The Air Force’s oldest flying F-22 Raptor, tail number 4007, completed its 1,000th sortie, announced Combined Test Force officials at Edwards AFB, Calif., where the airplane serves as a test asset. The airplane, dubbed the “James Bond jet” due to its 007 designation, reached the milestone on April 19, according to Edwards’ late April release. The jet arrived at Edwards in October 2001 and has participated since then in ground and flight tests and has maintained a role in weapons testing and development, states the release. “These 1,000 missions were not reiterations of the same combat training mission,” said Lt. Col. Daron Drown, F-22 CTF director. Instead, the “vast majority of these were very unique test missions,” he said. The 1,000th sortie, for example, was one of the first flight tests of the Raptor’s Increment 3.2A software upgrade that is meant to bolster the stealth fighter’s “lethality and self-defense capability,” said Lt. Col. Devin Devin Traynor, F-22 CTF director of operations. (Edwards report by Laura Mowry)
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.