Today, we have a stealth post but you should be able to see because this photo series is about the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk.
The development of this plane has been shrouded with secrecy and even today after it’s retirement, lots of information about it is still classified.
Born out of the Have Blue technology demonstrator, the Nighthawk is an attack jet with stealth capabitilies although having a “F” designation and often being called a “stealth fighter”, the F-117 don’t have any air-to-air potential.
It’s design is made from 2-D flat surfaces as a result of the 1970s computer limitations because of this, some may say the aircraft’s frame was obsolete even before going into service. The Nighthawk was designed to have a very low Radar Cross-Section (RCS), this was made due to the project being developed by radar engineering rather than by aerospace engineering. One of the main problems of keeping a low RCS is that the plane was aerodynamically unstable and that was a big issue in the 1960s because the computer technology could not provide the necessary flight computers which would later allow aircraft such as the F-117 and B-2 Spirit to stay airborne.
The Nighthawk was sent to multiple combat operations, the first one was during the United States invasion of Panama in 1989, where 2 F-117A dropped bombs on the Rio Hato airfield. During the Gulf War in 1991, the Nighthawks were used to drop laser-guided bombs on targets in areas where optically aimed AAA and infrared SAMs were present as this was the biggest threat to Coalition aircraft, most operations were done at night to fully conceal the aircraft.
Only one F-117 was lost in combat and that was during Operation Allied Force in 27 March 1999, the Yugoslav troops spotted the Nighthawk on the radar when it’s bomb bays were open, the increase in radar signature allowed the SA-3 “Goa” SAM to lock and fire the missiles, the pilot ejected but the plane crashed at a slow speed and in an inverted position, the damage done to the airframe was low, after six hours, the pilot was rescued by an USAF pararescue team. The Serbs invited Russian personnel to inspect the remains of the aircraft, some say that the russian stealth technology had a significant advance after this incident.
Today, the F-117A Nighthawk is out of service but is still being maintained to keep it in condition to be recalled to service, some Nighthawks were spotted flying in the Nellis Bombing Range in 2015 and some of them are flown periodically.
Well, that’s it for this photo series, i guess we might see some Nighthawks in action again if some big conflict fires up and the needs for a precision bomber arises.
As always, if you have any suggestions or want to contribute for the next photo series, send them to me, i’ll be more than happy to upload them.
U.S., British, French, Polish, Dutch and German paratroopers training alongside one another during the large scale exercise Swift Response 16 at the Hohenfels Training Area, a part of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, in Hohenfels, Germany, Jun. 22, 2016. Exercise Swift Response is one of the premier military crisis response training events for multi-national airborne forces in the world. The exercise is designed to enhance the readiness of the combat core of the U.S. Global Response Force – currently the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team – to conduct rapid-response, joint-forcible entry and follow-on operations alongside Allied high-readiness forces in Europe.
The Planners of D-Day: Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force commanders at a conference in London, 2 January, 1944. From left to right: Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Sir Bernard Montgomery, Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory and Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith.
With the invasion of Sicily in mid-1943, the 99th Pursuit Squadron found themselves moved fro Tunisia to an airbase on the island at Licata. Due to poor communications, their arrival at Licata proved that the base not only wasn’t ready for them to fly out of, but was quite literally on the front lines, and actually fell briefly into German hands as they counterattacked against the British advance.
FRANCE, Colleville-sur-Mer : US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande look out over Omaha Beach during the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, June 6, 2014. The D-Day ceremonies on June 6 this year mark the 70th anniversary since the launch of ‘Operation Overlord’, a vast military operation by Allied forces in Normandy, which turned the tide of World War II, eventually leading to the liberation of occupied France and the end of the war against Nazi Germany. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB
1990’s – Two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 52nd Fighter Wing, 81st Fighter Squadron, Spangdhalem Air Base, Germany, drop away from a refueling tanker during a NATO Operation Allied Force combat mission. The “Warthogs,” deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy, are specially designed for close air support of ground forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg L. Davis)
FRANCE, Arromanches-les-Bains : Men dressed in vintage World War II US military uniforms stand next to a Willis jeep, on the beach, in the morning in Arromanches, western France, on June 5, 2014, a day before the start of the D-Day commemorations. The D-Day ceremonies on June 6 this year mark the 70th anniversary since the launch of ‘Operation Overlord’, a vast military operation by Allied forces in Normandy, which turned the tide of World War II, eventually leading to the liberation of occupied France and the end of the war against Nazi Germany. AFP PHOTO / LUDOVIC MARIN
Two U.S. Air Force A-10A Warthogs, from the 52nd Fighter Wing, 81st Fighter Squadron, Spangdhalem Air Base, Germany, in flight during a NATO Operation Allied Force combat mission, April 22. The “Tank Killer” A-10As, deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy, are specially designed for close air support of ground forces. (Handout photo)
FRANCE, Ranville : British World War II veteran Frederick Glover poses for a photograph as soldiers parachute down during a D-Day commemoration paratroopers launch event in Ranville, northern France, on June 5, 2014, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the World War II Allied landings in Normandy. D-Day ceremonies on June 6 this year mark the 70th anniversary of the launch of ‘Operation Overlord’, a vast military operation by Allied forces in Normandy, which turned the tide of World War II, eventually leading to the liberation of occupied France and the end of the war against Nazi Germany. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS BREGARDIS
Paratroopers jump onto the Iron Mike drop zone in Sainte-Mère-Église, France. More than 600 U.S., German, Dutch and French service members jumped to honor the paratroopers that jumped into Normandy on D-Day. The event was one of several 70th Anniversary commemorations of D-Day operations conducted by Allied forces during World War II June 5-6, 1944. Over 650 U.S. military personnel have joined troops from several NATO nations to participate in ceremonies to honor the events at the invitation of the French government.
(U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Sara Keller, 8 JUN 2014.)