Langley Air Force Base, VA, – Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, the world’s only 5th generation fighter aircraft flying today, marked its certification for combat January 13, 2005 at a ceremony at Langley AFB, Virginia. Langley is home to the 27th Fighter Squadron, which flies the Raptor aircraft. The Air Force certification for the Raptor is called its Initial Operating Capability.
The Air Force is now capable of deploying and supporting 12 F-22 Raptors anywhere in the world to execute air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The Raptor is also qualified to perform homeland defense missions when required.
General Ronald E. Keys, Commander of Air Combat Command, made the historic announcement about the Raptor. “The F-22 fulfills a long quest to bring 5th generation capabilities of stealth, supercruise, and precision to the warfighter today and for decades to come,” said General Keys in an Air Force news release. “If we go to war tomorrow, the Raptor will go with us.”
“It’s another great day for our nation, the Air Force and certainly for the Raptor industry team,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice president and F-22 general manager. “Thousands of workers in 42 states throughout our nation can take great pride in the fact that we not only met the customer’s requirements, but we exceeded these expectations and produced a revolutionary fighter aircraft for our country. The Raptor is the very first supersonic, stealth fighter that incorporates capabilities never before possible in one weapons system and in the words of the Air Force, achieves ‘overwhelming’ performance.”
Industry team members, congressional guests and the men and women of the U.S. Air Force gathered at the Langley base to celebrate this important occasion in aviation history.
Addressing those attending the Langley ceremony, General John Corley, the Air Force’s Vice Chief of Staff said “It is and will continue to be, for decades to come, a key weapon in America’s arsenal. It will keep us postured against new and emerging threats.”
The F-22 Raptor, the world’s most advanced 5th generation fighter, is built by Lockheed Martin in partnership with Boeing and Pratt & Whitney. Approximately 1,000 suppliers in 42 states provide parts and subsystems. F-22 production takes place at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facilities in Palmdale, Calif.; Meridian, Miss.; Marietta, Ga.; and Fort Worth, Texas, as well as at Boeing’s plant in Seattle, Wash. Final assembly and initial flight testing of the Raptor occurs at the Marietta plant facilities.