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Raptors fly to support STS-117 launch

OVER THE UNITED STATES -- F-22A Raptors line up behind a KC-10 Extender to refuel.  Raptors such as these will be used to conduct Air Patrols in support of STS-117 (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Ben Bloker)

OVER THE UNITED STATES -- F-22A Raptors line up behind a KC-10 Extender to refuel. Raptors such as these will be used to conduct Air Patrols in support of STS-117 (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Ben Bloker)

TYNDALL AI RFORCE BASE, Fla. -- F-22A Raptors have descended on the Space Coast to support STS-117 launch operations as part of Operation NOBLE EAGLE.

Two of the Air Forces' newest air dominance fighters have begun air patrols over Kennedy Space Center and in the greater Cape Canaveral area. The air patrols will continue through the STS-117 launch.

The Raptors are from the 94th Fighter Squadron and assigned to Langley Air Force Bases' 1st Fighter Wing, in Hampton, VA. The 94th FS, along with more than 16 operations locations throughout the U.S., provide Airmen and combat ready aircraft to support and defend national assets as directed by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, as part of Operation NOBLE EAGLE.

Major General Hank Morrow, 1st Air Force and Continental U.S. NORAD Region commander, said the Raptors are a significant deterrent force in America's air defense mission.

"The Raptor's speed, range, maneuverability and lethality are tailor-made for air defense missions that protect America's greatest assets," said General Morrow, "and NASA's manned space program is right at the top."

"Being co-located with the F-22A's primary training wing at Tyndall, I get to see this incredible weapons system in action everyday. It's a great addition to CONR's continuing mission to protect America's airways and national assets," he said.

Air defense sorties are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure public safety while displaying NORAD's rapid response capability. CONR, under its parent command NORAD, has conducted air patrols throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle -- the command's response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Although not in response to any specific threat, the sorties are an important element in the overall homeland defense mission.

For more information contact Mr. Mike Strickler, 1st AF Public Affairs, at 850-541-4411, 850-890-2661, or mike.strickler@tyndall.af.mil. For information on the F-22A Raptor and 94th Fighter Squadron, contact the 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs office at 757-764-2018, or visit www.langley.af.mil.