The final F-22 rolled off the assembly line on Tuesday during a ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s production plant in Marietta, Ga. This F-22, tail number 4195, completes the Air Force’s order for 187 production Raptors, far fewer than the hundreds of airframes envisioned when the first Raptor came off the line in April 1997. Shifting priorities and budget decisions whittled down that number over the years. Aircraft No. 4195 now moves into production flight check before its delivery to the Air Force next year, stated Lockheed in a release. The company built 195 F-22s on the line in all, including eight test airplanes. Factoring the two operational F-22s that have crashed, the Raptor fleet now stands at 185 aircraft. The Air Force is preserving the tooling used to manufacture the F-22s, even though there are currently no plans to restart the production line, reported Reuters. With the F-22 line shuttering, the F-35 strike fighter remains the only US fifth generation fighter in production. (See also Atlanta Journal-Constitution report.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.