The 100th F-22 Raptor air dominance fighter has been delivered, by Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT], to the U.S. Air Force in ceremonies here today. The milestone aircraft (Air Force serial number 05-0100) will be assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.
During the ceremony, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne signed the DD-250 form, the official U.S. government acceptance document. The 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf is expected to receive its full complement of 20 F-22s by the fall of 2008.
Starting with the first parts being made, production of each Raptor takes a total span of approximately 30 months. The various parts are sent to the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Ga., for final assembly. With 30 positions on the assembly line in the 3.5 million square foot main production building in Marietta, the elapsed time in the major mate and final assembly process is approximately 12 months.
The forward fuselage of the F-22 is assembled in Marietta. The mid-fuselage, which contains many of the aircraft's subsystems and the weapons bays, arrives in Marietta from the Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The aft fuselage, which contains the equipment and connections needed for installation of the F 22's F-119 engines, designed and built by Pratt & Whitney, arrives from the Boeing facility in Seattle, Wash. After fuselage mate, using laser alignment to ensure a precise fit, the aircraft receives its vertical and horizontal stabilizers, as well as its wings. The verticals are assembled at the Lockheed Martin plant in Meridian, Miss., and Boeing builds the Raptor's fuel-carrying wings.
Raptors are currently assigned to five U.S. bases. Flight testing takes place 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 Langley AFB, Va. and at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Raptors will also be based at Holloman AFB, N.M., and Hickam AFB, Hawaii
The F-22 Raptor aircraft team is the recipient of the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) 2006 Robert J. Collier Trophy, considered America's most prestigious award for aeronautical and space development.
The NAA is the oldest national aviation organization in the United States dedicated to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation in the U.S. The Collier Trophy was established in 1911 and is granted each year "for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America… during the preceding year."
The Raptor Team's nomination package underscored the numerous performance, safety and efficiency dividends the Raptor has provided to U.S. and world aviation through its development, testing and manufacturing phases. The nomination's main focus, however, was the Raptor's overwhelming performance in the demanding 2006 joint military exercise called Northern Edge. During the large-scale, force-on-force exercise, Raptor pilots flew an amazing 97 percent of their scheduled missions, achieved an unheard of 80-to-1 kill ratio against their Red Air "opponents", scored direct hits with 100 percent of their 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition air-to-ground weapons, and increased overall situational awareness for their entire team through the F-22's integrated avionics package.
The Raptor's performance in Northern Edge confirmed that it is the most lethal, reliable, survivable and revolutionary fighter the world has ever seen. U.S. Air Force Raptor pilots who formerly flew legacy fighters say the F-22 is taking military aviation to a whole new level. Just as jet fighters were able to operate "with impunity" against piston-driven aircraft, the F-22 represents a quantum leap in capability and survivability over previous fighters. NAA President and CEO David Ivey said the fighter's performance has "established the unquestionable superiority of the Raptor, a culmination of years of visionary design, rigorous testing, and innovative manufacturing."
Raptor Team members include the U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, BAE Systems and some 1,000 suppliers in 42 states.
The Fighter of the Future
The Air Force's newly operational Raptors, stationed at Langley AFB, Va., are already leaving a powerful impression in the fighter community, officials said. In June, the F-22 was put to the test during Northern Edge 2006, a two-week joint service exercise held in Alaska. The F-22's capabilities were highlighted there during several air-to-air engagements that included facing an opposing force at a 4-to-1 disadvantage.