Lockheed Martin delivered the 187th F-22 production aircraft to the Air Force during a May 2 ceremony at the company’s manufacturing plant in Marietta, Ga. Handover of Raptor 4195 completed the Air Force’s order for the nation’s first fifth generation fighter. “The very existence of this airplane—your airplane—has altered the strategic landscape forever,” said Robert Stevens, Lockheed Martin board chairman and CEO, to the Raptor workforce gathered for the event. Advanced weapon systems like the F-22 will “help shape the future security environment and not just respond to it,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz at the ceremony. Air superiority will remain the F-22’s primary mission, but “it clearly will play a starring role” in the nation’s new defense strategy that emphasizes deterring and defeating aggressors and projecting power into contested areas, said Schwartz. He noted testing this year in which an F-22 retargeted a submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missile in flight as an example of its enhanced joint interoperability. Schwartz thanked the Raptor workforce. “Your remarkable efforts will make very important contributions to our national security . . . for many, many years to come,” he said. Raptor 4195 is scheduled to join the 3rd Wing at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on May 4, a base spokesman told the Daily Report. (Lockheed Martin release) (To watch ceremony, click here.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.