Final F-22 rolls off assembly line

Gates announced in April 2009 that the Pentagon would end the F-22 program because "no military need exists" for what he and other Pentagon officials considered a fighter built for the Cold War. Gates also contended the Lockheed-made war planes would be too expensive.

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“For the last 17 years, regardless of the challenges, they always remained singularly focused, delivering the world’s greatest fighter," Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin’s F-22 program, said in a statement. "Each Raptor — from the first jet to last jet — is a reflection of the dedication, hard work and professionalism of our workforce.”

The Air Force's prized fighter fleet has a presence at service bases in Virginia, Alaska, Hawaii and Japan. While the Raptor has been used in training and exercises abroad and in the U.S., it has yet to be used during combat operations.

It has recently been hindered by a problem with the pilot-breathing system.