F-22 CTF celebrates 20th birthday of Raptor first flight Published Oct. 27, 2017 By Kenji Thuloweit 412th Test Wing Public Affairs EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The F-22 Combined Test Force held a ceremony Oct. 19 to commemorate the first flight of the F-22 Raptor. The first flight of the first F-22 aircraft took place Sept. 7, 1997. The fighter took off from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, with F-22 chief test pilot Paul Metz at the controls. The F-22 CTF continues to test systems upgrades and modernization projects on the fifth-generation fighter. According to the Air Force, the F-22 Raptor’s combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions allowing full realization of operational concepts vital to the 21st century Air Force. The F-22 engines produce more thrust than any current fighter engine. The combination of sleek aerodynamic design and increased thrust allows the F-22 to cruise at supersonic airspeeds (greater than 1.5 Mach) without using afterburner — a characteristic known as supercruise. Supercruise greatly expands the F-22 ‘s operating envelope in both speed and range over current fighters that have to burn a lot of fuel using an afterburner.