Lockheed F-117


The first thing to say about this aircraft is that it is not a fighter in spite of its designation and popular mythology.  This strike aircraft has a particular mission: to attack well-protected targets that will damage an enemy’s ability to conduct warfare.  These are usually command and control facilities whose destruction will ‘decapitate’ the enemy forces.

The F-117A Nighthawk entered service with the United States Air Force in 1982, following nearly ten years of development.  The aircraft utilises various design traits and new technologies to achieve a remarkable level of ‘stealth’ capability through absorbing or deflecting radar beams and reducing heat signatures to a minimum.  Designed for night-time ground attack operations over what are called dense threat environments in the European theatre, the Nighthawk would have been virtually undetectable to Soviet radar systems.  It subsequently proved its worth in Panama and Iraq.

Although flawed in many ways, including manoeuvrability and speed, it was a pioneer and the first in a new generation of stealth-capable aircraft.

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