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First F/A-22 Raptor bound for Langley Air Force Base rolled out

October 27, 2004 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - Lockheed Martin rolled Raptor 4041 out of its final production assembly facility today, marking a milestone in the F/A-22 program. Aircraft 4041 is the initial F/A-22 for the Air Force's first operational, combat-ready squadron of Raptors.

The application of advanced avionics software in the F/A-22 is key to the Raptor's revolutionary performance advantage over any other fighter. In the air-to-air arena, the stealthy F/A-22 will be virtually unseen on radar, while its sophisticated array of sensors and advanced radar will allow it to reach out and strike adversary aircraft undetected from long range. The advanced software package will also enhance the Raptor's ability to deliver precision air-to-surface weapons on target, day or night, in any weather. [U.S. Air Force photo]

Once complete with post-production preparations and flights, aircraft 4041 will be accepted by the Air Force and delivered to the 1st Fighter Wing's 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., for use as a combat dedicated aircraft. Previously delivered F/A-22s are now being flown by Air Force pilots at Edwards, Nellis and Tyndall Air Force Bases for pilot training, tactics and testing to support the growing fleet.

More than a year ago, parts from nearly 1,000 suppliers and sub-assembly facilities across 43 states began arriving at the Marietta plant as ship 4041 began its journey through the final assembly process. The production of an F/A-22 represents a tremendous effort, culminating in a transformational and revolutionary aircraft.

"All of this work is for one reason, to maintain America's air dominance role for decades to come," said Rob Weiss, deputy vice president for F/A-22 Business Development.

The Raptor's combination of stealth, integrated avionics, maneuverability and supercruise (supersonic flight without afterburner) gives the F/A-22 "first look, first shot, first kill" capability against any potential enemy aircraft and anti-access surface-to-air threats. The F/A 22 is designed to provide not just air superiority but to shorten wars and save lives.

Raptor 4041 will arrive at Langley in early 2005. The squadron will enter initial operational capability later in the year.

"As we roll out the first combat dedicated F/A-22 Raptor, we know its lethality, technological advances and superior performance will be placed in the hands of the best airmen and warriors on the planet," Weiss said, as he addressed 1st Fighter Wing representatives and Lockheed Martin production line employees. "May its presence alone provide deterrence … but if deterrence fails, we know it will provide a level of air dominance never seen in history."

The 1st Fighter Wing has a long history serving as a leader in air superiority and stands ready for the arrival of the first F/A-22 Raptor. The 27th Fighter Squadron is the oldest fighter squadron in the United States Air Force. As one of three squadrons of the 1st Fighter Wing, the squadron is tasked to perform air superiority missions. The 27th Fighter Squadron is also the first squadron at Langley to receive the F/A-22.

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