Iconic aircraft is headed to the Reagan Presidential Library

A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
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An F-117 Nighthawk is headed to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library December 2019 and will call the Simi Valley, California, hillside its permanent home.

The Reagan Foundation and manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced Nov. 4, 2019, that the single-seat, twin-engine stealth aircraft will be on display just outside the library, next to an F-14 Tomcat.

The restored jet, tail number 803, will be unveiled during the annual Reagan National Defense Forum on Dec. 7, 2019.

"The Reagan Library will now be one of two places in the nation where the general public can visit an F-117 Stealth Fighter on permanent display," said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

"We are deeply grateful to Lockheed Martin for their outstanding assistance in restoring the aircraft for such a meaningful display and to the U.S. Air Force for making it possible for the Reagan Library to exhibit the plane for millions of visitors to enjoy for years to come," he said in a news release.

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Nicknamed the "Unexpected Guest," the jet going to the library flew more combat sorties — 78 — than all other F-117s combined, according to the release. It entered service in 1984.

Another F-117 is on public display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

According to officials, Lockheed produced 59 operational F-117s and five developmental prototypes, beginning in 1981. The U.S. didn't publicly acknowledge the stealth attack plane — capable of going after high-value targets without being detected by enemy radar — until 1988, even though a few crashed during trials.
"The F-117 was developed in response to an urgent national need," said Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the division that designs and engineers advanced development projects, which are typically highly classified.

"It has paved the way for today's stealth technology and reminds us to continue redefining what's possible," Babione said in the release. "It's been a privilege for our team to collaborate with the [Air Force] and the Reagan Foundation on this effort, and we are excited to see it on proud display at its new home."
The F-117 Nighthawk has been spotted over the Nevada desert occasionally in recent years, despite plans to divest them over time.

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Technically categorized as "flyable storage," the remaining F-117s in the Air Force inventory are tucked away at test and training ranges in Tonopah, Nevada.

But the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 called for the removal of up to four F-117s every year to fully put them to bed — a process known as demilitarizing aircraft.

Congress gave authority in 2007 and 2008 to retire a total of 52 F-117s from the inventory but wanted them maintained so they could be recalled to service if they were needed for a high-end war, an official previously told Military.com.

The aircraft first saw combat during Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama, on Dec. 19, 1989, according to the Air Force.

"I was privileged to fly the airplane when the program was classified," said retired Lt. Col. Scott Stimpert, the pilot for tail number 803. "It was an exciting time, and a vitally important capability, but not something you could share with friends or family. I'm glad the airplane can come out of the dark to take its rightful place in the light, somewhere it can be seen and appreciated by the people it helped to protect."
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
82-803 was a Lot 4 production aircraft, and was the first F-117 combat mission jet. I have many missions and many hours in that very jet in my logbook, as it was one of my squadron’s birds.

Aircraft #19 "Unexpected Guest", first flight 8 May 1984, retired 23 March 2007.
 
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A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
It's been said that more NFL players have suited up on any given Sunday than the total number of pilots ever privileged to fly the Nighthawk. During the Gulf War, it flew 1,300 sorties and scored direct hits on 1,600 high value targets without losing a single plane. I beleive that I read that only one plane was ever brought down. Mike, are most of the combat missions still classified? It would be very interesting to learn/read about some of your time in that amazing aircraft.
 
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FlyingAccountant

Well-Known Member
Mike wins the internet for the day.

I think this particular aircraft was the one seen headed to Palmdale on the back of a semi truck a few months back. Hopefully the majority of these guys make it into museums some day when the USAF gets done with whatever it is they're doing with them right now.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
It's been said that more NFL players have suited up on any given Sunday than the total number of pilots ever privileged to fly the Nighthawk. During the Gulf War, it flew 1,300 sorties and scored direct hits on 1,600 high value targets without losing a single plane. I beleive that I read that only one plane was ever brought down. Mike, are most of the combat missions still classified? It would be very interesting to learn/read about some of your time in that amazing aircraft.
Many of the specific combat mission details would still be class due to a number of factors such as how targets were detected and struck, how threats were mitigated or defeated, etc.
 

Pilot Fighter

Well-Known Member
Trivial thoughts, I wonder what their plan is to paint this bird if it's I going to be displayed outside. I think they media-blasted the radar-absorbing coating off the one that went to the USAF museum and painted it.
 
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MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Trivial thoughts, I wonder what their plan is to paint this bird if it's I going to be displayed outside. I think they media-blasted the radar-absorbing coating off the one that went to the USAF museum and painted it.
All the display birds are painted a general flat black “simulating” the RAM coating. Underneath the RAM, the jet is just an oddly shaped aluminum plane, with standard green primer parts.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Good, informative thread from 3 years ago on the Nighthawk.

 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
This is just too awesome not to re-post it here. What a truly stunning career.

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I’ll have to dig up and see if this was taken in Unexpected Guest. Either that or Fatal Attraction, Midnight Rider, or Final Verdict; being the ones that always seemed to have the most amount of “weathering” of the RAM coating during peacetime ops.

it’s been 14 years, nearly.
 

Murdoughnut

Well sized member
inside their old hangars where they began operational life at. Dismantled with about 3-4 planes per hangar sadly.
Ahh, I didn't even see that there was a base there until just now. Man, that has to be a crappy deployment.
 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
Ahh, I didn't even see that there was a base there until just now. Man, that has to be a crappy deployment.
Not a deployment.....

The Air Force manages to have some of the biggest variance between places to be permanently stationed that kick ass (McDill for example) and places so close to the end of the world you can look over the edge of it (Minot, Cannon, etc).

The Army and Marines just usually make them all suck with a few weird bright spots like Carson or Whidbey Island.
 

Springer

Well-Known Member
Not a deployment.....

The Air Force manages to have some of the biggest variance between places to be permanently stationed that kick ass (McDill for example) and places so close to the end of the world you can look over the edge of it (Minot, Cannon, etc).

The Army and Marines just usually make them all suck with a few weird bright spots like Carson or Whidbey Island.
I was in Tonopah on a Green Flag deployment in the early 80's as a ground FAC. Nothing takes your breath away more than being buzzed by a F-4 doing Mach 1.
 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
that’s what I always heard. Was it not true?
Our WX guys don’t get crap extra. They are housed in the same barracks but slightly better rules as far as being able to get out of them and live on the economy.

Really the only advantage of being an Airman on an Army base or with an Army unit is you get some level of deflection from the absurd because you have a small tight chain of command. So you’ve got a boss they need to talk to before you find yourself cutting the grass at 1600 on a Friday with the bubbas from the S4 shop or something stupid.

Some of those dudes will go back to the big Air Force with a true appreciation of how much worse things can really be.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

NovemberEcho

Dergs favorite member
Our WX guys don’t get crap extra. They are housed in the same barracks but slightly better rules as far as being able to get out of them and live on the economy.

Really the only advantage of being an Airman on an Army base or with an Army unit is you get some level of deflection from the absurd because you have a small tight chain of command. So you’ve got a boss they need to talk to before you find yourself cutting the grass at 1600 on a Friday with the bubbas from the S4 shop or something stupid.

Some of those dudes will go back to the big Air Force with a true appreciation of how much worse things can really be.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
apparently it’s such a strongly held belief Stars and Stripes did an article on it to refute it lol

 
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