F-22 assembly line fades into history

F22 4195 thumb.jpgThere are now four active fighter assembly lines in the US, one less than a few hours ago.

Lockheed Martin confirms that F-22 tail number 4195 rolled off the assembly line earlier this morning. The last of the 185 operational F-22s has now moved to the flight line, with final delivery to the US Air Force early in the second quarter.

The closure of the F-22 assembly line caps a painful year for the programme. In January, the investigation of a mysterious F-22 crash last November in Alaska was just beginning. Pacific Air Forces Command still has not released the report by the accident investigation board. The F-22 was withheld from operations in Libya. Concerns about onboard oxygen generating system also prompted two fleet-wide groundings during the year, and the cause of the problem is still unknown.

Lockheed rolled out F-22 tail number 4001 in April 1997, the first of nine flight test aircraft. Development delays and cost overruns forced the USAF to reduce the original 750-aircraft programme to about 330 by 2000. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld trimmed the final number in 2006 to 187, and two aircraft have since been lost to crashes.

(Photo by Lockheed Martin)



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