October 17, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin rolled out the first combat capable F-22 stealth fighter destined for basing and operations in the Pacific Rim yesterday.
Raptor 4087 completed its final assembly with Air Force leaders from Alaska and Lockheed Martin employees on hand to mark the event outside the production line in Marietta.
"This F-22 rollout marks another significant milestone for the F-22 program. The Raptor industrial team is proud to continue to produce this revolutionary 5TH Generation stealth fighter for the United States Air Force," said Nick Cessario, vice president and F-22 program deputy general manager. "I know we will all sleep better knowing the F-22 will be flying for at least the next four decades, and is ready to defend our nation if the call comes to send in the Raptors."
Speaking before Lockheed Martin F-22 production employees, Brig. Gen. "Hawk" Carlisle, Commander, 3rd Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, proudly declared, "Great Americans wear all kinds of clothes, some wear military uniforms, some wear suits and ties, while others wear blue jeans and t-shirts while they build the F-22. You are all great Americans and I thank you."
The F-22 dominates any adversary through unmatched performance: stealth, supercruise speed, agility, precision and a complete view of the battlespace achieved with the advanced sensor suite embedded in the aircraft.
The F-22 Raptor is currently assigned to four bases across the United States:
- Testing is conducted at Edwards AFB, Calif.
- Tactics development is ongoing at Nellis AFB, Nev.
- A full squadron of Raptors is based at Tyndall AFB, Fla., for pilot and maintainer training.
- Operational F-22s of the 1st Fighter Wing are assigned to two squadrons at Langley, Va.
Future F-22 bases identified by the United States Air Force include:
- Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
- Holloman AFB, New Mexico
- Hickam AFB, Hawaii
Raptors from Langley deployed to Alaska in June for joint exercise Northern Edge, where the F-22's performance was declared exceptional by Air Force officials who touted the ability of pilots and maintainers to fly a 97% sortie rate; successfully drop and hit 26 of 26 ground targets; and amass an impressive air-to-air kill ratio of 140-0 during the first week of the exercise. The commander of the F-22 squadron remarked this summer that the most impressive outcome of the exercise was the realization by all players of just how much of the battlespace information or situational awareness F-22s saw and could share with other forces. This increased the effectiveness and survivability of all flying with the Raptor.