Raptor 195, the final F-22, has rolled off the line at Lockheed Martin's Marietta, Ga., assembly facility.
Lockheed Martin photo
This event marks the end of an era, which was put into motion two years ago by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The F-22 will likely be viewed in history books as not only one of the most ambitious fighter projects (perhaps of all time), but also highly controversial owing to cost.
The Pentagon prohibited international sales, likely prompting Japan to choose the F-35 as its next-generation fighter. A formal announcement is expected at the end of the week.
Most of the 250,000 square feet once occupied by F-22 assembly are expected to be rededicated to a new parts storage area to support C-130J production and C-5M modification work there, says Jeff Babione, F-22 vice president at Lockheed.
Tooling from Lockheed's F-22 work in Fort Worth, Texas, and Boeing's wing and aft-fuselage facility in Seattle has been categorized and put in storage at the Sierra Army Depot in California, Babione says. The remainder of the tooling in Fort Worth will be packaged and transported there next year.
In preparing the tooling for storage, Babione says Lockheed was able for the first time to use multimedia tools, including videos and electronic manuals. The goal is for any future maintainer needed to pull items out of storage to craft a part to have videos of line workers doing that task as a reference. They will have the "opportunity to see how it was being done under full-rate production,” Babione says.
At its peak, roughly 900 workers were assigned to F-22 work at Marietta. That shrank to roughly 650 once the program reached a more efficient steady state. Today, about 150 remain to support the final checkout and test work for Raptor 195.
The Pentagon ordered 187 of the Raptors owing to a decision enforced by Gates not to continue production. The Air Force had wanted roughly 200 more at the very least.
Raptor 195 will be delivered to the Air Force formally next year.