The 8th & 9th Fighter Squadrons are the only two combat-ready F-117A Nighthawk squadrons in the world. They deploy worldwide as tasked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, using special low-observable technologies to deliver precision-guided weapons against high-value, heavily defended targets. The 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons provide the National Command Authority with a fully autonomous special combat capability for low- profile military operations.
The 9th Fighter Squadron was activated as the 9th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 15 January 1941 at Selfridge Field, Michigan. Redesignated as the 9th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942, the unit saw combat throughout the Southwest Pacific campaign during World War II, earning four Distinguished Unit Citations and two Presidential Unit Citations during the war. The squadron had the distinction of being the first Air Force unit to land and operate from the Philippine Islands following the Japanese occupation of that country, and was selected as the Honor Guard at the start of the occupation of Japan. Fourteen aces served with the 9th during WWII, including Major Richard Bong, the top American ace of the war.
The 9th Fighter Squadron continued to operate from bases in Japan and Korea through the Korean War, flying the P-51 Mustang, F-80 Shooting Star, and F-84 Thunderjet. The unit moved to the European theater in 1957, first at Etain/Rouvres, France, and then at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, where the squadron participated in exercises and competitions in both Europe and the United States. Following conversion to the F-4, the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron was reassigned to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, in July 1968.
The squadron was part of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing deployment to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, from May through September 1972 to support combat operations over Vietnam. The unit earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross during this period. The squadron returned to its WWII mission of air superiority in 1978 with the conversion to the F-15 Eagle.
The unit became operational in the F-117A Stealth Fighter in 1993. As one of only two operational Stealth Fighter squadrons, the 9th Fighter Squadron continues to support exercises around the world, as well as providing airshow and public display support world-wide. The unit most recently deployed to Italy in support of Operation DELIBERATE FORCE over the former Yugoslavia.
The mission of the 9th FS is to conduct worldwide deployment and employment as tasked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff utilizing special low-observable technologies and precision guided weapons delivery against high value, heavily defended targets.
F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Attack Aircraft
The F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter attack aircraft was developed by Lockheed Martin after work on stealth technology, and the predecessor test demonstrator aircraft, Have Blue, was carried out in secret from 1975.
Development of the F-117A began in 1978 and it was first flown in 1981, but it was not until 1988 that its existence was publicly announced. The Nighthawk is the world's first operational stealth aircraft. The first aircraft was delivered in 1982 and the last of the 59 Nighthawks procured by the US Air Force was received in 1990.
The F-117A aircraft is also known as the Frisbee and the Wobblin' Goblin. The mission of the aircraft is to penetrate dense threat environments and attack high-value targets with high accuracy. Nighthawk has been in operational service in Panama, during Operation Desert Storm, in Kosovo, in Afghanistan and during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The F-117 is being replaced in the USAF by the F-22 Raptor. The first 10 of the 55 F-117 aircraft in service were retired in December 2006. The remainder is scheduled to be retired by 2008.
In January 2004, an F-117 successfully released a JDAM (JDAM) 2,000lb bomb for the first time. The integration of JDAM and other precision-guided weapons on the F-117 is coupled with the block II software upgrade and is planned to achieve Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in mid-2006.
The Nighthawk is only used for night-time missions.
The surfaces and edge profiles are optimised to reflect hostile radar into narrow beam signals, directed away from the enemy radar detector. All the doors and opening panels on the aircraft have saw-toothed forward and trailing edges to reflect radar.
The aircraft is mainly constructed of aluminum, with titanium for areas of the engine and exhaust systems. The outer surface of the aircraft is coated with a Radar-Absorbent Material (RAM). The radar cross-section of the F-117 has been estimated at between 10cm² and 100cm².
The F-117A has four elevons on the inboard and outboard trailing edge of the wing. The V-shaped tail, which controls the yaw of the aircraft, acts as a flying tail, which means that the whole surface acts as a control surface. The elevons do not act as flaps to reduce the rate of descent for touchdown, so the landing speed of the F-117A is high, at about 180mph to 190mph, and a drag parachute is used.
The cockpit has a Kaiser Electronics Head-Up Display (HUD) and the flight deck is equipped with a large video monitor, which displays the infrared imagery from the aircraft's onboard sensors. The cockpit has a full-colour moving map developed by the Harris Corporation. The fly-by-wire system is supplied by BAE Systems Aircraft Controls.
The aircraft can carry a range of tactical fighter ordnance in the weapons bay, including BLU-109B low-level laser-guided bomb, GBU-10 and GBU-27 laser-guided bomb units, Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick and Raytheon AGM-88 HARM air-to-surface missiles.
For stealth, the F-117A does not rely on radar for navigation or targeting. For navigation and weapon aiming, the aircraft is equipped with a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) and a Downward-Looking Infrared (DLIR) with laser designator, supplied by Raytheon. The aircraft uses a Honeywell inertial navigation system.
The aircraft has multi-channel pilot static tubes installed in the nose. Multiple ports along the length of the tubes provide differential pressure readings. The flight control computers compare these in order to provide the aircraft's flight data.
Before flight, mission data is downloaded on to the IBM AP-102 mission control computer, which integrates it with the navigation and flight controls to provide a fully automated flight management system.
After take-off, the pilot can hand over flight control to the mission program until within visual range of the mission's first target. The pilot then resumes control of the aircraft for weapon delivery.
The aircraft is equipped with an Infrared Acquisition and Designation System (IRADS), which is integrated with the weapon delivery system. The pilot is presented with a view of the target on the head-up display, first from the FLIR and then from the DLIR.
The weapon delivery and impact is recorded on the aircraft's internally mounted video system, which provides real-time damage assessment.
The F-117A is powered by two low-bypass F404-GE-F1D2 turbofan engines from General Electric. The rectangular air intakes on both sides of the fuselage are covered by gratings, which are coated with radar-absorbent material.
The wide and flat structure of the engine exhaust area reduces the infrared and radar detectability of the aft section of the engine. The two large tail fins slant slightly outwards to provide an obstruction to the infrared and radar returns from the engine exhaust area.
Special coatings on the cockpit canopy glass
make the panels appear as metallic surfaces to radar.
An F-117A Nighthawk refuels in flight.
F-117s may carry two differerent types of ordnance at the same time.
GBU-10 with laser-guided head is in the background, with GBU-27 in the foreground.
Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co.
Two General Electric F404 engines
65 feet, 11 inches (20.3 meters)
12 feet, 5 inches (3.8 meters)
52,500 pounds (23,625 kilograms)
43 feet, 4 inches (13.3 meters)
Unlimited with air refueling
Internal weapons carriage
1982 / RETIRED 2008
Active force . 0 . ANG. 0 . Reserve. 0 . .
F-117 Stealth Fighter
F-117 Stealth Fighter Refueling
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