F-117A "Nighthawk"
Sponsored by C.L. Werner


Armament: Up to 5,000 lbs. of assorted internal stores
Engines: Two General Electric F404-F1D2 engines of 10,600 lbs. thrust each
Crew: One
Maximum cruise speed: 684 mph (.84 mach)
Range: 1,070 mi (Unlimited with aerial refueling)
Ceiling: 45,000 ft.
Span: 43 ft. 4 in.
Length: 65 ft. 11 in.
Height: 12 ft. 5 in.
Weight: 52,500 lbs. maximum

Significance of Type

The Lockheed F-117A was developed in response to an Air Force request for an aircraft capable of attacking high value targets without being detected by enemy radar. By the 1970s, new materials and techniques allowed engineers to design an aircraft with radar-evading or "stealth" qualities. The result was the F-117A, the world's first operational stealth aircraft.

The first F-117A flew on June 18, 1981, and the first F-117A unit, the 4450th Tactical Group (renamed the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing in October 1989), achieved initial operating capability in October 1983. The F-117A first saw combat during Operation Just Cause on Dec. 19, 1989, when two F-117As from the 37th TFW attacked military targets in Panama.

The F-117A again went into action during Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991 when the 415th and the 416th squadrons of the 37th TFW moved to a base in Saudi Arabia. During Operation Desert Storm, the F-117As flew 1,271 sorties, achieving an 80 percent mission success rate, and suffered no losses or battle damage. A total of 64 F-117As were built (5 were YF-117A models) between 1981 and 1990. In 1989 the F-117A was awarded the Collier Trophy, one of the most prized aeronautical awards in the world.

The aircraft on display (85-0831) made its first flight on October 20, 1987 and flew its entire career with the Combined Test Force at Plant 42, Palmdale, CA. Our aircraft was one of four that remained in Palmdale, as part of the 410th Flight Test Squadron after the program retirement date of April 22, 2008. Flown with the Skunk Works logo painted on the underside in 1991 for Ben Rich’s, Lockheed Skunk Works Director, retirement, and our aircraft later made the last flight of the program on August 11, 2008. Our aircraft had the highest test flight hours (2,720.7) of the program.