At a time when the US Air Force wants to accelerate fighter aircraft development under a ‘Digital Century Series’, Combat Aircraft Journal looks back at how the first combat-coded F-22 Raptor was delivered in May 2005 and how, some 15 years on, the USAF is working to ensure the fighter remains relevant.

THE VERY FIRST Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor took to the skies on September 7, 1997, about 15 years after the project was first launched. The initial operational example didn’t arrive at a fighter wing until May 2005, when the first frontline Raptor touched down at Joint Base LangleyEustis, Virginia, in May 2005. Some 15 years later, this stealthy, supercruising, sensor-fused, master of the skies is undergoing something of a revolution.


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