Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Origin: United States of America
Parent System: F-117A Nighthawk
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): October 1983
Maiden Flight: 1981
Total Production: 64
Total Cost: USD$2.7 billion
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Description: The F-117A Nighthawk is a twin-engine, subsonic, single-seat, low-observable (stealth) attack fighter aircraft. It was designed and produced in secrecy for the United States Air Force. It performs attack missions against targets protected by sophisticated air defenses. The F-117A uses laser guided bombs to attack heavily defended targets using an internally mounted FLIR, as it did during the Gulf War in 1991. The availability of more sophisticated, fire and forget weapons such as the JDAM bombs will benefit the F-117 fighter aircraft. Due to stealth airframe design, the two weapons transported by the F-117 are stored in an internal bay in the aircraft belly. This aircraft has no external hard points.
The F-117A was employed for the first time against Panama during operation Just Cause and against Iraq during the Gulf War. It was during the Gulf War that the F-117A demonstrated its real value bombing Baghdad. At the end of the 1990s it was said that the F-117A was going to remain in service until 2015 when it would be replaced, along with the F-15E, by an attack variant of the F-22 Raptor called the FB-22 or F-22X. After 2000 the US Air Force plans called for the F-117 fleet retirement by 2011. Following QDR 2006 the F-117 retirement date was accelerated to fiscal year 2008.
The US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.4 billion contract on 28 September 2006 to provide sustainment support for the F-117 aircraft under Total System Support Partnership (TSSP) II effort. The contract also included aircraft modifications and other services. The contract was set to expire in September 2012. The aircraft was decommissioned in 2008 but nevertheless has been employed in combat missions thereafter.
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