Lockheed Martin delivers final F-22 Raptor
By by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Gaston, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 02, 2012
MARIETTA, Ga. -- Air Force senior officials attended a ceremony here May 2 commemorating the delivery of the final F-22 Raptor from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company to the U.S. Air Force.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz was joined by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and other senior congressional, Air Force and civilian dignitaries as they were welcomed to Dobbins Air Reserve Base and the Lockheed Martin Marietta plant for the event.
The message for the day was simple, and said best by the very first speaker Shan Cooper, vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and general manager of the Marietta plant.
"Thank you," she said to the Lockheed Martin employees who had assembled to watch the unveiling.
The final delivery will completed the F-22 Raptor fleet and the Air Force's multi-role fighter force of 195 advanced tactile fighters, eight of which have been dubbed as test planes.
The F-22 is a key component of the Global Strike Task Force, a concept developed in preparation for 21st century challenges, and is unmatched by any known or projected fighter aircraft, due to its speed, stealth and maneuverability, according to Air Force officials.
"The very existence of this airplane, your airplane, has altered the strategic landscape forever," said Robert Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and chief executive officer. "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, but let's not fail to take note today, the number of nations who rank among either competitors or adversaries who are frantically trying to replicate what you have done."
As the hanger doors rose unveiling the final F-22, cheers from both the guests and the workers assembled erupted. They were seeing what they really came to celebrate, the product of years of their hard work, beginning as a single notion and becoming the most advanced weapons system yet produced.
"The delivery represents an important element in our overall modernization effort," said Schwartz.
The F-22's reliability and support is expected to reduce long-term costs, reduce manpower associated with maintenance and keep planes operational longer.
"We look forward to making improvements to the F-22 to ensure war fighters receive the maximum benefit from this exponential leap in tactical air combat capability", he said. "Thank you to all of the partners in industry and government that made this occasion a reality. 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."
Following the ceremony, the final F-22, tail number 4195, will be flown to its new unit at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska.