6 Facts about the Retired F-117 Nighthawk, the US Stealth Aircraft

6 Facts about the Retired F-117 Nighthawk, the US Stealth Aircraft

F-117 Nighthawk

F-117 Nighthawk


Netgenz - Sains | The stealth fighter is a masterpiece in the world of military aviation. Called stealth because the plane was able to enter the enemy's area without being identified by the radar and air defense mechanisms of the area are entered. The F-117 Nighthawk is the first stealth aircraft of the United States Air Force (US) which has been operational until it was officially retired in 2008. His job is to accurately destroy important and vital targets of the opponent who is protected by a powerful defense mechanism that is most difficult to penetrate by ordinary warplanes.

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Want to know more about the F-117 Nighthawk? Here's the explanation!


1. First fly in 1981

Photo of the F-117 Nighthawk in the air

Photo of the F-117 Nighthawk in the air


Project F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft was the most secret project by the US military in the 1970s. It was developed to respond to the pressing need for a fighter capable of working unnoticed by the opposing faction.

The design of the Lockheed Martin demonstrator aircraft was decided by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract to manufacture the stealth aircraft which would later be named the F-117 Nighthawk. According to Lockheed Martin, the F-117 Nighthawk first flew in 1981 and entered service with the US Air Force in 1983.

The arrival of the stealth aircraft was kept secret for some time until it was officially shown to the public in 1990. Lockheed Martin produced a total of 64 aircraft, 5 of which were archetypes.

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2. As a striker plane

F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft as striker aircraft

F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft as striker aircraft


Although it has the code prefix "F" in front of its name which means "Fighter" but actually the F-117 Nighthawk is a striker aircraft. The F-117 Nighthawk does not have the competence to do dog fights with other fighter aircraft in the air.

As a striker plane, his job on the battlefield is to destroy important and vital targets of the opponent with the smart bombs he carries. One of the smart bombs that the F-117 Nighthawk can carry is the GBU (Guided Bomb Unit) -27 Paveway III, a bomb that can penetrate a bunker with a thick reinforced concrete structure before it last exploded in it, this weapon became a nightmare for his opponent. On the battlefield, the F-117 Nighthawk performs visions when darkness falls. Hiding behind the dark night and really hard to detect by radar, his presence really scared the opponent.

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3. Has a unique design

The F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft has a unique shape and design


The F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft has a unique design that is different from other fighter aircraft in general. Quoted from the airforce-technology website, the surface and angles are maximized to reflect enemy radar and all doors and opening panels of the aircraft have serrations on the front and rear edges to reflect radar. This stealth aircraft has a special aluminum construction with titanium in the engine housing and exhaust mechanism. . The outer surface is coated with a special radar-absorbing material. Has a great avionics mechanism and is equipped with 2 F404-GE-F1D2 engines made by General Electric which can jump-start the aircraft to a maximum speed of around 1,000km/hour.

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4. Fighter aircraft that can be proven on the actual battlefield

Photos of some of the F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft doing schematic flight

Photos of some of the F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft doing schematic flight


F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft as a fighter that has been proven on the actual battlefield (battle-proven). Quoted by Lockheed Martin, the F-117 Nighthawk took part in the first military operation of the Just Cause operation in Panama in 1989-1990.

The aircraft has participated in many wars, including the Gulf War in 1990-1991 (Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm), the Balkan War in 1999, and the War of Iraqi Freedom (Operation Iraqi Freedom) which ran from 2003 to 2011. One of its effectiveness can be proven in the Desert Storm operation in 1990-1991, the operational F-117 Nighthawk only represented 2% of all combat sorties but managed to damage 40% of vital targets.

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5. One shot down the opponent in the Balkan war

The wreckage of the F-117 Nighthawk shot down in the 1999 Balkan war

The wreckage of the F-117 Nighthawk shot down in the 1999 Balkan war


"As smart as a squirrel jumps, one time falls", the adage apparently applies to the F-117 Nighthawk which was successfully shot down by the air defense mechanisms of Serbian troops when NATO launched an air raid on Serbian troops status in 1999.

That night an F-117 Nighthawk codenamed Vega 31 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Serbian airspace. The plane was crashed but the pilot managed to eject and was helped by a team of combat SAR troops who moved quickly to rescue.

The shooting down of a stealth plane became big news for several world mass media. Some research explains visual assessments by Serbian spies when the plane took off from its base in Italy combined with a careful prediction of the plane's short cut time to the target until the identification of the plane by Serbian air defense mechanisms when the plane opened its weapons room was predicted to be several factors that caused the F-117 Nighthawks can be shot down.

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6. As a base for improving stealth technology for the future

Photo of an F-117 Nighthawk in its main hangar


History writes that the F-117 Nighthawk was the first stealth aircraft in the world to be operational until it was officially retired in 2008. His name has become a certain legend in the world of military aerospace.

Quoted from the airforce-technology website, after being officially retired in 2008, this aircraft will be replaced by aircraft of the latest generation that has stealth characteristics such as the F-22 Raptor, but the program was canceled in 2009 and replaced with a cheaper program using jets. the latest fighter F-35 Join the Strike Fighter which is more versatile than the Raptor fighter jet.

Along with time, aerospace technology is developing very quickly, new technologies that have just been discovered in an instant can quickly become obsolete and be replaced with newer technologies, the same thing happens in stealth aircraft technology which is getting more and more powerful day by day.

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