The Lockheed F-117A Blackjet is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth ground attack aircraft operated solely by the United States Air Force (USAF). It was the first operational aircraft initially designed around stealth technology. Also known as the Nighthawk, it has a string of other nicknames. Before it was given an official name, engineers and test pilots referred to it as “Cockroach”, a name that is still sometimes used. As it prioritized stealth over aerodynamics, the first model was nicknamed “The Hopeless Diamond”. It was also called “Wobblin Goblin” due to its alleged instability at low speeds. Locals in the area around Holloman Air Force Base (AFB) referred to it as simply “Stealth”.
The unique design of the F-117A provides exceptional combat capabilities. The aircraft can employ a variety of weapons and is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems. A digital avionics suite increases mission effectiveness and reduces pilot workload. The first Blackjet was delivered in 1982, and the last delivery was in the summer of 1990.
The F-117A has been used several times in war. It first saw combat in the United States invasion of Panama, during which two Blackjets dropped two bombs on Rio Hato airfield. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, F-117As flew approximately 1,300 sorties and scored direct hits on 1,600 high value targets in Iraq. Although the F-117As flew through some of the most heavily defended areas in Desert Storm, not one aircraft was shot down or damaged.
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