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F-22 Raptors begin operational in Alaska

August 8, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Ceremonies held at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska today marked the formal beginning of operations for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor in the Pacific region.

Employees at Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor production facility here attach a tail fin to the body of Raptor 4087, the first F-22 to bear the "AK" tail flash.

"There is no doubt that the F-22 is the most advanced and capable operational fighter in the world," said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and F-22 Program General Manager. "The Raptor stands ready to defend America and our allies from one of the most strategic locations on the planet. 90th Fighter Squadron pilots are now flying a fighter that is overwhelmingly effective and relevant worldwide for the next 40 years."

Formed almost 90 years ago during World War I, the 90th FS has the distinction of being the first unit in the Pacific to fly the F-22. Basing Raptors in Alaska underscores America's commitment to the Pacific region. Aircraft can be deployed rapidly from Alaska to anywhere in the world, and with 67,000 square miles in the Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the state is an ideal location for F-22 operations.

Raptors first visited Alaska in 2006 when the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, Va., deployed to participate in Northern Edge, a large-scale, force-on-force exercise. Raptor pilots flew 97 percent of their scheduled missions and achieved an 80-to-1 kill ratio against their Red Air opponents. They also scored direct hits with every 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) air-to-ground weapon dropped, and increased overall situational awareness for the entire Blue Force through the F-22’s integrated avionics. These achievements were key reasons the joint Air Force/contractor F-22 team was awarded the 2006 Robert J. Collier Trophy.

A total of 183 production Raptors are currently on contract, and 106 aircraft have completed final assembly at the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Georgia. A total of 99 F-22s have been delivered. The aircraft has been in operational service with the U.S. Air Force since December 2005.

Raptors are currently assigned to five U.S. bases. Flight testing takes place at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif. Operational tactics development is ongoing at Nellis AFB, Nev. Pilot and crew chief training takes place at Tyndall AFB, Fla. Operational Raptors are assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va. (27th and 94th Fighter Squadrons) and now the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Raptors will also be based at Holloman AFB, N.M., and Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

Additional images:

The first of 40 F-22A Raptors taxis in to park during an arrival ceremony at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska on Aug 09, 2007. [USAF photo by TSgt. Keith Brown]

The tail section of an F-22 Raptor being assigned to Pacific Air Forces is prepared for an unveiling ceremony Aug 3 at the Lockheed Plant in Marietta, Ga. The aircraft, which is still under construction, will be the first of 36 F-22s assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, beginning next year. [Courtesy photo/John Rossino]