Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor stealth fighter was taken on its maiden test flight Sunday, spending an hour in the air at speeds up to 285 mph.
“If you can fly a Cessna 150, you can fly this airplane,” said test pilot Paul Metz, referring to the common civilian craft.
The Air Force is scheduled to get 339 of the planes to replace the F-15C, currently its top fighter, at a cost of $43 billion. The first squadron of the new planes is due to be operational by 2005.
The F-22 also could replace the F-117 stealth fighters, said Gen. Richard Hawley, head of the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va.
The plane was built in Marietta by Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems in partnership with Boeing Co. and Pratt & Whitney.
A main advance of the F-22 is its computer system that shows the pilot all of its data on one screen instead of several different monitors, said Micky Blackwell, president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Sector.