Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk

1st Flight 1981

The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a semi-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.

It was the first operational aircraft to be designed around stealth technology.

Variants

F-117N “Seahawk”

The United States Navy tested the F-117 in 1984 but determined it was not suitable for carrier use.

In the early 1990s, Lockheed proposed an upgraded, carrier-capable variant of the F-117 dubbed the “Seahawk” to the Navy as an alternative to the cancelled A/F-X program.

The unsolicited proposal was received poorly by the Department of Defence, which had little interest in the single mission capabilities of such an aircraft, particularly as it would take money away from the Joint Advanced Strike Technology program, which evolved into the Joint Strike Fighter.

The new aircraft would have differed from the land-based F-117 in several ways, including the addition “of elevators, a bubble canopy, a less sharply swept wing and reconfigured tail”.

The “N” variant would also be re-engined to use General Electric F414 turbofans instead of the older General Electric F404s.

The aircraft would be optionally fitted with hard points, allowing for an additional 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) of payload, and a new ground-attack radar with air-to-air capability. In that role, the F-117N could carry AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles.

F-117B

After being rebuffed by the Navy, Lockheed submitted an updated proposal that included afterburning capability and a larger emphasis on the F-117N as a multi-mission aircraft, rather than just an attack aircraft.

To boost interest, Lockheed also proposed an F-117B land-based variant that shared most of the F-117N capabilities. This variant was proposed to the USAF and RAF.

Two RAF pilots formally evaluated the aircraft in 1986 as a reward for British help with the American bombing of Libya that year, RAF exchange officers began flying the F-117 in 1987, and the British declined an offer during the Reagan administration to purchase the aircraft.

This renewed F-117N proposal was also known as the A/F-117X.

Neither the F-117N nor the F-117B were ordered.

Specifications

Crew: 1

Length: 65 ft 11 in (20.09 m)

Wingspan: 43 ft 4 in (13.21 m)

Height: 12 ft 5 in (3.78 m)

Wing area: 780 sq ft (72 m2)

Airfoil: Lozenge section, 3 flats Upper, 2 flats Lower

Empty weight: 29,500 lb (13,381 kg)

Max takeoff weight: 52,500 lb (23,814 kg)

Powerplant: 2 × General Electric F404-F1D2 turbofan engines, 10,600 lbf (47 kN) thrust each

Performance

Maximum speed: 594 kn (684 mph, 1,100 km/h)

Maximum speed: Mach 0.92

Range: 930 nmi (1,070 mi, 1,720 km) ;

Service ceiling: 45,000 ft (14,000 m)

Wing loading: 67.3 lb/sq ft (329 kg/m2) calculated from Thrust/weight: 0.40

Armament

2 × internal weapons bays with one hard point each (total of two weapons) equipped to carry:

Bombs:

GBU-10 Paveway II laser-guided bomb with 2,000 lb Mk84 blast/fragmentation or BLU-109 or BLU-116 Penetrator warhead

GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb with 500 lb Mk82 blast/fragmentation warhead

GBU-27 Paveway III laser-guided bomb with 2,000 lb Mk84 blast-fragmentation or BLU-109 or BLU-116 Penetrator warhead

GBU-31 JDAM INS/GPS guided munitions with 2,000 lb Mk84 blast-frag or BLU-109 Penetrator warhead

B61 nuclear bomb.

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