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Langley celebrates Raptor's initial operational capability

January 14, 2006 (by Rachel Sherburne) - The 1st Fighter Wing held a ceremony on January 13th at Langley AFB to celebrate the F-22A Raptor's initial operational capability. The event comes after the 27th Fighter Squadron was officially declared IOC on Dec. 15 by Gen. Ronald E. Keys, commander of Air Combat Command.

"We did it!" Ralph D. Heath tells the crowd gathered at Langley AFB on January 13th, 2006 at the F-22A Raptor's initial operating capability ceremony. Mr. Heath is the executive vice president of Lockheed Martin's aeronautical division. The IOC declaration means the Air Force's fifth generation fighter is ready for war. [U.S. Air Force photograph by SrA Austin Knox]

The IOC declaration proves the F-22A is mission ready. The base now has 19 Raptors.

The 27th FS -- the Air Force's oldest fighter squadron -- is now the first operational unit to fly the service's newest fighter aircraft.

"This next generation fighter can now be employed by combatant commanders and the national command authority for various missions both at home and in other areas of responsibility," wing commander Brig. Gen. Burton Field said.

Guest speaker at the event was Gen. John Corley, Air Force vice chief of staff. Dr. James Roche, former Air Force secretary, and retired Gen. John Jumper, former Air Force chief of staff, also attended he event.

"I can't thank each of you enough. You all played a critical role," General Corley said. "Your children and children's children will reap the benefits of the technology (of this aircraft)."

General Field praised the cooperative efforts of the many people it took to see the F-22A reach the milestone.

"This aircraft, and more importantly, the people who have brought it to the realm of operational flying, deserve to celebrate and be celebrated," General Field said.

by 2nd Lt. Rachel Sherburne
1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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