Friday, May 04, 2012

Air Force accepts final F-22 Raptor

A crowd that included Air Force leadership, senators and congressional representatives, executives and plant personnel from the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Corporation attended a ceremony dedicating the delivery of the final F-22 Raptor in Marietta, Ga., May 2, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Peek)

by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Gaston, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

MARIETTA, Ga. (AFNS) -- Senior Air Force officials attended a ceremony here May 2 commemorating the delivery of the final F-22 Raptor to the service.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz was joined by Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and other industry, Air Force and civilian leaders as they were welcomed to Dobbins Air Reserve Base and the Lockheed Martin Marietta plant for the event.

The final delivery completes the Air Force's fleet of 195 F-22s. The Raptor is a key component of the Global Strike Task Force and is unmatched by any fighter aircraft due to its speed, stealth and maneuverability, according to Air Force officials.

During his remarks at the ceremony, Schwartz said the delivery represents an important element in the Air Force's overall modernization effort.

"Thank you to all of the partners in industry and government that made this occasion a reality," the general said. "I especially want to pay tribute to the line workers and engineers whose technical expertise, attention to detail and commitment to our nation's defense transformed an innovative notion into America's first 5th generation fighter aircraft."

When it was time to unveil the final F-22, the hangar doors rose and cheers from the assembled guests and workers erupted.

Robert Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and chief executive officer, said the very existence of the F-22 has altered the strategic landscape forever.

"It is also fair to say that, along the way, the F-22 has had a fair number of challenges and a fair number of critics," Stevens said. "But let's not fail to take note today of the number of nations, who rank among either competitors or adversaries, who are frantically trying to replicate what you have done."

The final F-22, tail number 4195, will be flown to its new unit at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska.