F-117 flies again

rooster

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Everyone knows I am just an enthusiast here. That said, why are we keeping the nighthawks flying when there are better options for "stealth" platforms to train against? What happened to the Boeing and NG drones, for example? If they are just keeping - I am guessing - 3 or 4 nighthawks flying, isn't it more costly than the drones we had built and flown?
 

TomS

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Everyone knows I am just an enthusiast here. That said, why are we keeping the nighthawks flying when there are better options for "stealth" platforms to train against? What happened to the Boeing and NG drones, for example? If they are just keeping - I am guessing - 3 or 4 nighthawks flying, isn't it more costly than the drones we had built and flown?

There's still a lot to be said in favor of having a real live brain in the cockpit for a test or training evolution.
 

stealthflanker

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Yeah, as long as there is manned platform, one would also need a manned platform to simulate things. e.g Chinese or Russian stealth bomber which would be manned.
 

TomS

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It also likely helps that there is a sizable fleet of mothballed aircraft to cannibalize for parts to keep the few current F-117s flying.
 

Archibald

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I was really not surprised some years ago when some F-117 become airworthy again. Stealth platforms are scarce and expensive (although the F-35 may change that, being the first mass produced one) and thus a fleet of 50 F-117 is too good to be lost.

The F-117 fleet still had plenty of useful life left when it was retired. It was done as an "economy measure" because it was too small (50 airframes left ?) and expensive to maintain (old stealth coating from the 70's...)

Now all these issues vanish into thin air for a small experimental fleet. Which is flown "NASA / X-plane" style, not much.

Finally, as noted, with 50 airframes if only 5 are flying, there are 9 airframes in storage to support each one.
 

Dilandu

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Probably some kind of anti-stealth training - like detection and interception of stealth aircraft. Currently, USAF did not have the monopoly on stealth anymore, so it make sense to use F-117 as "stealth aggressors" for military exercises. To train the personnel, and to develop tactics against opponent's stealth crafts.
 

kitnut617

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Not too long ago, there were some photos posted on SPF of these F-117 flying in one of the recent exercises
 

TomcatViP

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Well it's better to train blue force in counter-stealth with a phased-out design than inadvertently teach the red force how to shot down your last assets. :rolleyes:

Amazing that a late 70's design can still do the trick.
 
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BDF

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Part of Type 1000 storage requires some A/C operations to keep MX and pilots currency on the type as well as exercising the jets. This doesn't mean that they're not being used as training or testing but part of Type 1000 storage requirements is occasionally flying the jets.
 

RavenOne

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3 decades and fortnight ago Desert Storm kicked off with the Wobbly Goblin seine action for second time ...

Anyhow reminiscent of this the 117 has been cleared to being tanked up.


cheers
 

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May I throw a couple of thoughts in to see what saner heads may think.

The design shape is still sound as the physics hasn't changed and the RAM panels were removable. Bearing in mind that the original fleet were built in total secrecy is it possible that the fleet has been rotated through rebuild with better RAM, systems etc. It would be a good choice for certain scenarios and quite cost effective.
Related to the above the F-117 could be a good candidate for autonomous drone conversion. With several demonstrators proving the technology already a human input would only be needed as oversight if something unexpected is found. Sharp eyes and a clear head would add volumes to the data gathered.
 

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It wouldn’t surprise if the flying examples haven’t been upgraded in multiple ways not just their skins. Betting their avionics and the like are all upgraded.

Could the F-117 be upgraded with something like the F-35’s radar absorbing fibermat coating?
 

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Could the F-117 be upgraded with something like the F-35’s radar absorbing fibermat coating?

It's possible, but I don't think so. One of the advantages of flying the old 117 is that no new sensitive technology is exposed.
Then in many theaters 1980s tech is still relevant (Iran for example).
Other less sensitive coatings are available and would be IMOHO prime candidates. The one used on the SH/Rafale for example might prove efficient with the finely tuned shapes of the Goblin.
 

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It also likely helps that there is a sizable fleet of mothballed aircraft to cannibalize for parts to keep the few current F-117s flying.
This. I think the sheer number of aircraft in mothballs mean that it's a cheap off the shelf solution as a low RCS target, and a manned pilot offers more on the fly flexibility than a drone.
 

Flyaway

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Could the F-117 be upgraded with something like the F-35’s radar absorbing fibermat coating?

It's possible, but I don't think so. One of the advantages of flying the old 117 is that no new sensitive technology is exposed.
Then in many theaters 1980s tech is still relevant (Iran for example).
Other less sensitive coatings are available and would be IMOHO prime candidates. The one used on the SH/Rafale for example might prove efficient with the finely tuned shapes of the Goblin.
I didn’t know the Rafale used radar absorbing coatings wholesale, I thought it was just in certain areas?
 

Archibald

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As I said some posts upthread - stealth aircraft are such precious and expensive assets, even after retirement they will milk out the F-117 fleet until the very last one falls into pieces...
 

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I believe there is group of early build F-35s that are going to relegated to aggressor training soon. Early lots of F-35 apparently had structural flaws that apparently aren't cost effective to fix, so they are going to be used for training purposes. I think the Block I super bugs are getting the same treatment.
 

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Last Tuesday sighting:
this past Tuesday aviation enthusiast and webmaster of the Area 51 themed site dreamlandresort.com Joerg Arnu was buzzed by two Nighthawks flying at speed heading toward the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), home to the best known secret air base known as Area 51 and the just as secretive Tonopah Test Range (TTR).

 

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F117s were used in combat in Syria just a couple of years ago. I imagine there is a silver bullet force as we saw in syria. It was too good and had too much life left. Especially when you consider that using the f117 instead of raptors and 35s saves their capabilities from being known. I have heard from retired persons the f117 was considered for killing ubl to avoid spirits and raptors and tipping our hand. If you turn a nighthawk into an unmanned drone for a 1 way mission you double its range...
 

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Interesting but, why throw away a resource like that? If it's worthy of use (Which I believe it is) use it properly and try to maintain level of availability. It may not be great against peer nations but other lower level nations, why not? The fact that aggressor training is also an effective use of assets is a plus.
 

Josh_TN

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F117s were used in combat in Syria just a couple of years ago. I imagine there is a silver bullet force as we saw in syria. It was too good and had too much life left. Especially when you consider that using the f117 instead of raptors and 35s saves their capabilities from being known. I have heard from retired persons the f117 was considered for killing ubl to avoid spirits and raptors and tipping our hand. If you turn a nighthawk into an unmanned drone for a 1 way mission you double its range...
Do you have a source for the Syrian usage? First I'd heard of it.
 

Nigelhg

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Everyone knows I am just an enthusiast here. That said, why are we keeping the nighthawks flying when there are better options for "stealth" platforms to train against? What happened to the Boeing and NG drones, for example? If they are just keeping - I am guessing - 3 or 4 nighthawks flying, isn't it more costly than the drones we had built and flown?
Apparently the IR performance is still state of the art- I'm guessing that may be part of it.
 

Josh_TN

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Probably less state of the art and more uncompromising low IR engine arrangement. Dropping the reheat allows for more IR friendly placement.
 

coanda

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F117s were used in combat in Syria just a couple of years ago. I imagine there is a silver bullet force as we saw in syria. It was too good and had too much life left. Especially when you consider that using the f117 instead of raptors and 35s saves their capabilities from being known. I have heard from retired persons the f117 was considered for killing ubl to avoid spirits and raptors and tipping our hand. If you turn a nighthawk into an unmanned drone for a 1 way mission you double its range...
Do you have a source for the Syrian usage? First I'd heard of it.
They didn't get used in Syria. There is no evidence. If Tyler R is to be believed then it was Avenger that was used.
 

kitnut617

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F117s were used in combat in Syria just a couple of years ago. I imagine there is a silver bullet force as we saw in syria. It was too good and had too much life left. Especially when you consider that using the f117 instead of raptors and 35s saves their capabilities from being known. I have heard from retired persons the f117 was considered for killing ubl to avoid spirits and raptors and tipping our hand. If you turn a nighthawk into an unmanned drone for a 1 way mission you double its range...
Do you have a source for the Syrian usage? First I'd heard of it.
They didn't get used in Syria. There is no evidence. If Tyler R is to be believed then it was Avenger that was used.
They'd be hard to miss-identify too, they're completely different aircraft shapes --
 

rooster

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There were a few stories about the syria strikes but I was even remembering The War Zone story.
 

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