Lockheed Martin has delivered the 196th F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft to the U.S. Air Force surpassing the total number of F-22 Raptor jets in its inventory.
The USAF currently operates 195 F-22 Raptors – 187 operational and 8 test aircraft- that were delivered to the service between 1996 and 2011.
The 196th F-35 will be based at Hill Air Force Base in Utah which home of the first operational USAF F-35 squadrons. The first F-35A was delivered to the Air Force in 2006 and the service has a production goal of 1,763 F-35s.
F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation, single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but also has ground attack, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence capabilities.
Service officials had originally planned to buy a total of 750 ATFs. In 2009, the program was cut to 187 operational production aircraft due to high costs, a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the more versatile F-35. The last F-22 was delivered in 2012.
F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters developed by Lockheed Martin. The fifth-generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground-attack and air-superiority missions.
It has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) variant.
The U.S. Air Force operates the CTOL variant, F-35A. The USAF declared its first squadron of F-35As ready for deployment in August 2016
The U.S. plans to buy 2,663 F-35s, which will provide the bulk of the crewed tactical airpower of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps in coming decades. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled until 2037 with a projected service life up to 2070.
More than 395 F-35s have been built, including variants produced for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and foreign partners and customers.