F-117 Nighthawk Comes Out to Play, Looks as Weird as Ever

F-117 Nighthawk 7 photos
Photo: U.S. Air National Guard/Capt. Jason Sanchez
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Today’s world has invisible things flying in its skies. Ok, not invisible per se, as in you could still spot them with your eyes, but if you’re using some kind of radar detection system, chances are you’ll miss that bomber aircraft flying overhead. And it all started with the F-117 Nighthawk.
The Lockheed machine is considered to have been the world’s first operational stealth aircraft. Believe it or not, it’s been close to four decades since its introduction, and during that time it flew its share of combat missions, sadly becoming famous for one of them being shot down over Yugoslavia back in 1999. And that despite the fact it was the only one of 59 made for active duty to suffer this fate.

Officially, the plane is retired from active duty, having been out of service for combat operations since 2008. But the U.S. Air Force (USAF) still uses it, given how as of this year it’s being flown for training purposes.

We get a glimpse of how the plane looks now, when we have far fancier things flying about, in this photo released recently by the USAF. And the short answer is weird.

We’re looking at an F-117 coming in for a landing at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport in California after having conducted a training mission with the local Air National Guard in late September. As per the info provided, the stealth aircraft had been flying in mock combat scenarios against F-15s.

As for the plane’s capabilities, they’re well known. Powered by two General Electric turbofan engines, the F-117 can fly just under the speed of sound and at altitudes of up to 45,000 feet (14,000 meters).

Technically, the plane has unlimited range, as long as it has access to aerial refueling, and holds the record for the longest non-stop flight for a single-seat fighter, covering the distance between the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico and Kuwait (over 7,800 miles/12,500 km) in a single outing.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-117 Nighthawks.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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