August 28, 2002 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - F-22 4003 became the first Raptor used to successfully fire a radar-guided AIM-120 missile while flying faster than the speed of sound.
A guided AIM-120 Advanced-Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile deploys from the F-22. [Photo by Steve Zapka]
During the Aug. 21 test mission from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Raptor 4003 launched the air-to-air missile while flying Mach 1.2 at 12,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. This latest success shows that the F-22 flight-test program continues to make progress and that the aircraft continue to meet or exceed their technical performance requirements. At present, seven F-22s are engaged in some sort of developmental test effort. The ninth aircraft, Raptor 4009 - the last developmental test aircraft delivered to the U.S. Air Force - is expected to join the flight-test fleet at Edwards AFB
later this year. To date, the F-22 flight test program has achieved more than 2,273 test hours accumulated during more than 1,021 test missions.