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He believed smoothly blended shapes offered the best combination of speed and stealth. However, his assistant, Ben Rich, showed that faceted-angle surfaces would provide significant reduction in radar signature, and the necessary aerodynamic control could be provided with computer units. The resulting unusual design surprised and puzzled experienced pilots; a Royal Air Force pilot, who flew it as an exchange officer while it was still a secret project, stated that when he first saw a photograph of the F, he "promptly giggled and thought to [himself] 'this clearly can't fly ' ".

Highly-stealthy aircraft like the F Nighthawk are aerodynamically unstable in all three aircraft principal axes and require constant flight corrections from a fly-by-wire FBW flight system to maintain controlled flight.

MIlitary Documentary 2015 Lockheed F 117 Nighthawk full video

The single-seat Nighthawk is powered by two non-afterburning General Electric F turbofan engines. It is air refuelable and features a V-tail.

Luminox USA F Nighthawk - series

It has quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight controls. The parts were originally described as spares on budgets for these aircraft, to keep the F project secret. The aircraft is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a digital avionics suite. It navigates primarily by GPS and high-accuracy inertial navigation. Missions are coordinated by an automated planning system that can automatically perform all aspects of an attack mission, including weapons release.

The F has a radar cross-section of about 0. The FA carries no radar, which lowers emissions and cross-section, and whether it carries any radar detection equipment is classified. The FA's faceted shape made from 2-dimensional flat surfaces resulted from the limitations of the s-era computer technology used to calculate its radar cross-section. Later supercomputers made it possible for subsequent aircraft like the B-2 bomber to use curved surfaces while maintaining stealth, through the use of far more computational resources to perform the additional calculations.

An exhaust plume contributes a significant infrared signature. The F reduces IR signature with a non-circular tail pipe a slit shape to minimize the exhaust cross-sectional volume and maximize the mixing of hot exhaust with cool ambient air. The F lacks afterburners , because the hot exhaust would increase the infrared signature, and breaking the sound barrier would produce an obvious sonic boom , as well as surface heating of the aircraft skin which also increases the infrared footprint.

As a result, its performance in air combat maneuvering required in a dogfight would never match that of a dedicated fighter aircraft. This was unimportant in the case of this aircraft since it was designed to be a bomber. Passive multistatic radar , bistatic radar [43] and especially multistatic radar systems detect some stealth aircraft better than conventional monostatic radars , since first-generation stealth technology such as the F reflects energy away from the transmitter's line of sight , effectively increasing the radar cross section RCS in other directions, which the passive radars monitor.

During the program's early years, from to mid, the FA fleet was based at Tonopah Test Range Airport , Nevada , where it served under the th Tactical Group. All military personnel were permanently assigned to Nellis AFB, and most personnel and their families lived in Las Vegas.

This required commercial air and trucking to transport personnel between Las Vegas and Tonopah each week. The th was absorbed by the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing in This move also eliminated the Key Air and American Trans Air contract flights to Tonopah, which flew 22, passenger trips on flights from Nellis to Tonopah per month.

The F reached initial operating capability status in Each of the Air Force pilots who have flown the F has a Bandit number, such as "Bandit 52", that indicates the sequential order of their first flight in the F The F has been used several times in war.

Its first mission was during the United States invasion of Panama in During the Gulf War in , the F flew approximately 1, sorties and scored direct hits on 1, high-value targets in Iraq [2] over 6, flight hours. For instance it was claimed that the F made up 2. The aircraft was operated in secret from Tonopah for almost a decade, but after the Gulf War the aircraft moved to Holloman in —however, its integration with the USAF's non-stealth "iron jets" occurred slowly. As one senior FA pilot later said: Because of ongoing secrecy others continued to see the aircraft as "none of their business, a stand-alone system".

On their first deployment, with the aid of aerial refueling, pilots flew non-stop from Holloman to Kuwait, a flight of approximately One F AF ser. He also stated that he oversaw the modification of his targeting radar to improve its detection capability. After the explosion, the aircraft became uncontrollable, forcing the pilot to eject. Though the name "Capt Ken 'Wiz' Dwelle" was painted on the canopy, it was revealed in that the pilot was Lt.

Dale Zelko.

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Some American sources state that a second FA was damaged during the same campaign, allegedly on 30 April ; [63] the aircraft returned to base, but it supposedly never flew again. It was operated by the U. Air Force.

Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Specifications

The loss in Serbia caused the USAF to create a subsection of their existing weapons school to improve tactics. More training was done with other units, and the FA began to participate in Red Flag exercises. Though advanced for its time, the F's stealthy faceted airframe required a large amount of maintenance and was eventually superseded by streamlined shapes produced with computer-aided design. Other weapon systems began to take on the F's roles, such as the F Raptor gaining ability to drop guided bombs.

Brigadier General David L. Goldfein , commander of the 49th Fighter Wing , said at the ceremony, "With the launch of these great aircraft today, the circle comes to a close—their service to our nation's defense fulfilled, their mission accomplished and a job well done. We send them today to their final resting place—a home they are intimately familiar with—their first, and only, home outside of Holloman.

By August, two were remaining. Five aircraft were placed in museums, including the first four YFAs and some remains of the F shot down over Serbia. It was the last F at Palmdale and was scrapped to test an effective method for destroying F airframes. Congress had ordered that all Fs mothballed from 30 September onwards were to be maintained "in a condition that would allow recall of that aircraft to future service" as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. By April , lawmakers appeared ready to "remove the requirement that certain F aircraft be maintained in a condition that would allow recall of those aircraft to future service", which would move them from storage to the aerospace maintenance and regeneration yard in Arizona to be scavenged for hard-to-find parts, or completely disassembled.

Although officially retired, the F fleet remains intact and photos show the aircraft carefully mothballed.

Postage Stamp Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk 1/150

The United States Navy tested the F in but determined it was not suitable for carrier use. The unsolicited proposal was received poorly by the Department of Defense, which had little interest in the single mission capabilities of such an aircraft, particularly as it would take money away from the Joint Advanced Strike Technology program, which evolved into the Joint Strike Fighter. The new aircraft would have differed from the land-based F in several ways, including the addition "of elevators, a bubble canopy, a less sharply swept wing and reconfigured tail". After being rebuffed by the Navy, Lockheed submitted an updated proposal that included afterburning capability and a larger emphasis on the FN as a multi-mission aircraft, rather than just an attack aircraft.

United States Air Force [92]. The aircraft's official name is "Night Hawk", [97] however the alternative form "Nighthawk" is frequently used.


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As it prioritized stealth over aerodynamics, it earned the nickname "Wobblin' Goblin" due to its alleged instability at low speeds. However, F pilots have stated the nickname is undeserved. Data from U. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Single-seat, twin-engine stealth ground-attack aircraft from Lockheed. For other uses, see F disambiguation. Main article: Lockheed Have Blue. Play media. Main article: Stealth aircraft. Main article: FA shootdown. Aviation portal.


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  • Los Angeles Times , 23 April Retrieved 27 April Archived from the original on 28 February Retrieved 18 July United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 6 March Retrieved 19 March F Stealth Fighter Association. Combat Legend: F Nighthawk. Retrieved: 27 April Merlin Images of Aviation: Area Boston: Arcadia Publishing. Nighthawk F Stealth Fighter. Zenith Imprint. Zenith Press. Retrieved 16 December General Accounting Office. Dozens of Fs were routinely tasked to attack Baghdad in the first few days of the war.

    Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, Air Force Association. Archived from the original on 22 April In 1, combat sorties during the 43 days of the air offensive, the Nighthawks made 1, pinpoint hits on key targets. The public was utterly fascinated by the release of films taken during the attacks, which show the laser-guided bombs striking windows and airshafts of buildings with an uncanny precision. The Iraqi defenses were so heavy, and there was so much barrage fire, it seemed inevitable that sheer chance would see a Nighthawk brought down.

    Fortunately, this was not the case, and the first loss did not occur until the war in Bosnia, when a lack of electronic countermeasures ECM coverage and the possibility of a security lapse caused an FA to be shot down. The United States Air Force purchased only 59 FAs, and losses have whittled that number down to about 53 in the active inventory.

    Yet, in every potential combat situation, there is an immediate demand for their services. Consequently, the Air Force reserves them for use against targets of the highest value. Early in the Nighthawk's career, rumors abounded that it was difficult to fly. However, the multiple computer systems on board compensate for its lack of stability, making it a pleasant aircraft to fly.