Aircrafts / Fighters / United States / F-117 Nighthawk


Number of Engines 2
Total Thrust (kg) 9 796
Length (m) 20.30
Height (m) 3.80
Wingspan (m) 13.30
Top Speed (km/h) 1 073
Ceiling (m) 13 716
Max. Takeoff Weight (kg) 24 040
Range (km) 4 000
Crew 1
Date Deployed 1982
Unit Cost ($) 122 000 000
Overview Background Gallery

The first F-117A was delivered in 1982, and the last delivery was in the summer of 1990. 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 was in 1981, only 31 months after the full-scale development decision. Lockheed-Martin delivered 59 stealth fighters to the Air Force between August 1982 and July 1990. Five additional test aircraft belong to the company.

Air Combat Command's only F-117A unit, the 4450th Tactical Group, achieved operational capability in October 1983. Since the F-117’s first Air Force flight in 1982, the aircraft has flown under different unit designations, including the 4450th Tactical Group and the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing at Tonapah Test Range, NV; the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing, Nellis AFB, NV; the 410th Flight Test Squadron/410th Test Squadron, Palmdale, CA; and Detachment 1, Test Evaluation Group, also at Holloman, which falls under the 53rd Wing, Eglin AFB, FL.

The stealth fighter emerged from the classified world while stationed at Tonapah Airfield with an announcement by the Pentagon in November 1988 and was first shown publicly at Nellis in April 1990. The 4450th TG was deactivated in October 1989, and was reactivated as the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing.

In 1992 the F-117A Nighthawk made its new home at Holloman Air Force Base. The official arrival ceremony for the F-117 to Holloman AFB was conducted 09 May 1992. The 49th Fighter Wing (49FW) at Holloman serves as the only F-117 Home Station. The 49th Operations Group operates and maintains the F-117A aircraft. The 7th CTS "Screamin' Demons" serves as the transition training unit, preparing experienced Air Force pilots for assignment to the F-117A Nighthawk. The 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons are designated to employ the F-117A Nighthawk in combat. Once an F-117 pilot has successfully completed training, he is then assigned to one of only two operational Nighthawk squadrons--the 8th FS "Black Sheep" and the 9th FS "Flying Knights." The 49FW provides full compliment of flightline maintenance capabilities as well as back-shop support. The F-117 deploys in support of contingency operations, as directed by National Command Authorities. Flightline maintenance support is deployed concurrent with the aircraft. Depending on the deployment duration, varying levels of back shop maintenance support may also be deployed.

The F-117A first saw action in December 1989 during Operation Just Cause in Panama.

The stealth fighter attacked the most heavily fortified targets during Desert Storm (January-February 1991) , and it was the only coalition jet allowed to strike targets inside Baghdad's city limits. The F-117A, which normally packs a payload of two 2,000-pound GBU-27 laser-guided bombs, destroyed and crippled Iraqi electrical power stations, military headquarters, communications sites, air defense operation centers, airfields, ammo bunkers, and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons plants.

Although only 36 stealth fighters were deployed in Desert Storm and accounted for 2.5 percent of the total force of 1,900 fighters and bombers, they flew more than a third of the bombing runs on the first day of the war. In all during Desert Storm, the stealth fighter conducted more than 1,250 sorties, dropped more than 2,000 tons of bombs, and flew more than 6,900 hours. More than 3,000 antiaircraft guns and 60 surface-to-air missile batteries protected the city, but despite this seemingly impenetrable shield, the Nighthawks owned the skies over the city and, for that matter, the country. The stealth fighter, which is coated with a secret, radar-absorbent material, operated over Iraq and Kuwait with impunity, and was unscathed by enemy guns.

In the opening phase of Allied Force, aimed primarily at Yugoslavia's integrated air defense system, NATO air forces conducted more than 400 sorties. During the first two night attacks, allied troops in the air and at sea struck 90 targets throughout Yugoslavia and in Kosovo. F-117 Nighthawks from the 8th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base NM participated in air strikes against targets in the Balkans during NATO operations. One F-117 fighter was lost over Yugoslavia on 27 March 1999. A US search and rescue team picked up the pilot several hours after the F-117 went down outside Belgrade. On 01 April 1999, Defense Secretary William Cohen directed 12 more F-117 stealth fighters to join NATO Operation Allied Force, to join the total of 24 F-117s that were participating in NATO Operation Allied Force.

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