Translated by BabelFish
Since the Forties, the technology of the furtivity had undergone only one moderated development, but the wars of Viêt-nam and Yom Kippur encouraged the DARPA (arranges research projects in advanced defense) to claim the development of a furtive plane equipped with materials absorbing the waves radar, of an internal structure reflecting the waves radars (returning triangles which deviate energy radar far from the transmitter) and of an also reflective configuration to reduce the signature radar considerably so that unfavourable defenses do not have sufficient time to react to the threat, or "do not see it at all". The whole of the facets reflects energy radar in all the directions, thus making it possible the plane to appear virtually invisible even with platforms AWACS; this concept extends even to the wing, whose airfoil is composed of two flat panels below and of three with the top of the wing. The straight lines are banished, and this is also valid for the panels of access and the doors, including one certain number, for the same reason, comprises teeth while the canopy of the cockpit is covered with a gold film. The radio antennas are retractable and, in times of peace, the plane carries external reflectors radar just as of the transponders. In April 1976, the unit "Skunk Works" of Lockheed, famous to have manufactured U-2 and SR 71, accepted ordering of a contract of development for two planes technological demonstrators on reduced scale.
Under the name of code Cuts Blue, the first of these planes flew for the first time in 1977 starting from the secret base of test of Groom Dry Lake, Nevada, with Bill Park with the orders. In spite of the loss of the two planes Cuts Blue, the experience gained at the time of these tests was sufficient to make it possible Lockheed to obtain a contract for the development of an operational tactical plane on scale one, concluded on November 16, 1978 under the name of code Senior Trend. The lessons drawn from the prototypes Have Blue conduirent with major modifications, in particular on the level of the configuration of the drifts which were tilted towards outside and either towards the interior. The first of five prototypes FSD stole on June 18, 1981 with Hal Farley to the orders. With the origin, the color of these planes was not the combination of black which is from now on synonymous with F-117, some gray and others being taken on with a camouflage with two tone distinct. The plane also had an empennage of smaller size than that of the production aircraft.
to reduce the costs and to maintain the secrecy, one tested as much as possible to use components and equipment resulting from other planes in service, which made it possible to camouflage many expenditure of F-117 among the lists "of parts spare" from other models. Thus, the plane has a main landing gear A-10A, principal wheels of F-15 E, an ejector seat ACES standard and screens of cockpit of Hornet F/A-18. The configuration out of arrow of the plane imposed the use of an electric control device of flight; accordingly, Lockheed chooses quadruple system GEC Astronics of actuating F-16 of the double elevons and the entirely mobile rudders.
The base of Tonopah
While the production continued on a low level, the American Air Force started to install, not far from Groom Lake, base almost such a withdrawn, in Tonopah Test Arranges. The first unit was declared operational in October 1983 with five F-117 and 18 Corsair A-7D which were used to perfect the drive and to provide a "cover" of safety. All the flights were carried out of night, which required many installations on the level of the rate/rhythm of life of the crews. This factor played a determinant in the loss of two F-117 during the Eighties. It is only as from November 1988 that F117 was officially recognized by the Pentagon, which thus made it possible the "Black Jet" to carry out missions of flight of day.
As of October 1979, the US Air Force started to select the pilots for missions on F117, carrying out a meticulous selection based on competences in flight, the personality and the formation. The 4450ème Tactical Groupe (TG) was created in 1980 on the basis of air Nellis as an operational unit, while the first group of pilots was affected in the middle of the year 1982, at the time when the first production aircraft was delivered. The unit was divided into 4 groups, known under the names of unit P (on A-7D as planes of cover and following planes), unit I (' Nightstalkers'), unit Q (' Goatsuckers') and unit Z (' Grim Reapers'). Later, these units constituted squadrons, unit I becoming 4450ème TS (Tactical Squadron), the unit P 4451ème TS, the unit Q 4452ème TS and unit Z the 4453ème YOUR (Squadron of Evaluation and Test).
In October 1989, 4450ème TG took the name of 37ème Tactical Escadre of Hunting (TFW), taking again the denomination of the squadron of Phantoms' Wild Weasel' based with George, whose escadrilles amalgamated with 35ème TFW. The units of F-117 were divided into three squadrons, 415ème TFS (Tactical Squadron of Hunting) ' Nightstalkers', 416ème TFS ' Ghostriders' and the 417ème Escadron of Drive to the Tactical Combat (TFTS)"Gangsters". In October 1991, the 37ème became a squadron of hunting, at the same time as the three subordinate units became squadrons of hunting. The unit preserved the badge of bird of prey of the 4450ème Tactical Groupe, but by superimposing it on the famous cross of 37ème TFW.
on December 19 1989,1e F-117 entered finally in action at the time of an attack on two ships of the barracks of Rio Hato, during the invasion of Panama. This small baptism of fire was eclipsed spoke contribution about F-117 to the Tempête operation of the desert, during which 42 planes flew away of Khamis Mushait in Saudi Arabia for missions of night against Iraq and the occupied one. Using its furtivity fully, F-117 crosses of night the defense forces surrounding Baghdad and fired and guided its weapons with the highhest degree of accuracy against the majority of the strategic targets of the city, while also releasing the first bomb of the war against a center of air defense. When, towards the end of the war, such targets were done increasingly rare, the "Black Jets" aimed at the bridges and the air-raid shelters. During a this war, which was a demonstration of the technical capabilities of the West, F-117 was the star uncontested. Under the command of the Lieutenant Colonel Ralph W Getchell, 415ème TFS was the first to be spread in the area of the Gulf, newcomer with Khamis Mushait (more known under the name of ' Tonopah East') on August 19, 1990. 416ème TFS was sent in Saudi Arabia in December, and 37ème TFW, ordered by colonel Al Whitley, was reinforced by a handle of planes and pilots of 417ème TFTS. On the whole, 1 271 missions of combat were carried out during the Tempête operation of the desert. On their return of the battle field, Night Hawks could be largely observed at the time of many air meetings, and in 1992, they finished their exit of ' the ombre' while being installed on the air base of Holloman, in New Mexico. In January 1992, 37ème FW replaced 49ème FW.
The US Air Force uses F-117 for attacks against targets considered as being "highly strategic". These are targets of which the destruction would have an effect much more important on the defensive and offensive capacities of the enemy that their damage. Among such targets, one finds the centers of communication and command, the centers of air defense per sector, the key bridges, the airfields and all that is assimilated to it.
After the war of the Gulf, Lockheed began a program OCIP of development of the offensive capacities for the 57 F-117 remainders (on the 59 production aircraft and the five preproductions delivered) with for goal to increase their effectiveness with the combat by reducing the workload in the cockpit. Two multifunction screens color are added, just as a mobile card reader. A display system to liquid crystals allows the input. Automatic throttle control levers are incorporated, connected to the system of navigation, which provides a function time-over-target (hour on the objective) for a precise schedule of the attacks. A device of car-recovery is also assembled to mitigate any space confusion by bad weather. Since 1984, the plane was sophisticated with the use of computers IBM AP-102 to replace Delco M362F. A third phase of the program of development will see the addition of a new sensor of acquisition and infra-red designation to replace systems FLIR and DLIR (tested in flight in 1992), and will also provide a power station of inertial navigation gyrolaser Honeywell and a GPS Collins (system of localization per satellite).
The RAF and Luftwaffe expressed their interest, and, since 1987, of the pilots of the RAF taking part in an exchange flew on the plane, in exchange of an occasional permission to perhaps use the British air bases. Rumours also circulated concerning a naval derivative which would have been proposed in US Navy to be used as provisional plane of attack following the cancellation of program AX in September 1993. Called "Seahawk", it would be with few things close a derivative of the basic F-117A with a landing gear of F-14 Grumman and a device of landing on aircraft carrier, just as a stick of landing retracted under the fuselage, behind the doors of closing. The plane is sufficiently small to use an elevator of aircraft carrier without having to fold up its wings. The financing of program F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet makes improbable the launching of the program "Seahawk".
There is not any two-seater version of drive of F-117, in spite of rumours according to which crashé F-117 FSD would have been converted into two-seater prototype. In replacement, the pilots use sophisticated simulators and some T-38 to perfect their drive.
Options of armament
Although F-117 is able to carry a multitude of different weapons, its standard armament is the bomb with laser guidance of 1000 kg, that it is version GBU-10 Paveway II or version GBU-27 Paveway Ill. Each version comprises options of warhead, Mk 84 standard or the BLU-109 for the penetration with the thicker and right walls. The GBIJ-27 was especially developed for F-117 because, although it has the system of guidance Paveway Ill, it has the ailerons of Paveway II which can hold in the internal compartments of armament of Night Hawk. The US Air Force remains evasive with regard to the options of armament of F-117, answering all the questions by the general expression "it is able to carry all that we have in stock", and refusing to hold account of the use of the air-to-air missiles (AAM) or even of containers guns. Some insinuate that it regularly carries air-to-ground missile AGM-65 Maverick, the air-to-ground missile antirayonnements at high speed AGM-88 HARM and air-to-air missile AIM-9 Sidewinder, and, according to rumours', there would be proposals for an adaptation of the plane so that it carries in-house a nacelle TARPS (tactical air recognition) of F-14.