The Retired F-117A Nighthawk Is Doing...Something...in the Desert

Popular Mechanics | 7/15/2019 | Staff


The F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter, the world’s first purpose-designed stealth aircraft, was recently sighted high in the skies over Death Valley, California. The fighter, part of a fleet of jets retired in 2008, was sporting a brand new camouflage paint job and accompanied by a NASA jet and aerial refueling tanker. What was it doing? That’s anyone’s guess.

The F-117A was spotted on by plane spotter Steve Lewis on July 11. The fighter was refueling from a KC-135R Stratotanker and was accompanied by a NASA F-15D fighter. Intriguingly, the F-15D was “carrying an unidentified podded sensor under its starboard wing.” The plane completed refueling and then headed east to Nevada.

F-117A - Nighthawk - World - Aircraft - Stealth

The F-117A Nighthawk was the world’s first aircraft with stealth as a major—if not the primary—design factor. The alien-looking F-117 featured a diamond-like, faceted exterior designed to reduce radar returns and minimize its signature on enemy radars. This allowed it to sneak past enemy air defenses, attack targets on the ground with GBU-27 Paveway laser-guided bombs, and sneak back out again.

Although commonly called a “stealth fighter,” this was a misnomer. It did not have the ability to engage other aircraft and was strictly an attack plane or light...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Popular Mechanics
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