F-117A Nighthawk Stealth fighter: Aircraft profile

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Mission

The F-117A Nighthawk is the world's first operational aircraft designed to exploit low-observable stealth technology.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter front: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter aircraft flies over Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), during the joint service experimentation process dubbed Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02).F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter front: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter aircraft flies over Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), during the joint service experimentation process dubbed Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02).

This precision-strike aircraft penetrates high-threat airspace and uses laser-guided weapons against critical targets.

Features

The unique design of the single-seat F-117A provides exceptional combat capabilities. About the size of an F-15 Eagle, the twin-engine aircraft is powered by two General Electric F404 turbofan engines and has quadruple redundant fly-by-wire flight controls. Air refuelable, it supports worldwide commitments and adds to the deterrent strength of U.S. military forces.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, lands at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, in support of local Exercise CORONET NIGHTHAWKF-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, lands at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, in support of local Exercise CORONET NIGHTHAWK

The F-117A can employ a variety of weapons and is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a digital avionics suite that increases mission effectiveness and reduces pilot workload. Detailed planning for missions into highly defended target areas is accomplished by an automated mission planning system developed, specifically, to take advantage of the unique capabilities of the F-117A.

Background

The F-117A production decision was made in 1978 with a contract awarded to Lockheed Advanced Development Projects, the "Skunk Works," in Burbank, Calif. The first flight over the Nevada test ranges was on June 18, 1981, only 31 months after the full-scale development decision.

Streamlined management by Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, combined breakthrough stealth technology with concurrent development and production to rapidly field the aircraft.

The first F-117A was delivered in 1982, and the last delivery was in the summer of 1990. Air Combat Command's only F-117A unit, the 4450th Tactical Group, (now the 49th Fighter Wing, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.), achieved operational capability in October 1983.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter sits on display at the Royal International Air Tattoo.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter sits on display at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, F-117A's flew approximately 1,300 sorties and scored direct hits on 1,600 high-value targets in Iraq. It was the only U.S. or coalition aircraft to strike targets in downtown Baghdad. Since moving to Holloman AFB in 1992, the F-117A and the men and women of the 49th Fighter Wing have deployed to Southwest Asia more than once. On their first trip, the F-117s flew non-stop from Holloman to Kuwait, a flight of approximately 18.5 hours -- a record for single-seat fighters that stands today.

In 1999, 24 F-117A's deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy, and Spangdahlem AB, Germany, to support NATO's Operation Allied Force. The aircraft led the first Allied air strike against Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999.

Returning to the skies over Baghdad, F-117A's launched Operation Iraqi Freedom with a decapitation strike on March 20, 2003. Striking key targets in the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime, 12 deployed F-117s flew more than 100 combat sorties in support of the global war on terrorism.

The F-117A program demonstrates that stealth aircraft can be designed for reliability and maintainability. It created a revolution in military warfare by incorporating low-observable technology into operational aircraft. The aircraft receives support through a Lockheed-Martin contract known as Total System Performance Responsibility.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A U.S. Air Force F-117 Nighthawk aircraft does a fly by during exercise Sentry Eagle at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 11, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Hughel)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A U.S. Air Force F-117 Nighthawk aircraft does a fly by during exercise Sentry Eagle at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 11, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Hughel)

The F-117 is being replaced by the F-22 Raptor. The first 10 were retired in December 2006.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Fighter/attack

Contractor: Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co.

Power Plant: Two General Electric F404 non-afterburning engines

Thrust: 18,080 pounds at sea level

Wingspan: 43 feet, 4 inches (13.2 meters)

Length: 63 feet, 9 inches (19.4 meters)

Height: 12 feet, 9.5 inches (3.9 meters)

Weight: 52,500 pounds (23,625 kilograms)

Maximum takeoff weight: 47,900 pounds (21,727 kilograms)

Fuel capacity: 19,000 pounds (8618 kilograms)

Payload: 4,000 pounds (1,814 kilograms)

Speed: High subsonic

Range: Unlimited with air refueling

Ceiling: 45,000 feet (13,716 meters)

Armament: Internal weapons carriage

Crew: One

Unit Cost: $45 million

Initial operating capability: October 1983

Inventory: Total force, 45

Source: USAF

Detailed background:

Source: wikipedia.org

The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a stealth ground attack aircraft formerly operated by the United States Air Force. The F-117A's first flight was in 1981, and it achieved Initial Operational Capability status in October 1983. The F-117A was "acknowledged" and revealed to the world in November 1988.

As a product of the Skunk Works and a development of the Have Blue prototype, it became the first operational aircraft initially designed around stealth technology. The F-117A was widely publicized during the Gulf War of 1991.

The Air Force retired the F-117 on 22 April 2008, primarily due to the purchasing and eventual deployment of the more effective F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk taxis down the runway before its flight during the Holloman Air and Space Expo at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 27, 2007.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk taxis down the runway before its flight during the Holloman Air and Space Expo at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 27, 2007.

Development

The F-117 was born after combat experience in the Vietnam War after increasing sophistication of Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) downed heavy bomber flights.

In 1964, Pyotr Ya. Ufimtsev, a Russian mathematician, published a seminal paper, "Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction," in the Journal of the Moscow Institute for Radio Engineering, in which he showed that the strength of a radar return is proportional to the edge configuration of an object, not its size. Ufimtsev was extending theoretical work published by the German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld. Ufimtsev demonstrated that he could calculate the radar cross-section across a wing's surface and along its edge. The obvious conclusion was that even a large airplane could be made stealthy by exploiting this principle. However, the airplane's design would make it aerodynamically unstable, and the state of computer science in the early 1960s could not provide the kinds of flight computers which allow aircraft such as the F-117, F-22 Raptor and B-2 Spirit to stay airborne. However, by the 1970s, when a Lockheed analyst reviewing foreign literature found Ufimtsev's paper, computers and software had advanced significantly, and the stage was set for the development of a stealthy airplane.

The F-117 was a black project, an ultra-secret program for much of its life, until the late 1980s. The decision to produce the F-117A was made in 1978, and a contract awarded to Lockheed Advanced Development Projects, popularly known as the "Skunk Works", in Burbank, California. The program was led by Ben Rich. Rich called on Bill Schroeder, a Lockheed mathematician, and Denys Overholser, a computer scientist, to exploit Ufimtsev's work. They designed a computer program called Echo, which made it possible to design an airplane with flat panels, called facets, which were arranged so as to scatter over 99% of a radar's signal energy "painting" the airplane.

The project began with a model called "The Hopeless Diamond" in 1975 due to its bizarre appearance. In 1977 Lockheed produced two 60% scale models under the Have Blue contract. The Have Blue program lasted from 1976 to 1979. The F-117 first flew in June 1981, only 31 months after the full-scale development decision. The first production F-117A was delivered in 1982, operational capability was achieved in October 1983, and the last of 59 airplanes was delivered in the summer of 1990. The Air Force denied the existence of the aircraft until 1988, when a grainy photograph was released to the public. In April 1990 two were flown into Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, arriving during daylight and visible to a crowd of tens of thousands.

As the Air Force has stated, "Streamlined management by Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, combined breakthrough stealth technology with concurrent development and production to rapidly field the aircraft... The F-117A program demonstrates that a stealth aircraft can be designed for reliability and maintainability." The aircraft maintenance statistics are comparable to other tactical fighters of similar complexity. Logistically supported by Sacramento Air Logistics Center, McClellan AFB, California, the F-117A is kept at the forefront of technology through a planned weapon system improvement program located at USAF Plant 42 at Palmdale, California.

Several of the F-117s were painted in a grey camouflage pattern in an experiment to determine the effectiveness of the F-117's stealth during daylight conditions. 2004 and 2005 saw several mid-life improvement programs implemented on the F-117, including an avionics upgrade.

Designation

The 59 operational aircraft have an official designation of "F-117A". The five Full Scale Development (FSD) aircraft are designated "YF-117A".

Most modern U.S. military aircraft use post-1962 designations in which the designation "F" is usually an air-to-air fighter, "B" is usually a bomber, "A" is usually a ground-attack aircraft, etc. (Examples include the F-15, the B-2, and the A-6.) The Stealth Fighter is primarily a ground-attack plane so its "F" designation is inaccurate.

The designation "F-117" would seem to indicate that it was given an official designation prior to the 1962 U.S. Tri-Service Aircraft Designation System and could be considered numerically to be a part of the earlier "Century series" of fighters. The assumption prior to the revealing of the aircraft to the public was that it would likely receive the designation F-19 as that number had not been used. However there were no other aircraft to receive a "100" series number following the F-111. The explanation is an example of general secrecy on the part of the U.S. Government. Captured Soviet fighters were given F-series numbers for their evaluation by U.S. test pilots, and with the advent of the "Teen Series" fighters, most often 'Century Series' designations.

As with other exotic military aircraft types flying in the southern Nevada area, such as captured fighters, an arbitrary radio call of "117" was assigned. This same radio call had been used by the enigmatic 4477th "Red Hats/Red Eagles" unit that often had flown expatriated MiGs in the area, but there was no relationship to the call and the formal F-19 designation then being considered by the Air Force. Apparently, use of the "117" radio call became commonplace and when Lockheed released its first flight manual ("dash one"), F-117A was the designation imprinted on the cover.

A recent televised documentary quoted a senior member of the F-117A development team as saying that the top-notch fighter pilots required to fly the new aircraft were more easily attracted to an "F" plane, as opposed to a "B" or "A" aircraft. Nicknames

The aircraft's official name is "Night Hawk", however the alternate form "Nighthawk" is frequently used.

Before it was given an official name, the engineers and test pilots referred to the ungainly aircraft, which went into hiding during daylight to avoid detection by Soviet satellites, as "Cockroach", a name that is still sometimes used. As it prioritized stealth over aerodynamics, the first model was nicknamed "The Hopeless Diamond". Similarly, it earned the nickname "Wobbly-Goblin" due to its alleged instability at low speeds; according to F-117 pilots, the nickname is undeserved. "Wobbly (or wobblin') Goblin" is very likely a holdover from the early Have Blue / Senior Trend (FSD) days of the project when instability was a problem. In the USAF, "Goblin" (without wobbly) persists as a nickname because of the aircraft's appearance. Locals in the area around Holloman Air Force Base refer to the aircraft simply as the "Stealth".

F-117 pilots call themselves "Bandits". Each of the 558 Air Force pilots who have flown the F-117 have a Bandit number, such as "Bandit 123", that indicates the sequential order of their first flight in the F-117.

Design

About the size of an F-15C Eagle, the single-seat F-117A is powered by two non-afterburning General Electric F404 turbofan engines, and has quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight controls. It is air refuelable. In order to lower development costs, the avionics, fly-by-wire systems, and other parts are derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet and F-15E Strike Eagle. The parts were originally described as spares on budgets for these aircraft, to keep the F-117 project secret.

Among the penalties for stealth are lower engine power thrust, due to losses in the inlet and outlet, a very low wing aspect ratio, and a high sweep angle (50°) needed to deflect incoming radar waves to the sides.

The F-117A is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a digital avionics suite. It carries no radar, which lowers emissions and cross-section. 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 a strike mission, including weapons release. Targets are acquired by a thermal imaging infrared system, slaved to a laser that finds the range and designates targets for laser-guided bombs.

The F-117A's split internal bay can carry 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) of ordnance. Typical weapons are a pair of GBU-10, GBU-12, or GBU-27 laser-guided bombs, two BLU-109 penetration bombs, or two Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), a GPS/INS guided stand-off bomb.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk engages its target and drops a GBU-28 guided bomb unit during the 'live-fire' weapons testing mission COMBAT HAMMERF-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk engages its target and drops a GBU-28 guided bomb unit during the 'live-fire' weapons testing mission COMBAT HAMMER

Operational history

During the program's early years, from 1984 to mid-1992, the F-117A fleet was based at Tonopah Test Range, Nevada where it served under the 4450th Tactical Group. However, because the F-117 was classified during this time, the 4450th Tactical Group was "officially" located at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada and equipped with A-7 Corsair II aircraft. The 4450th was absorbed by the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing in 1989. In 1992, the entire fleet was transferred to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, where it was placed under the command of the 49th Fighter Wing. The move eliminated the need for Key Air flights, which flew 22,000 passenger trips on 300 flights from Nellis to Tonopah per month.

The F-117 has been used several times in war. Its first mission was during the United States invasion of Panama in 1989. During that invasion two F-117A Nighthawks dropped two bombs on Rio Hato airfield.

During the Gulf War in 1991, the F-117A flew approximately 1,300 sorties and scored direct hits on 1,600 high-value targets in Iraq while flying 6,905 combat flying hours. The F-117 comprised only 2.5 percent of the American aircraft in Iraq yet struck more than 40 percent of the strategic targets. "During their mission, the F-117A pilots delivered over 2,000 tons of precision-guided ordnance with a hit rate of better than 80 percent. Although the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing Provisional and its 42 stealth fighters represented just 2.5 percent of all allied fighter and attack aircraft in the Gulf, the F-117As were assigned against more than 31 percent of the strategic Iraqi military targets attacked during the first 24 hours of the air campaign." However, during the war, it performed rather poorly in its dropping of smart bombs on Iraqi military targets, achieving a success rate of only 40%.

It was among the only U.S. or coalition aircraft to strike targets in downtown Baghdad. Among the aircraft the Nighthawk shared this distinction with were the F-16s which attacked Baghdad during daylight on 19 January 1991 during the "Package Q" mission - the largest single strike flown during the war.

Since moving to Holloman AFB in 1992, the F-117A and the men and women of the 49th Fighter Wing have deployed to Southwest Asia more than once. On their first trip, the F-117s flew non-stop from Holloman to Kuwait, a flight of approximately 18.5 hours – a record for single-seat fighters that stands today.

It has since been used in Operation Allied Force in 1999, Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 and in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Combat losses

One F-117 has been lost in combat, to the Yugoslav Army. On 27 March 1999, during the Kosovo War, the 3rd Battalion of the 250th Missile Brigade under the command of Colonel Zoltán Dani, equipped with the Isayev S-125 'Neva' (NATO designation SA-3 'Goa') anti-aircraft missile system, downed a F-117A callsign "Vega 31," serial number 82-806 with a Serbian improved Neva-M missile. According to NATO Commander Wesley Clark and other NATO generals, Yugoslav air defenses found that they could detect F-117s with their radars operating on unusually long wavelengths. This made them visible on radar screens for short times.

Reportedly several SA-3s were launched from approximately 8 miles out, one of which detonated in close proximity to the F-117A, forcing the pilot to eject. Though still classified, it has long been believed that the F-117 possesses no radar warning indicator, so the pilot's first indication of an incoming missile was likely seeing its flame. At this distance and combined speed the pilot had about 6 seconds to react before impact. According to an interview, Zoltán Dani was able to keep most of his missile sites intact by keeping them on the move, and had a number of spotters spread out looking for F-117s and other NATO aircraft, he also personally supervised the modification of his targeting radar to increase its wavelength. The commanders and crews of the SAMs guessed the flight paths of earlier F-117A strikes from rare radar spottings and positioned their SAM launchers and spotters accordingly. It is believed that the SA-3 crews and spotters were able to locate and track F-117A 82-806 visually, probably with the help of infra-red and night vision systems. He also claimed that his battery shot down an F-16 as well.

The F-117 pilot survived and was later rescued by U.S. Air Force Pararescue personnel. However, the wreckage of the F-117 was not promptly bombed, due to possible media fallout from news footage of civilians around the wreckage. The Serbs are believed to have invited Russian personnel to inspect the remains, inevitably compromising the then 25-year old U.S. stealth technology. Since the United States did not destroy the wreckage, the remains can still be seen today at the Museum of Aviation in Belgrade close to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. An error of assumption was made by many as to the identity of the pilot. While the name "Capt Ken 'Wiz' Dwelle" was painted on the canopy, it was made public in 2007 that the actual pilot was Lt Col. Dale Zelko, USAF.

Some American sources acknowledge that a second F-117A was also damaged during a raid in the same campaign, and although it made it back to its base, it supposedly never flew again. Retirement

Despite its successes in the Kosovo and Iraq Wars and its high mission-capable rate, the F-117 was nonetheless designed with late 1970s technologies. Its stealth technology, while still more advanced than that of any other aircraft except the B-2 Spirit, F-22 and F-35, is maintenance heavy. Furthermore, the facet-based stealth design has been surpassed by newer technology. Program Budget Decision 720 (PBD 720), dated 28 December 2005, proposed retiring the entire fleet by October 2008 to allow for buying more F-22As. PBD 720 called for 10 aircraft to be retired in FY 2007 and the remaining 42 aircraft in FY 2008 and stated there were other more capable Air Force assets that could provide low observable, precision penetrating weapons capability including the B-2, F-22 and JASSM. The Air Force originally planned to retire the F-117 in 2011. The Air Force later decided to retire the F-117 sooner to shift funds to modernizing the rest of the fleet. This would save an estimated $1.07 billion.

By late 2006, the Air Force had closed the F-117 pilot school, and announced the retirement of the F-117. The first six aircraft to be retired made the last flight on 12 March 2007 after a ceremony at Holloman AFB to commemorate the aircraft's storied career. Brigadier General David 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."

Unlike most other Air Force aircraft which are retired to Davis-Monthan AFB, the F-117s are being retired to the Tonopah Test Range. At Tonopah, their wings will be removed and the aircraft will be stored in their original hangars. On 11 March 2008 it was reported that the last F-117s in service would touch down on 22 April 2008 in Tonopah Test Range Airfield in Nevada, the site of the F-117's first flight. The F-117 was retired during ceremonies at Palmdale and Tonopah on 22 April 2008. Four aircraft were kept flying beyond April by the 410th Flight Test Squadron at Palmdale for flight test. By the beginning of August, two were remaining, and the last F-117 left Palmdale to fly to Tonopah on 11 August 2008. With the last aircraft leaving for retirement, the 410th was inactivated in a ceremony on 1 August 2008. Aircraft on display

The first YF-117A is currently on pedestal display at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (N36°13'38.00", W115° 3'33.28") and can be seen from outside the base from Nellis Blvd. The second YF-117A is currently on static display at the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The third YF-117A built is on static display at Holloman Air Force Base, repainted to resemble the first F-117A used to drop weapons in combat. The fourth YF-117A built is currently on static display in the Blackbird Airpark at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. Parts of a F-117A are also on display at the Museum of Aviation in Belgrade.

More photos:

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, lands at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, in support of local Exercise CORONET NIGHTHAWK.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, lands at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, in support of local Exercise CORONET NIGHTHAWK.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) 49th Fighter Wing (FW) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, deploys its drag parachute in order to slow its speed on the Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, runway.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) 49th Fighter Wing (FW) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, deploys its drag parachute in order to slow its speed on the Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, runway.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter front: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter aircraft flies over Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), during the joint service experimentation process dubbed Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02). Sponsored by the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the MC02 experiment explores how Effects Based Operations (EBO) can provide an integrated joint context for conducting rapid, decisive operations (RDO).F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter front: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter aircraft flies over Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), during the joint service experimentation process dubbed Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02). Sponsored by the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the MC02 experiment explores how Effects Based Operations (EBO) can provide an integrated joint context for conducting rapid, decisive operations (RDO).

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Major (MAJ) James Johnson, F-117A Nighthawk aircraft Pilot assigned to the 9th Fighter Squadron (FS), climbs into the cockpit of his aircraft for a training mission at Spangdahlem Air Base (AB), GermanyF-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Major (MAJ) James Johnson, F-117A Nighthawk aircraft Pilot assigned to the 9th Fighter Squadron (FS), climbs into the cockpit of his aircraft for a training mission at Spangdahlem Air Base (AB), Germany

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter aircraft flies a fueling mission with a USAF KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 97th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), over Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), during the joint service experimentation process dubbed Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02). Sponsored by the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the MC02 experiment explores how Effects Based Operations (EBO) can provide an integrated joint context for conducting rapid, decisive operations (RDO).F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter aircraft flies a fueling mission with a USAF KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 97th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), over Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), during the joint service experimentation process dubbed Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02). Sponsored by the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the MC02 experiment explores how Effects Based Operations (EBO) can provide an integrated joint context for conducting rapid, decisive operations (RDO).F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk aircraft (foreground) taxies onto the runway in front of a large crowd during Aerospace and Arizona Days Air Show held at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) Arizona (AZ). The F-117A performed multiple flyovers of the base showcasing its capabilities to the more than 300,000 guests that attended the two-day show.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk aircraft (foreground) taxies onto the runway in front of a large crowd during Aerospace and Arizona Days Air Show held at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) Arizona (AZ). The F-117A performed multiple flyovers of the base showcasing its capabilities to the more than 300,000 guests that attended the two-day show.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk, 49th Fighter Wing (FW), Holloman AFB, New Mexico, connects for a scheduled air refueling by the 22nd Air Refueling Squadron (ARS), Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, during the last day of RED FLAG.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk, 49th Fighter Wing (FW), Holloman AFB, New Mexico, connects for a scheduled air refueling by the 22nd Air Refueling Squadron (ARS), Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, during the last day of RED FLAG.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, lands at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, in support of local Exercise CORONET NIGHTHAWK.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, lands at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, in support of local Exercise CORONET NIGHTHAWK.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Congressmen Steve Pearce, Republican from New Mexico (NM), sits in the cockpit of a US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter during his tour of Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New MexicoF-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Congressmen Steve Pearce, Republican from New Mexico (NM), sits in the cockpit of a US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter during his tour of Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Senior Airman (SRA) Michael Bodewitz, an F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Crew Chief, inspects the canopy for any signs of maintenance problems while in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, at a forward deployed base in Southwest Asia.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Senior Airman (SRA) Michael Bodewitz, an F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Crew Chief, inspects the canopy for any signs of maintenance problems while in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, at a forward deployed base in Southwest Asia.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: The first US Air Force (USAF) F-117 Stealth Fighter/Bomber returns from a mission over Iraq in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: The first US Air Force (USAF) F-117 Stealth Fighter/Bomber returns from a mission over Iraq in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Senior Airman (SRA) Michael Bodewitz, an F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Crew Chief, inspects the canopy for any signs of maintenance problems while in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, at a forward deployed base in Southwest Asia.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Senior Airman (SRA) Michael Bodewitz, an F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Crew Chief, inspects the canopy for any signs of maintenance problems while in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, at a forward deployed base in Southwest Asia.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, lands at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, in support of local Exercise CORONET NIGHTHAWK, so that pilots can apply and practice international flight rules and allow US Air Forces In Europe (USAFE) people to practice flight operationsF-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, lands at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, in support of local Exercise CORONET NIGHTHAWK, so that pilots can apply and practice international flight rules and allow US Air Forces In Europe (USAFE) people to practice flight operations

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk passes the Mountain Home Air Force Base (AFB) control tower during take off. The three-day air show celebrated 100 years of aviation and 60 years of airpower in Idaho.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk passes the Mountain Home Air Force Base (AFB) control tower during take off. The three-day air show celebrated 100 years of aviation and 60 years of airpower in Idaho.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter sits on display at the Royal International Air Tattoo. This air show is the largest military air show in the world, held at Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, EnglandF-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter sits on display at the Royal International Air Tattoo. This air show is the largest military air show in the world, held at Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, England

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing (FW) lands at Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia (VA), during a scheduled stopover as the aircraft redeploys to its home base at Holloman AFB New Mexico (NM). The 49th FW is returning from Iraq following a deployment supporting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing (FW) lands at Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia (VA), during a scheduled stopover as the aircraft redeploys to its home base at Holloman AFB New Mexico (NM). The 49th FW is returning from Iraq following a deployment supporting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117 Stealth Fighter aircraft from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico (NM), taxis toward the end of the runway at Kunsan Air Base (AB), Republic of KoreaF-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117 Stealth Fighter aircraft from Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico (NM), taxis toward the end of the runway at Kunsan Air Base (AB), Republic of Korea

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: U.S. Air Force F-117 Nighthawk aircraft fly in formation over New Mexico Oct. 27, 2006. The formation was part of the stealth fighter's 25th anniversary and 250,000 flying-hour celebration at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The formation consisted of 25 planes staggered into five separate groups. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Russell Scalf)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: U.S. Air Force F-117 Nighthawk aircraft fly in formation over New Mexico Oct. 27, 2006. The formation was part of the stealth fighter's 25th anniversary and 250,000 flying-hour celebration at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The formation consisted of 25 planes staggered into five separate groups. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Russell Scalf)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft from the 9th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS), takes off for a mission during an Operational Readiness Exercise (ORE) at Kunsan Air Base (AB), Korea (KOR). U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Michael HolzworthF-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A US Air Force (USAF) F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft from the 9th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS), takes off for a mission during an Operational Readiness Exercise (ORE) at Kunsan Air Base (AB), Korea (KOR). U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Michael Holzworth

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Airmen, 49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron (SQDN), Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico (NM), marshal an F-117A Nighthawk during an end of runway check at Kunsan Air Base (AB), Korea (KOR).F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Airmen, 49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron (SQDN), Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico (NM), marshal an F-117A Nighthawk during an end of runway check at Kunsan Air Base (AB), Korea (KOR).

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Staff Sergeant (SSGT) John Chandler of the 9th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) helps taxi an F-117 Stealth Fighter aircraft into a transient alert pad at Kunsan Air Base (AB) Republic of Korea (ROK).F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: US Air Force (USAF) Staff Sergeant (SSGT) John Chandler of the 9th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) helps taxi an F-117 Stealth Fighter aircraft into a transient alert pad at Kunsan Air Base (AB) Republic of Korea (ROK).

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A U.S. Air Force F-117 Nighthawk aircraft does a fly by during exercise Sentry Eagle at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 11, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Hughel)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A U.S. Air Force F-117 Nighthawk aircraft does a fly by during exercise Sentry Eagle at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 11, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Hughel)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117A Nighthawk aircraft assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing taxies after a legacy flight for the Holloman Air and Space Expo on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 26, 2007. The Holloman Air and Space Expo is a showcase of Air Force capabilities, the 49th Fighter Wing mission and the X Prize Foundation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117A Nighthawk aircraft assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing taxies after a legacy flight for the Holloman Air and Space Expo on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 26, 2007. The Holloman Air and Space Expo is a showcase of Air Force capabilities, the 49th Fighter Wing mission and the X Prize Foundation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk aircraft taxies to conduct a flyover during the aircraft's farewell ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, March 11, 2008. The aircraft is scheduled for retirement in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Strang)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk aircraft taxies to conduct a flyover during the aircraft's farewell ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, March 11, 2008. The aircraft is scheduled for retirement in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Strang)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk, an F-22 Raptor, an F-4 Phantom, and an F-15 Falcon aircraft fly over Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., while performing a Holloman Legacy Flight Oct. 27, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk, an F-22 Raptor, an F-4 Phantom, and an F-15 Falcon aircraft fly over Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., while performing a Holloman Legacy Flight Oct. 27, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk taxis down the runway before its flight during the Holloman Air and Space Expo at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 27, 2007.F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk taxis down the runway before its flight during the Holloman Air and Space Expo at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 27, 2007.

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: NEW MEXICO -- The F-117A Nighthawk Stealth fighter from the 49th Fighter Wing, 9th Fighter Squadron "Iron Knights," from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Flies a training mission over the New Mexico desert. The F-117 is the world's first operational aircraft designed to exploit low-observable stealth technology. The unique design of the single-seat F-117A provides exceptional combat capabilities. Air refuelable, it supports worldwide commitments and adds to the deterrent strength of the U.S. military forces. The F-117A can employ a variety of weapons and is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a state-of-the-art digital avionics suite that increases mission effectiveness and reduces pilot workload. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Andy Dunaway)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: NEW MEXICO -- The F-117A Nighthawk Stealth fighter from the 49th Fighter Wing, 9th Fighter Squadron "Iron Knights," from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Flies a training mission over the New Mexico desert. The F-117 is the world's first operational aircraft designed to exploit low-observable stealth technology. The unique design of the single-seat F-117A provides exceptional combat capabilities. Air refuelable, it supports worldwide commitments and adds to the deterrent strength of the U.S. military forces. The F-117A can employ a variety of weapons and is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a state-of-the-art digital avionics suite that increases mission effectiveness and reduces pilot workload. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: Two F-117 Nighthawk aircraft from the 49th Fighter Wing out of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., fly in formation March 12, 2008, during a refueling mission over Ohio. The aircraft were refueled by U.S. Air Force Airmen from the Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Air Refueling Wing. This marks the last refueling mission for the aircraft, which are being retired in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: Two F-117 Nighthawk aircraft from the 49th Fighter Wing out of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., fly in formation March 12, 2008, during a refueling mission over Ohio. The aircraft were refueled by U.S. Air Force Airmen from the Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Air Refueling Wing. This marks the last refueling mission for the aircraft, which are being retired in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk aircraft from the 49th Fighter Wing out of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., is refueled during a mission over Ohio March 12, 2008. The aircraft were refueled by U.S. Air Force Airmen from the Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Air Refueling Wing. This marks the last refueling mission for the aircraft, which are being retired in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk aircraft from the 49th Fighter Wing out of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., is refueled during a mission over Ohio March 12, 2008. The aircraft were refueled by U.S. Air Force Airmen from the Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Air Refueling Wing. This marks the last refueling mission for the aircraft, which are being retired in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk aircraft from the 49th Fighter Wing out of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., is refueled during a mission over Ohio March 12, 2008. The aircraft were refueled by U.S. Air Force Airmen from the Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Air Refueling Wing. This marks the last refueling mission for the aircraft, which are being retired in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: An F-117 Nighthawk aircraft from the 49th Fighter Wing out of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., is refueled during a mission over Ohio March 12, 2008. The aircraft were refueled by U.S. Air Force Airmen from the Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Air Refueling Wing. This marks the last refueling mission for the aircraft, which are being retired in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: Attendees and members of the media watch as an F-117 Nighthawk aircraft taxies to park during the aircraft's farewell ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, March 11, 2008. The aircraft is scheduled for retirement in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Strang)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: Attendees and members of the media watch as an F-117 Nighthawk aircraft taxies to park during the aircraft's farewell ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, March 11, 2008. The aircraft is scheduled for retirement in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Strang)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: Attendees and members of the media watch as an F-117 Nighthawk aircraft taxies to park during the aircraft's farewell ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, March 11, 2008. The aircraft is scheduled for retirement in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Strang)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: Attendees and members of the media watch as an F-117 Nighthawk aircraft taxies to park during the aircraft's farewell ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, March 11, 2008. The aircraft is scheduled for retirement in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Strang)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: NEW MEXICO -- The F-117A Nighthawk Stealth fighter from the 49th Fighter Wing, 9th Fighter Squadron "Iron Knights," from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. flies a training mission over the New Mexico desert. One of only two operational Nighthawk squadrons, the 9th deploys world wide using special low-observable technologies to deliver precision guided weapons against heavily defended targets. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Andy Dunaway)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: NEW MEXICO -- The F-117A Nighthawk Stealth fighter from the 49th Fighter Wing, 9th Fighter Squadron "Iron Knights," from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. flies a training mission over the New Mexico desert. One of only two operational Nighthawk squadrons, the 9th deploys world wide using special low-observable technologies to deliver precision guided weapons against heavily defended targets. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A B-2 Spirit bomber is followed by two F-117 Nighthawks during a mission. The B-2 is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses. (U.S. Air Force photo)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: A B-2 Spirit bomber is followed by two F-117 Nighthawks during a mission. The B-2 is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- An F-117 Nighthawk flies over the Nevada desert. The unique design of the single-seat F-117 provides exceptional combat capabilities. The fighter can employ a variety of weapons and is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a digital avionics suite that increases mission effectiveness and reduces pilot workload. Detailed planning for missions into highly defended target areas is accomplished by an automated mission planning system developed, specifically, to take advantage of the unique capabilities of the Nighthawk. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron D. Allmon II)F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter: NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- An F-117 Nighthawk flies over the Nevada desert. The unique design of the single-seat F-117 provides exceptional combat capabilities. The fighter can employ a variety of weapons and is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a digital avionics suite that increases mission effectiveness and reduces pilot workload. Detailed planning for missions into highly defended target areas is accomplished by an automated mission planning system developed, specifically, to take advantage of the unique capabilities of the Nighthawk. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron D. Allmon II)

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