Lockheed Martin rolls-out final F-22 Raptor

MARIETTA, Ga. (AFNS) — The final F-22 Rap­tor to be built for the U.S. Air Force, tail num­ber 4195, rolled off the Lock­heed Mar­tin Aero­nau­tics assem­bly line dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny Dec. 13 at the company’s Mari­et­ta plant.

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The final F-22 Rap­tor fight­er jet to be pro­duced for the Air Force is dis­played before being rolled off the Lock­heed Mar­tin assem­bly line dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny Dec. 13, 2011, in Mari­et­ta, Ga. The jet is the last of 187 F-22s pro­duced for the Air Force com­plet­ing its oper­a­tional fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Air­man Danielle Pur­nell)
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The fight­er jet is the last of 187 F-22s pro­duced, mark­ing a bit­ter­sweet moment for mem­bers of the F-22 team.

It has been a mem­o­rable jour­ney, said Shan Coop­er, the Lock­heed Mar­tin Aero­nau­tics com­pa­ny vice pres­i­dent and Mari­et­ta site gen­er­al man­ag­er. The first part was cre­at­ed here in 1994. The jet was placed on the assem­bly line in 1995 and then first rolled out in 1997. Today we mark a grad­u­a­tion of sorts as we roll the last F-22 off this assem­bly line and get it ready to go out and defend Amer­i­ca.

“While the Rap­tor itself is eye-water­ing, the peo­ple on Team Rap­tor have made the F-22 what it is today,” Coop­er said.

Lock­heed Martin’s Aero­nau­tics divi­sion employs about 2,000 peo­ple for the F-22 pro­gram at its Mari­et­ta facil­i­ty. Togeth­er, the team built the first 5th gen­er­a­tion fight­er with world-class results.

“You reduced the labor hours by 300 per­cent,” said Jeff Babione, Lock­heed Martin’s F-22 pro­gram man­ag­er. “You’ve deliv­ered 55 zero-defect jets to date, and you have had more than five years of on-time deliv­er­ies.”

Tail No. 4195 is the cul­mi­na­tion of all those suc­cess­es. It is the 195th F-22 to roll off the line and into the Air Force fleet. Eight of those jets were built for devel­op­men­tal pur­pos­es.

The F-22 com­bines stealth, advanced sen­sors and advanced air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons that makes it pos­si­ble for the air­craft to cruise faster than the speed of sound with­out being detect­ed.

How­ev­er, the $143 mil­lion price tag per air­craft, along with the cur­rent state of the econ­o­my and changes in the mil­i­tary require­ments for post Cold-War chal­lenges, lead gov­ern­ment offi­cials to the deci­sion to offi­cial­ly cease pro­duc­tion of the F-22 in 2009.

This is why we must cre­ate a more eco­nom­i­cal fight­er air­craft, said Col. Sean Fris­bee, the F-22 sys­tem pro­gram man­ag­er at Wright-Pat­ter­son Air Force Base, Ohio.

While the cer­e­mo­ny marked the end of an era for the F-22, the shut­down of the pro­duc­tion line also sig­ni­fied the begin­ning of a new chap­ter of sus­tain­ing and upgrad­ing the Rap­tor.

“This is only the begin­ning,” Fris­bee said. “The next phase will include greater capa­bil­i­ty to an already incred­i­ble air­craft.”

The final Rap­tor will enter a series of com­pa­ny and gov­ern­ment flight tests, accord­ing to Lock­heed Mar­tin offi­cials. Tail No. 4195 will then be deliv­ered in May to the 3rd Wing’s 525th Fight­er Squadron, com­mand­ed by Lt. Col. Paul Moga, at Joint Base Elmen­dorf-Richard­son, Alas­ka.

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