CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
- Jun 25, 2009
- Reaction score
I do not know if I told the story here before, but back in the days when I was a language instructor in the French Armée de l'Air (as part of my national service) our students ranked from young aspiring student warrant officer up to colonels. At night, after supper at the mess, we would often go for a drink with some of our students and after a couple of glasses, tongues would loosen and we would hear the occasional anecdote from a former presidential pilot or a Normandie-Niemen squadron leader. That was in 1988-89, about the time when the F-117 was first revealed.JimK said:It repeats in text and drawing the story that the airplane should fit inside a C-5.
One of the officers told us that during a visit on a Spanish Air Force base during the Libyan crisis, he had witnessed some cloaked aircraft being unloaded from a C-5 Galaxy (that would have been 1986). The conclusion that he was able to draw from the episode, his own questions to his Spanish colleagues and how it fitted in the chronology of events was that initially the US had deployed a stealth fighter in the Mediterranean for use against Khadafi's MiGs (so as to end the matter quickly and safely by benefitting from the effect of surprise) but that it was later decided to go for F-14s instead. When the F-117 was revealed in 1989, he believed that this was proof that his story was correct... Now of course we all know that the F-117 is NOT a fighter and would be terrible in any air combat situation, and besides an F-117 wouldn't easily fit in a Galaxy... So what secret aircraft, capable of swift air-to-air combat and fitting within a C-5, did he see exactly?
On a side note (not related to the stealth fighter) another officer claimed that during these operations, American aircraft sent from England, which theoretically had to go around the Iberic Peninsula (i.e. Spain and Portugal, since non-NATO aligned France would not allow for them to fly over French territory) had in fact been allowed unofficially by the French government to fly over the Western Pyrenees at night. Yet another officer claimed that some French bases in the Southern Alps area had routinely let American aircraft transit during these events. It's always difficult to prove such things of course, but when enough separate testimonies add up, they can end up giving a pretty coherent picture.