Raptor To Begin Final Flight Tests


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Raptor To Begin Final Flight Tests
United Press International
March 25, 2004,

ATLANTA - The Pentagon says Lockheed-Martin's F/A-22 fighter is starting final flight tests to see if the modernistic jet can live up to its billing.

The decision is expected to keep the program on track at least through the end of this year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. After that, the Pentagon will decide whether to put the plane -- called the Raptor -- into full production.

The $72 billion Raptor program - the most expensive fighter project in U.S. history -- has been plagued by frequent delays, cost overruns and growing competition from a new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles.

About 2,200 Lockheed Martin workers are employed at the plant building the aircraft near Atlanta.

The tests, scheduled to begin in two weeks at Edwards Air Force Base in California, will pit four Raptors against a variety of frontline fighters and surface-to-air missiles.

If the Raptors function as claimed, they will be able to outrun and outmaneuver their opponents while remaining invisible to radar, the report said.