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Last May 2, 2012, the company’s F-22 Raptor Program Manager Jeff Babione handed over a ceremonial key for the last Raptor to the US Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz who then handed it over to pilot Lt Col Paul “Max” Moga, who then passed it onto his crew chief, Staff Sgt Damon Crawford. USAF dignitaries attended the event including Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Bob Stevens, and Generals Mike Hostage, Edward Rice and Gary North.
“The delivery represents an important element in our overall modernisation effort,” Schwartz says. “We continue to focus on ensuring that these capabilities will help shape the future security environment, not just respond to them.”
“If someone had told me in 2004, when I first started flying the Raptor, that I would have the honor of flying the last production jet out of Marietta, I’d have never believed them,” says Moga, commander of 525th FS, who will fly the jet to Alaska. 3rd Wg Cdr Col Dirk “Stuff” Smith will fly tail 4193 Elemendorf-Richardson.
“The F-22 weapon system is a testament to this country’s industrial strength, technological power and aviation ingenuity. Any line worker, engineer or supervisor that was involved in building the Raptor should feel an immense amount of pride in what they have accomplished. It is far and away the most lethal fighter aircraft ever built – a fact that will unfortunately, but most certainly, be proven in combat some day,” Moga added. “Rest assured…the F-22 has and will save lives.” Moga praises those who built the powerful twin-engined stealth fighter.
The F-22 Raptor aircraft served as an air superiority fighter against the Soviet Air Force. This aircraft is capable of ground attack, electronic warfare and signals intelligence roles. F-22 Raptor is a combination of stealth, maneuverability, integrated avionics and improved supportability. It performs both air-to- air and air-to-ground missions, making it an essential property to USAF.
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The argument that more F-22s must be bought because it is is the only fighter that is truly effective against advanced surface to air missiles got shot down (sorry about the pun) here at the Paris Air Show by the top Joint Strike Fighter official Marine Brig. Gen David Heinz.
Advocates such as Rebecca Grant, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, argue that the F-22 is needed principally because it is the premier weapon against the sophisticated S-300 ground-to-air missiles that the Russians have developed and are trying to sell.
So I asked Heinz if the JSF could kill advanced SAMs. His answer: “While I will do the mission differently, I am still delivering first day of the war capability.”
We’ll see if that puts the nail in the coffin of the F-22 supporters or if there are good counter-arguments to this. Of course, Heinz is a fierce advocate for this program and must be expected to defend it, but he’s also known as a very straight shooter. If he did not believe the plane’s ability to handle the SAM threat I think we would have gotten a very different answer.
On the industrial base side of the program, Heinz told reporters here that the program could reasonably generate an astonishing 6,000 sales. He based his estimate on the 4,425 F-16s sold around the world in various development blocks, combined with 600 F-18 E/Fs and Typhoons. “As these airplanes aqe out, I believe my airplane will be competitive,” he said.
The United States and the eight foreign partners are expected to order about 3,100 planes. Add 1,000 sales to prospective buyers such as Israel, Singapore, Spain, Japan, Finland and South Korea. Then top up the rest of the world and you get to Heinz’ figure of 6,000.
***You can get a F-22 Raptor model plane and F-35 Joint Strike Force model plane for a special price of $124.95 each! You may visit Warplanes.com or call 1-800-579-1207 for phone orders***