Lockheed Martin rolls out final F-22 Raptor

The composites-intensive fighter jet is the last of 187 F-22s produced by Lockheed Martin at its Marietta, Ga., USA, facility. The F-22 program was discontinued by the Obama Administration during 2009 budget-cutting.

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The final F-22 Raptor to be built for the U.S. Air Force, tail number 4195, rolled off the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics assembly line during a ceremony Dec. 13 at the company's Marietta, Ga., USA, plant.

The fighter jet is the last of 187 F-22s produced. The F-22 program was ended in 2009 by the Obama Administration in a budget-cutting move.

It has been a memorable journey, said Shan Cooper, the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics company vice president and Marietta site general manager. The first part was created in Marietta in 1994. The jet was placed on the assembly line in 1995 and then first rolled out in 1997. "While the Raptor itself is eye-watering, the people on Team Raptor have made the F-22 what it is today," Cooper said.

Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics division employs about 2,000 people for the F-22 program at its Marietta facility. Together, the team built the first 5th-generation fighter. "You reduced the labor hours by 300 percent," said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin's F-22 program manager. "You've delivered 55 zero-defect jets to date, and you have had more than five years of on-time deliveries."

The F-22 combines stealth, advanced sensors and advanced air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons that makes it possible for the aircraft to cruise faster than the speed of sound without being detected.

While the ceremony marked the end of an era for the F-22, the shutdown of the production line also signified the beginning of a new chapter of sustaining and upgrading the Raptor. The final Raptor will enter a series of company and government flight tests, according to Lockheed Martin officials. Tail No. 4195 will then be delivered in May to the 3rd Wing's 525th Fighter Squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Paul Moga, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.