Raptor Final Steps

Raptor’s Final Steps: The last of the Air Force’s 187 planned F-22s will enter the production line at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Ga., in November, and will emerge from the No. 1 station about nine months later, according to company officials. This final F-22 – tail number 195—will be delivered to USAF in February 2012. Lockheed has now delivered 87 F-22s in a row “on time or ahead of schedule” and without defects, George Shultz, the company’s F-22 program manager, told reporters last week during a media visit to Marietta. He said the Air Force has decided to save “all the tooling” for the airplane, pending decisions about how to sustain it in the long term. The company is filming and documenting procedures on the production line as they are completed for the final time, so that the tooling can be resuscitated for later production of parts or assemblies. “There are 30,000 tools” involved and as each is used for the last time, it is promptly put into a Conex storage container, said Shultz. Where the tools will be stored has not yet been decided, he said. But they will be retained at a government-owned, contractor-operated facility “three to five years, at least,” he noted.