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Goodbye, F-117A. We’ll Miss Not Seeing You

F-117a

By Evan Ackerman

Although you can’t buy one, the F-117A Night Hawk stealth fighter is perhaps one of the coolest gadgets to be produced in the last few decades. The entire fleet of 52 planes was informally retired on Tuesday in order to free up money for F-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightning IIs. They’re not going to be sold off to museums or scrapped or anything like that; they’ve proven their combat effectiveness and will be held in reserve in case they’re needed again at some point in the future, which is the same thing that happened to the battleship Missouri. Anyway, after the jump, I just thought I’d post some pics of this excitingly chunky, totally badass airplane.

If you have any cool pics of the F-117A, link to them in the comments, and I’ll add them.

F-117a

F-117a

F-117a

F-117A on Wikipedia (the Air Force official fact sheet appears to be full of errors, including the title. Go figure.)








  • http://www.majid.info/ Fazal Majid

    It’s doubtful they will ever fly again. They have a very limited payload, and need costly maintenance after each flight. The real reason why they are not going to be sold or given away is to preserve what is still leading-edge stealth technology.

  • http://www.evanackerman.com Evan Ackerman

    I could be wrong about this, but I think I remember hearing somewhere that the F-117A has a lower observable profile (radar, infrared, etc.) than either the F-22 or the B-2. I imagine that in certain very specific situations, they could still be the best planes for the job… But you’re right on both counts.

  • http://www.evanackerman.com Evan Ackerman

    So, according to Modern Marvels: Stealth Technology, the F-117A has a radar cross section “of an insect,” while the F-22′s is “smaller than a sparrow.” The B-2 has a radar cross section between 4 and 5 times larger than the F-117A.

  • VINCE

    not surprising. the f117 was designed for stealth above all else. the b2 is so big that the radar cross section is gonna be bigger anyway. the f22 was deisgned as a compromise between agility and stealth. No surprises here

  • nucking futs

    F117A is in my eyes the only plane that can live up to it's name, a Stealth bomber… B2s are just massive chunky bombers with only some stealth about them…

  • nucking futs

    F117A is in my eyes the only plane that can live up to it's name, a Stealth bomber… B2s are just massive chunky bombers with only some stealth about them…