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The future seen at Hill

May 18, 2006 (by Mitch Shaw) - The future of Hill took flight on Friday afternoon as the first of 18 F-22 Raptors to receive modification work at the base was finished.

The first F-22A Raptor to be modified by the technicians at Hill AFB in Utah was finished ahead of schedule. [USAF photo]

The aircraft arrived at the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Wing March 31 to receive minor modifications that enhanced its night refueling capabilities. The modifications make the most dominant plane in the sky, even more formidable.

"The plane is awesome; it is overwhelmingly the best airplane in the air," said Dennis Haines, Lockheed Martin's F-22 vice president of sustainment. "It has superior handling characteristics, speed, stealthing, and with its sensors, it can see and not be seen."

Ogden Air Logistics Center commander Maj. Gen. Kevin Sullivan said that, thanks to great teamwork, the plane arrived at Hill earlier than most expected.

"This is a new era at the Ogden Air Logistics Center as we deliver the first F-22," General Sullivan said. "We didn't expect this airplane to show up here for another year. It took great teamwork to accelerate this process."

The technological advancements seen in the Raptor represent a giant leap in war fighting capabilities and signifies the future of not only Hill, but the entire Air Force as a whole.

"We have just progressed right through technology and the history of aviation here at Hill," said Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who spoke in a ceremony Friday honoring the historical event. "This plane represents the next generation in technology and keeps Hill relevant."

The partnership between Hill and Lockheed Martin means an additional workload at Hill that will keep the base and surrounding communities economically stable for many years to come, Governor Huntsman said.

"This should answer fairly definitively where the future of this base lies," Governor Huntsman said. "It says that we are secure as an Air Force base which means the economy in this region of the state is secure as well."

The governor added, "You can see the long term mission of Hill taking shape and form around this new generation of fighters. This is important because of what Hill means to this community. Many from the Pentagon, right up to the highest level, have told me that Hill AFB is a great environment that has the ultimate quality of life."

The F-22 Raptor is the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft and according to an Air Force fact sheet on the aircraft, the F-22 "cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft."

"We don't ever want to go into a conflict on an even basis," Mr. Haines said. "We want our men and women to be able to go in there and dominate the sky. The F-22 will do that and therefore maintain peace."

The 309th Maintenance Wing will continue the minor modification work on the Air Force's newest fighter. The wing is scheduled to work two F-22s per month until 2007 when that number is expected to increase to three or four jets per month.

Friday's delivery of the first F-22 produced at the Ogden ALC marked a real milestone in the center's history, said Col. Art Cameron, 309th Maintenance Wing commander.

"What's equally as important is that it was accomplished through a partnership with Lockheed --Lockheed and Ogden mechanics and supervisors working shoulder to shoulder to make it happen," Colonel Cameron said. "Both parties shared a common goal -- to modify and return a high quality product back to the warfighter on cost and ahead of schedule."

He added, "We're very proud to have been a part of that and look forward to its continued success. We are also extremely proud to be known as a Raptor Base."

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