2019, the 158th FW had begun to replace its aging F-16 Fighting Falcons with the highly capable F-35 Lightning II.
The Air Force’s F-22s arrived in Burlington last Friday, and conducted training operations with the F-35s beginning on Saturday.
“We are excited to take part in this integrated training opportunity with our fifth gen partners from Virginia,” said Col Nathan Graber, 158th Operations Group Commander. “Our units represent the tip of the sword in the high-end fight, and these missions allow us to hone those skills that make us a more effective force against any potential adversary.”
Making Some Noise
While it gave aviation buffs a rare opportunity to see the two highly advanced aircraft in the skies at the same time, not everyone in the Green Mountain State was happy however to see the arrival of the F-22s for a weekend visit to New England.
The 158th Operations Group announced via the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), which is used to publish Department of Defense-wide press releases, that residents might expect a little more noise than usual from the two fifth-generation aircraft operating together.
Noise has been a serious issue to those who live near the base, and the local news outlet VTDigger.com noted that the “F-22s can be 9 to 22 decibels louder than F-16s, the jets that the Vermont Air National Guard replaced in 2019, making them two to three times louder to the human ear.”
The Vermont Air National Guard issued the alert and noted that the excess noise would be limited.
“Due to operational requirements the F-22s may take-off in afterburner Saturday morning, November 6. Upon conclusion of scheduled training with the 158th Fighter Wing they will likely return directly to their home station without returning to BTV,” the DVIDS release reported.
However, some locals were vocal in their displeasure.
“As if the daily bombardment of the F-35s was not enough, now your friends, the F-22s, are coming to play war games in my very populated community,” Malina Rivera wrote.
“This is the second time in a month we have had to deal with additional aircraft interference with our lives,” Ann Goering commented. “This is not consistent with prior [Vermont Air National Guard] use of the airspace over our region. This was never brought up with the public in any presentation.”
Maj. Meghan Smith, a public affairs officer for the Vermont Guard, told VTDigger.com the flight training program “requires that we train with other aircraft. For years we’ve trained jointly with multiple different platforms, both locally and across the country and will continue to do so.”
In addition, one individual, Mark Kruger responded to the complaints, noting, “You move into an area with not only commercial airport, but a Air National Guard Base THEN complain about the noise ? Genious. [sic]”
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.