Fighter Jet News

F-22 Raptor News

F-22 Raptor team delivers the last developmental flight-test aircraft to USAF

June 3, 2003 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - The F-22 industry team has delivered Raptor 4008 - the program's dedicated low-observable, or stealth, reliability and maintainability flight-test and evaluation aircraft - to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Raptor 08 arrived at Edwards late Friday, May 31. It is the last Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD), or developmental flight- test, aircraft to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force.

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 by Kevin Robertson]

Once at Edwards, Raptor 08 will be carefully monitored to determine the resistance of the aircraft's stealth coatings to both inclement weather as well as the usual wear-and-tear combat aircraft undergo while being operated and maintained in field conditions over a period of time. Despite the super sophisticated nature of the F-22 and its stealth technology, the Raptor is designed to be easily maintained on the ramp, adjacent to the runway, in a manner similar to today's conventional fighters.

"I am tremendously proud of, and would like to enthusiastically thank, everyone who had a hand in helping to deliver Raptor 08," said Robert Rearden, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. vice president and F-22 program general manager. "Raptor 08 will now join the ongoing flight-test activities at Edwards Air Force Base and is on track to support the U.S. Air Force's Dedicated Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (DIOT&E) activities, scheduled to begin next year."

Team Raptor is currently working under two previous production contracts to build 23 F-22s. In addition, nine test aircraft already have been built to support the program's EMD phase. Eight more Production Representative Test Vehicles (PRTVs) also are 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, Nev., starting next year. To date, the F-22 program has accumulated approximately 1,900 flight-test hours during almost 850 flight-test sorties.