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Last Raptor reports for duty

May 11, 2012 (by A1C Elizabeth Gaston) - The last F-22 Raptor, tail number 4195, from Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Company left Dobbins Air Reserve Base May 5 to report for duty at its new unit at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska.

The last manufactured F-22A (block 40 no. 10-4195), flown by Lt. Col. Paul Moga, 525th FS commander, touches down at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson flightline on May 5th, 2012. [USAF photo by David Bedard]

This final plane completes the Raptor project with Lockheed Martin and the operational Air Force's multi-role fighter contingent of 187 advanced tactical fighters.

The 195th Raptor was piloted by Lt. Col. Paul Moga, 525th Fighter Squadron commander and accompanied by Raptor number 193, piloted by Col. Dirk Smith, 3rd Wing commander. The 195th and 193rd Raptors will serve as the flagship jets for the group and wing, respectively.

These last two jets will give the wing at a total of 47 Raptors, which is approximately one-third of the Air Force's operational fleet, said Smith.

It took just under eight hours to fly from Dobbins ARB, Ga. to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, according to Dobbins Base Operations. This was a 3,329 mile trip. Along the way, the two F-22s were met by tanker aircraft for aerial refueling.

"We know that Dobbins is going to miss the Raptor," said Moga. "However, we'd like to assure everyone that the jet will be in good hands, and we promise to take care of it. It's kind of like seeing your kids off to college. Now you get to sit back and wait for them to do all the great things you know they're going to do."

The F-22 is expected to have better maintainability, sustainability and be more reliable than past fighters. Achievement of this expectation will reduce man hours needed to fix the aircraft and efficiency associated with scheduled upkeep.

"This is the best jet out there," said Staff Sgt. Damon S. Crawford, dedicated crew chief for Raptor 195 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. "The support is great. It's easy to maintain and often takes care of itself."

The Raptor is the world's only operational 5th-generation fighter, and is expected to ensure continued air-superiority through cutting-edge technology.

Advanced cockpit and sensor design allows pilots to identify, track and neutralize threats before the airplane is detected, using capabilities to attack air or ground targets, according to U.S. Air Force officials.

F-22 engines produce more thrust than any other fighter's engine. "Supercruise" technology utilizes this increase in thrust as well as the sleek aerodynamic design of the F-22 to literally cruise at supersonic speeds (greater than 1.5 Mach) without using the fuel-consuming afterburner that all other fighter aircraft must use.

The F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighter began the Demonstration and Validation phase in 1986. The two competing prototypes of the F-22, the FY-22 and the FY-23, completed testing in 1990 when the FY-22 was selected for development. Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract to build the F-22 in 1991.

Lockheed Martin partnered with the U.S. Air Force, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney to produce the 195 F-22s.

The F-22 Raptor has been hailed as the most advanced weapons system the world has ever seen.

"The Raptor is a great jet," said Smith. "We feel very fortunate in that we get to receive them. We get to fly them, take care of them and execute a very important mission."

Courtesy of 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Additional images:

On May 5th, 2012, the last two F-22s departed from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta, for their new home in Alaska. Raptors 10-4193 and 10-4195 joined other F-22s in the USAF’s 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. [Lockheed Martin photo by Todd R. McQueen]