JORGE A. DIETSCH COLLECTION
No. 11808. Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk (85-0816 c/n A.4046) US Air Force
Photographed at MCAS Miramar, San Diego, California, USA, October 21, 2002, by Jorge Dietsch

Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk

03/31/2013. Development of the F-117A, a precision attack fighter with stealth elements, optimized for radar energy dispersion and low IR emission, began with an USAF Flight Dynamics Laboratory contract to Lockheed Advanced Development Projects (Skunk Works). Funded by DARPA under the Have Blue program, two XST (Experimental Stealth Technology) proof of concept prototypes were produced, each powered by two 2,500-2,800 lb (1,134-1,270 kg) s.t General Electric CJ610 turbojets.

These XST-1 and XST-2 were similar in appearance to later F-117, but smaller, with inward-canted ruddervators, a 5 larger leading-edge sweep of 72 30', and a four-window canopy. Span 22 ft 0 in (6.71 m), length 38 ft 0 in (11.58 m), max takeoff weight 12,000 lb (5,443 kg). The first flight was made by William C. Park at Groom Lake, Nevada, December 1977, XST-1 crashed May 4, 1978, and XST-2 crashed at Tonopah Test Range in 1980. Despite these crashes the program was considered a resounding success.

Development of operational F-117A started November 1978 under the Senior Trend program, and construction of the first of five full-scale development production aircraft (79-10780 to 79-10785, c/n FSD-1 to FSD-5) started in October 1979, and it first flew June 18, 1981. Four of these are presently on display at various locations. Planned production of 100 aircraft was reduced to 59, and the first was hand-over to the USAF on August 23, 1982, but the first official picture and designation were not released until November 10, 1988.

The F-117A made its first operational deployment in Operation Just Cause over Panama, on December 21, 1989, when two F-117As each dropped a 907 kg (2,000 Ib) laser-guided bomb on barracks area at Rio Hato. All 56 in-service F-117As participated in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq, flying some 1,270 missions. By April 21, 2008, all remaining F-117As had been withdrawn from service and were stored.

Created March 31, 2013