After receiving final tests and touches at Hill AFB, Utah, three of the last few F-22s built at Lockheed Martin’s plant in Marietta, Ga., arrived at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. One of the Raptors—aircraft No. 4190—promptly assumed its place as the 90th Fighter Squadron’s new flagship, replacing aircraft 4090 in that role, during a dedication ceremony on March 7. From now on, “whenever we go somewhere—that jet goes with us,” said 90th FS Commander Lt. Col. Joseph Kunkel. “Instead of there being a simple tail number, it’s going to have ’90th Fighter Squadron,’ so when we roll into town, everyone knows who we are,” he added. The 90th FS is one of two F-22 squadrons at the joint base, along with the 525th FS. Lockheed Martin is slated to deliver the Air Force’s 187th and final F-22 to the 525th FS in May. (Elmendorf-Richardson report by David Bedard) (See also The Last Raptor from Air Force Magazine’s February issue.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.