March 1, 2002 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - The F-22 Raptor industry team has received a $215.3 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to purchase long-lead items necessary for the fabrication and assembly of 23 additional air dominance fighters during production Lot 3.
The F/A-22 Raptor, developed at Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the replacement for the F-15 Eagle air-superiority fighter and will become operational this century. It combines stealth design with the supersonic, highly maneuverable, dual-engine, long-range requirements of an air-to-air fighter, and it also will have an inherit air-to-ground capability, if needed. The F/A-22's integrated avionics gives it first-look, first-shot, first-kill capability that will guarantee U.S. air dominance for the next three decades. [U.S. Air Force photo by Kevin Robertson]
Earlier this month, the Bush administration requested funding from Congress to purchase those 23 aircraft as part of the fiscal 2003 defense budget. The Pentagon announced this contract on Feb. 15.
"Long-lead items are aircraft components that have lengthy raw material lead times, or require extensive fabrication time due to their complexity," Bob Rearden, F-22 program vice president and general manager, said. "As a result, orders for such items are placed far in advance of their delivery dates to ensure timely arrival when needed during the aircraft's assembly phase." Long-lead items to be purchased under this contract include bulk titanium, landing gear components, cockpit canopy transparencies, and composite pivot shafts used to attach the aircraft's horizontal stabilizers to the Raptor's tail assembly.
If purchased as planned -- pending congressional authorization and appropriations necessary to build the 23 aircraft -- these Raptors (tail numbers 4041 through 4067) are scheduled for delivery to Langley AFB
, Va., by the end of 2005. The aircraft will be assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing, where they will be ready to support, as needed, U.S. military operations across the globe.
The U.S. Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is responsible for overseeing the successful execution of this production contract.
Team Raptor is currently working under two previous production contracts to build 23 F-22s. In addition, nine test aircraft have already been built to support the program's Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD
) phase. Eight more Production Representative Test Vehicles (PRTVs) are also in various stages of fabrication and assembly, and will be used following their delivery to the U.S. Air Force for both operational test and evaluation, and tactics development, at Nellis AFB, Nevada, starting next year.
Meanwhile, the F-22 program continues to make progress. Since the start of 2002, key program activities accomplished include:
- Accumulation by Raptor 4000 -- the program's non-flying, fatigue-test airframe -- of 5,232 simulated flight-test hours, 65.1 percent of the F-22's anticipated first 8,000 flight-hour life cycle.
- Execution of the flight-test program's first 9g maneuvers.
- The program's second successful guided air-to-air missile shot against a live target, conducted by Raptor 4005.
- Delivery of F-22 avionics software suite Block 3.1.0 to Raptor 4006.
- Delivery of Raptor 4007 to the F-22 Combined Test Force (CTF) at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif.
- First flight of Raptor 4008 -- the next to last EMD aircraft -- at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.'s facility in Marietta, Ga.
- First F-22 flight by Boeing test pilot Fred Knox, a former Boeing X-32 Joint Strike Fighter demonstrator pilot, who has now joined the F-22 CTF.
- Accumulation of more than 1,700 flight-test hours during more than 750 flight-test sorties.