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6 Facts about the F-117 Nighthawk, a US Stealth Aircraft that Has Been Retired

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    6 Facts about the F-117 Nighthawk, a US Stealth Aircraft that Has Been Retired

    Stealth fighter aircraft are one of the masterpieces in the world of military aviation. It is nicknamed stealth because the aircraft is able to enter enemy territory without being detected by the radar and air defense systems of the area it enters.

    The F-117 Nighthawk is a first generation stealth aircraft belonging to the United States Air Force (US) which was operational until it was officially retired in 2008. Its task is to carry out precision destruction of the enemy's vital and strategic targets which are protected by a strong defense system which is very difficult for ordinary fighter aircraft to penetrate.

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

    1. First flight in 1981


    The F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft project was a highly classified project by the US military in the 1970s. This aircraft was developed to respond to the urgent need for a fighter aircraft capable of operating without being detected by the enemy.

    The Lockheed Martin factory-made demonstrator aircraft design was selected 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. Reported by Lockheed Martin, the F-117 Nighthawk first flew in 1981 and entered operational service with the US Air Force in 1983.

    The existence of this 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 with 5 of them being prototype aircraft.

    2. It is an attack aircraft


    6 Facts about the F-117 Nighthawk, a US Stealth Aircraft that Has Been Retired

    Even though it has the code prefix "F" in front of its name which means "Fighter", the F-117 Nighthawk is actually an attack aircraft. The F-117 Nighthawk does not have the capability to conduct air-to-air combat (dog fight) with other fighter aircraft in the air.

    As an attack aircraft, its task on the battlefield is to destroy the enemy's vital and strategic targets with the smart bombs it carries. One of the smart bombs that can be carried by the F-117 Nighthawk is the GBU (Guided Bomb Unit)-27 Paveway III, a bomb that is capable of penetrating bunkers with thick reinforced concrete structures before finally exploding inside them, this weapon is a nightmare for its enemies.

    On the battlefield, the F-117 Nighthawk carries out missions when darkness falls. Hiding in the dark of night and very difficult to detect by radar, its presence is greatly feared by the enemy.

    3. Has a unique design


    The F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft has a unique design that is different from fighter aircraft in general. Reported by the airforce-technology page, the surfaces and corners are optimized to reflect enemy radar and all the doors and opening panels of the aircraft have serrations on the front and rear edges to reflect radar.

    This stealth aircraft has the main construction of aluminum with titanium in the engine area and gas exhaust system. The outer surface is coated with a special radar-absorbing material. It has a sophisticated avionics system and is powered by 2 F404-GE-F1D2 engines made by General Electric which are capable of accelerating the aircraft to a maximum speed of around 1,000km/hour

    4. Fighter aircraft that have been proven on real battlefields


    The F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft is a combat aircraft that has been tested on real battlefields (battle proven). Reported by Lockheed Martin, the F-117 Nighthawk was involved in military operations for the first time during the Just Cause operation in Panama in 1989-1990.

    These aircraft have also been involved in large-scale wars, including: the Gulf War in 1990-1991 (Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm), the Balkan War in 1999 and the Iraqi Liberation War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) which took place from 2003 to 2003. 2011.

    One of its effectiveness was proven in the Desert Storm operation in 1990-1991, operational F-117 Nighthawks only represented 2% of all combat sorties but succeeded in destroying 40% of strategic targets.

    5. One plane was shot down by the enemy in the Balkan war


    6 Facts about the F-117 Nighthawk, a US Stealth Aircraft that Has Been Retired

    The F-117 Nighthawk is recorded in history as having been shot down by the Serbian troops' air defense system when NATO launched air strikes on Serbian troops' positions in 1999.

    That night an F-117 Nighthawk with the call code Vega 31 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Serbian airspace. The plane was destroyed but the pilot managed to eject and was rescued by a team of combat SAR troops who moved quickly to evacuate.

    The shooting down of a stealth plane became big news in a number of world mass media. Some analysts say visual observations by Serbian spies as the plane took off from its base in Italy combined with careful estimates of the plane's travel time to target until its detection by Serbian air defense systems when the plane opened its weapons bay are thought to be a number of factors that led to the F-117 Nighthawks can be shot down.

    6. Is a basis for developing stealth technology for the future


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

    Reported by the airforce-technology page, after being officially retired in 2008, this aircraft was to be replaced by the latest generation of aircraft which also have stealth characteristics such as the F-22 Raptor, but this program was canceled in 2009 and replaced with a cheaper program using The newest fighter jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is more versatile than the Raptor fighter jet.

    Over time, aerospace technology is developing very rapidly, new technology that has just been discovered in a short time can soon become obsolete and be replaced by newer technology, the same thing also happens in stealth aircraft technology which becomes increasingly sophisticated over time.

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