The F-22 Raptor, the most feared combat aircraft in the world, is also much-maligned and has certainly had its share of challenges to overcome. The final aircraft to roll off the production line is 10-4195, and currently serves as the flagship for the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

Aircraft 4195 was delivered on 2 May 2012, a significant event in the lives of so many people. And while the F-22 is now just hitting its operational stride, the name of the game is sustainment. Of the 183 still operational, they’re in need of modernization, which Tyson Wetzel explained in great depth here.

We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve spent a lot of time around the Raptor, as well as the men and women who fly and maintain it. Even very recently, we had the opportunity to go out into the airspace with the F-22 and actually see it doing what it does best–hunting and killing other airplanes. We’ll discuss that more in an upcoming article, but suffice it to say, watching the Raptor in action is simply…eye-watering. Awe-inspiring. Breath-taking.

If you’ve seen the F-22 demo at some point–either in person or in video–you’ve gotten a glimpse at what the jet is capable of from an agility standpoint. That routine is indeed just a glimpse, and seeing the Raptor’s maneuverability, coupled with all of the open-source facts and figures, paint a very impressive picture of the jet’s overall capabilities.

4195: The Last Raptor
F-22A Raptor 10-4195 was the last Raptor, the final airframe to roll off the assembly line, and seen here during its first flight prior to delivery. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed-Martin)

The jet is an absolutely critical piece of our national security strategy, so much so Congress has recently ordered the Air Force to conduct a study on the feasibility of building more. We’re not holding out a lot of hope the line will actually re-open, but the thought of that happening certainly is an attractive one. Until then, 4195 is the last of its kind.

So take a moment to watch this video. It nicely illustrates just how much the Raptor has impacted people, and in far more ways than just operationally.

(Featured Photo by Jonathan Derden)