The Air Force deployed three armed fighter jets from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam over the weekend for what the service called an “irregular air patrol.”

The Federal Aviation Administration contacted the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to request that it deploy the warplanes, according to Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Capt. Veronica Perez.

The 154th Wing launched two F-22 Raptors at about 4 p.m. Sunday and another at approximately 5 p.m.  A KC-135 Stratotanker, which refuels other aircraft in the air during extended flights, also joined the F-22s, Perez said in an email.

However, the Air Force provided no other details about why the FAA asked for the planes or what they were responding to, saying only that the “situation resolved” and the planes returned to base afterward.

“We cannot discuss further specifics of the situation,” said Perez.

180717-F-FS041-0131 JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (July 17, 2018) A 154th Wing Hawaii Air National Guard F-22 Raptor flies behind a 434th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker from Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana, near Hawaii during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, July 17. Twenty-five nations, 46 ships, five submarines, and about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security of the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison/Released)
A Hawaii Air National Guard F-22 Raptor flies off the coast of Oahu during RIMPAC 2018. Courtesy: U.S. Air Force/2018

The last time the FAA requested a support flight from the Oahu-based planes was a 2017 incident in which two F-22s escorted an American Airlines flight from California because of a passenger trying to force his way to the front of the plane. The FBI took the passenger into custody upon landing.

The 154th Wing is part of the Hawaii Air National Guard but works actively with the Air Force and provides most of the islands’ security. It has F-22 pilots on call 24 hours a day at Hickam for rapid-responses to potential threats to the Hawaiian islands.

Many military aviation units across the Pacific region have lately increased their training and operations tempo. The Air Force recently began spreading its planes around the Pacific with frequent flights to airstrips across distant islands.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author