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F-22 Ensures Future at Hill AFB

F-22 Ensures Future at Hill AFB

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Keith McCord and Lance Bandley ReportingIf there was any question about the future of Hill Air Force Base, that was put to rest today. The Air Force announced that its newest fighter plane will be serviced at Hill, assuring the base will continue to play a vital role in our military for years to come.

There was a ceremony on the tarmac today to mark the first partnership between the military and industry, a joint effort to manufacture and deliver the nation's newest war planes faster and cheaper. Thanks to the team at Ogden's Air Logistics Center, Hill is now officially an F-22 "Raptor Base".

The F-22A Raptor is the Air Force's newest fighter. It'll replace the F-15. This 120-million dollar machine can do it all -- it's fast, it has incredible maneuverability, it has GPS guided missiles; and it is equipped with stealth technology.

The Air Force started test flying the "Raptor" in 2004 and last year, pilots brought it to Utah and put it through rigorous training scenarios.

Brig. Gen. C.D. Moore II, USAF: "As we exited the development program late last year, it became evident that some modifications needed to be made on the Raptor sooner rather than later."

In fact, the Air Force and Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-22, determined that 17 additional changes are needed. And that's where Ogden's Air Logistics Center at Hill came in. The team went to work and made the necessary modifications on the first plane much sooner than expected. One such fix was to improve the lighting on the plane to make nighttime air refueling safer.

Dennis Haines, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics: "You might imagine trying to refuel a Raptor in the dark of night. It's stealthy, so you don't get all the signals. It's black, or dark, so you don't see it, you might need a light if you're a boomer up there and the plane is 10 feet away."

There are now 68 F-22's in service and they all need modifications, and that work will be done here. Governor Huntsman said the move by the Air Force to have its newest warplane serviced exclusively here definitely answers the question about the future of Hill.

Governor Jon Huntsman Jr.: "So it says that we are secure as an Air Force base, which means the economy in this part of the state is secure as well. And I think that's a very, very important message for people of the state to understand."

And the Air Force has another plane in development right now -- the F-35, which will replace the F-16. Governor Huntsman says it's possible that Hill will also get to service those planes as well sometime in the future.

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