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F-22 Raptor News

First flight of Raptor 11

October 3, 2002 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Raptor 11, the first F/A-22 Production Representative Test Vehicle (PRTV) to fly, conducted its maiden flight on September 16, 2002, from the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, GA.
Eight PRTV aircraft - Raptors 10 through 17 - will be delivered to Nellis AFB, Nev., in 2003 for operational testing and tactics development to ensure the F/A-22 meets the U.S. Air Force's warfighting needs. With this successful first flight, a major year 2002 F/A-22 program goal has been satisfied.

Lockheed Martin recently changed its F/A-22 manufacturing process to conduct first flights of each Raptor prior to the application of final finishes; hence most of the aircraft appears to be yellow. This yellow sheen is the aircraft's "undercoat," a layer of primer paint that was applied to protect the jet's structure from the elements and prepare it for the application of final finishes - a layer of low observable, or stealthy, coatings that help the Raptor elude radar detection.

Following this first flight, Raptor 11, will soon undergo the final finishes process, during which the F/A?22's stealth coatings, which include its gray-on-gray camouflage scheme, will be applied. This revised "fly before painting" procedure is done to ensure that any additional work required by the aircraft following its first flight does not negatively impact the Raptor's stealthiness before it is delivered to the Air Force.

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