As we have reported earlier, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum is getting an F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Jet.
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute are partnering on a
permanent static display for the F-117 Nighthawk that bears the nickname “Unexpected Guest.” The display will be
debuted at a ribbon-cutting ceremony during the Reagan National Defense Forum on Dec. 7.
The joint project referred to as “Operation Nighthawk Landing” was made possible by a permanent loan to the Reagan Foundation from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. To support the Air Force in their loan, the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is restoring the aircraft in preparation for its permanent exhibition at the Reagan Library.
The aircraft in question was #803 (82-0803), an F-117 that entered active service in 1984, flew 78 combat missions (the most of any Nighthawk) starting from Panama’s “Just Cause” operation and was retired in 2007 after logging 4,673 Flight Hours.
The aircraft is currently being prepared for display at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California and Lockheed Martin has just shared an interesting clip showing the preparation of the stealth jet for the exhibition.
More than a decade after the F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack jet’s official retirement, the Air Force still has 51 of the aircraft in its inventory and has not destroyed any of the aircraft since 2008, despite a Congressional mandate two years ago to dispose of four of them annually. The remaining Nighthawks are still at the secretive Tonopah Test Range Airport in Nevada.
Lockheed Martin only ever built 59 F-117s, along with five pre-production YF-117s, so 51 aircraft represent the bulk of the total production run.
Now according to the latest The war zone article, the U.S. Air Force has permanently loaned one of its remaining F-117A Nighthawk stealth combat aircraft to the Reagan Presidential Foundation, for eventual display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.
The stealth attack plane will join other aircraft at the museum, including a VC-137C Air Force One jet, F-14 Tomcat, and a VH-3 Marine One helicopter.
The F-117A Nighthawk destined for the Reagan Presidential Library is one of a dozen the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, or NMUSAF, has set aside to demilitarize and deeply modify so that it can loan them to museums, including those within the service itself, as part of the U.S. Air Force Heritage Program, Brian Bracken.
NMUSAF has already taken delivery of its own F-117, which joins a pre-production YF-117 in that museum’s collection. Another 51 Nighthawks are still at the secretive Tonopah Test Range Airport in Nevada and the service eventually plans to physically destroy the remaining 40 examples per Congressional mandate.
Development of the F-117 and its immediate predecessors certainly predates Reagan’s administration. President Reagan was a major proponent of the then top-secret F-117 program, at one point even personally inviting the United Kingdom to become a partner in it.
The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is an American single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft that was developed by Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works division and operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). The F-117 was based on the Have Blue technology demonstrator.
The Nighthawk was the first operational aircraft to be designed around stealth technology. Its maiden flight took place in 1981 at Groom Lake, Nevada, and the aircraft achieved initial operating capability status in 1983.
The Nighthawk was shrouded in secrecy until it was revealed to the public in 1988. Of the 64 F-117s built, 59 were production versions, with the other five being prototypes.