Although the iconic Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk was officially retired from active service in 2008 but the U.S. Air Force is still flying the stealth aircraft at Tonopah Test Range (TTR). According to a few reports, Decade After F-117 Stealth Jets Retirement 51 Nighthawk Still Remain In Inventory.
The following interesting video is actually a compilation of photographs taken at TTR as two F-117s were flying together last month.
The accompanying radio comms give us some details about the mission flown on Oct. 8, 2019, by the two stealth jets.
One, aircraft, using radio callsign NIGHT 17 seems to be involved in some kind of test, while NIGHT 21 appears to be the chase plane.
As you can hear from the radio comms, it was a somehow busy sortie: as the aircraft performed some pattern activity with touch and gos and ILS approaches, NIGHT 17 suffered pressurization issues and then reported a gear warning light when in the visual pattern after a T&G.
Regardless of whether the mission was an airtest or a simple flight to keep the pilots current with the type, it’s always a pleasure to see the secretive Wobblin‘ Goblin in the air!
The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a retired 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.
Then, in 2017, the U.S. Air Force announced the decision to retire the fleet permanently, once and for all. In fact, “in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, passed Dec. 23, 2017 the Air Force will remove four F-117s every year to fully divest them — a process known as demilitarizing aircraft,” wrote Oriana Pawlyk last year. According to Pawlyk, one F-117 was scheduled to be divested this year and approximately four every year thereafter.