15th anniversary of F-22 Raptor’s first flight

Today is the 15th anniversary of the first flight of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. It was exactly 15th years ago on September 7th, 1997, when Lockheed test pilot Paul Metz first took to the air in the stealthy fifth-generation jet. At the time, it was expected that the USAF would buy 339 or so jets with a total stated requirement for at least 381 planes. That was eventually reduced to 277 jets, and then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld later capped production at 183 aircraft. Later still, then Defense Secretary Robert Gates added back four jets to raise the total to 187 Raptors, the last of which–tail 4195–was delivered earlier in the year. Ultimately, 195 Raptors were built including the developmental test jets–a far cry from the 750 aircraft originally envisioned.

F22_FirstFlight_Web_1997_PD038_098_1267828237_6274.jpgHere is a video of that event, and here is my Raptor retrospective.

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