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How viable and effective is the F-117 today?

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posted on Mar, 16 2006 @ 03:30 PM
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I was just reading some interesting articles I found on the web about the F-117. After the shootdown of a F-117 over Bosnia, where does it stand today?

It is still a viable platform? Would the US risk sending them out again? I know it happened a few years ago now, but have the US actually used them again in anger after that?

I find all these Black Aircraft projects very, very interesting and it was the black jet legacy that made me dig deeper into these very interesting and amazing flying machines.

I was in awe when I first saw the F-117 in pictures and was privilaged to see one in 1995 at Mildenhall Airshow.

I was shocked to hear that one was brought down by enemy fire.

Is this great bird at the end or was there something that they didn't tell us.

Any comments appreciated.

Regards,
SC

[edit on 16-3-2006 by Senior Citizen]




posted on Mar, 16 2006 @ 03:36 PM
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The f-117 in question was shot down by mass unguided enemy fire and was only hit becuase the pilot flew the same route for a week or so and a local comander realised this and gathered all his men and got lucky.



Is this great bird at the end


the f-117 isnt at the end of its life because of this incidence but it probably is near to its end due to the arrival of the f-22 which is equally as stealthy and can perform the same role as the f-117.

Justin



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 02:41 AM
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Only true insiders really know if the the F-117's stealth is being compromised by the latest generation air defence Radars. But.....

Its a 30 year old design that is very difficult to maintain. Im not saying that the B-2 is any better in the maintenace separtment mind you, but the F-117 costs alot to keep flying.

I was talking to a friend who was ex USAF who mentioned that due to its unusual shape there was more stress on the airframe than average for its flight hours. That also could be part of the reason.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 05:40 AM
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That is a good question! The biggest problem with the F-117 is outdated technology. Remember the planes were built in the earily 1980's. Although they have been updating them, the time to replace them is comeing. The earily stealth technology used on the Nighthawk is very high maintance and imposes operational limits on the airframe. While Upgrades will allow it to fly for a few more years, there is no question that the time to pass the torch is growing near.

Tim



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 06:03 AM
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This is not really serious, so don't lynch me for it. Just a thought I had.

The F-117A is more than it seems. I was thinking that it is actually able to go in to space.

So much info about it is still classified. Like the airframe materials, the stange shape (and we all know Stealth technology is mostly based on shape deflecting radar, blah blah blah) and, curiously, the flight ceiling (max altitude).

Now, humor me here, why is it that the ceiling is classified? I had a notion that the flat undersurface, retractable tail section, and no external anything, would make it an excellent space craft. The flat bottom, and the lack of external thingy's to burn off on re-entry. Not to mention the black color. Why? you don't need to be black to be stealth. A black plane in a blue sky sticks out like a sore thumb. Black is a terrible stealth color. And building a plane to ONLY fight at night in the 21st century? Come on. I think its black to prevent sun refelction while in orbit, so Joe Backyard Astronemer doesn't see it.

And the engine houseings? I believe the Air force spec was to house twin GE 404's, but I can't see how they would fit in there due to the extreme fuselage taper down to the diffusers and the postions of the internal weapons bays. I'm no aircraft engineer though, so I'm sure I may be corrected.

Like I said, just a funny thought. No hate mail please.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 07:53 AM
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Originally posted by Senior Citizen
I was just reading some interesting articles I found on the web about the F-117. After the shootdown of a F-117 over Bosnia, where does it stand today?


Is this great bird at the end or was there something that they didn't tell us.

Any comments appreciated.

Regards,
SC


Its combat usefulness would depend greatly on the opposition it would have to face.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 11:09 AM
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Originally posted by GeoPetroEngGuy
So much info about it is still classified. Like the airframe materials, the stange shape (and we all know Stealth technology is mostly based on shape deflecting radar, blah blah blah) and, curiously, the flight ceiling (max altitude).

Now, humor me here, why is it that the ceiling is classified? I had a notion that the flat undersurface, retractable tail section, and no external anything, would make it an excellent space craft. The flat bottom, and the lack of external thingy's to burn off on re-entry. Not to mention the black color. Why? you don't need to be black to be stealth. A black plane in a blue sky sticks out like a sore thumb. Black is a terrible stealth color. And building a plane to ONLY fight at night in the 21st century? Come on. I think its black to prevent sun reflection while in orbit, so Joe Backyard Astronemer doesn't see it.

And the engine houseings? I believe the Air force spec was to house twin GE 404's, but I can't see how they would fit in there due to the extreme fuselage taper down to the diffusers and the postions of the internal weapons bays. I'm no aircraft engineer though, so I'm sure I may be corrected.


Actually, the materials and structures are not classified anymore. As early as 1992, Lockheed released a surprisingly accurate cutaway artists concept showing the structural configuration. The forward fuselage is constructed mainly from aluminum alloys and the rear fuselage (surrounding the engines) is titanium. Partes of the tails and wing edges are fiberglas and graphite-epoxy composites. The outer surface is coated with various plastic radar absorbent materials containing ferrites. Parts of the F-117A, including an entire crashed airframe have been sold at auction to the general public and one of the early FSD prototypes is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Some very detailed photos of the engine/exhaust section have been published in books and online. The reason the exhaust section tapers so much is that the engine doesn'y have an afterburner. There is no reason for one since it flies at subsonic speeds. (At supersonic speeds, the RAM would peel off and the air data systme would not function properly.)

The service ceiling is classified for reasons of operational security (OPSEC). They don't want a potential enemy to know the plane's capabilities. This information will likely be declassifed after its retirement, as happened with the SR-71.

The F-117A is painted black because that is what the customer (USAF) wanted. They were advised that light gray would be a better color.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 12:02 PM
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Senior Citizen,

>>
I was just reading some interesting articles I found on the web about the F-117. After the shootdown of a F-117 over Bosnia, where does it stand today?
>>

With winged weapons like the SDB or a Longshot equipped standard JDAM, the F-117 would still be viable even now.

It's the difference between asking a ninja to haul a mortar tube into range to attack a commander's tent past the outer patrol belt and sentries but not 'within the stockade' of his army.

Vs. requiring the same task via a dagger 'twixt the teeth' walk right into the enemy camp.

>>
It is still a viable platform?
>>

It wasn't a viable platform from the very start sir. It was an overly large testbed fleet produced as a black program without any real accountability to the user command most likely to need it in a real war.

The weather in Europe /sucks/. There is running scud beween 3-7K all year round with frequent afternoon and late evening rain showers. In winter, the overcast can be solid for /days/ at a time.

WHY would you then design a medium level attack aircraft with only optical targeting systems?

Furthermore, the >
Would the US risk sending them out again?
>>

Against putz countries like AfG and Serbia? Yeah. Against first line threats?

Depends.

The F-22 without really capable Spiral-1 SAR/InSAR modes in it's APG-77 is not going to be able to designate targets for it's JDAMs as anything but a prebriefed coordinate bomber. Since they foolishly decided not to integrate a DAMASK type seeker into the JDAM itself (toss the weapon into a GPS funnel or 'basket' which is sufficiently narrow to let the seeker capture a sub-feature aimpoint or offset within the target itself), that is going to limit it's utility.

IMO, the F-117 also likely has a significantly lower -all round- RCS than the Raptor does. One Senator was quoted as saying the F-22's sideon RCS 'looking at the tails' was something closer to the Hindenburg than a Bird.

Again, stealth is a relative 'no see'em too good' system whereby you can hide in a lot paler shadows. But you still need to synergize the total system with standoff munitions, IMO.

>>
I know it happened a few years ago now, but have the US actually used them again in anger after that?
>>

Yes, they were among the jets employed in the initial penetrating munition attacks which failed, utterly, to destroy Saddam's bunker complexes.

Since the HDBT (Hard/Deeply Buried Target) set is one of the key 'hit the nerve, avoid wasting effort on the body' elements of stealth attack, conserving attrition as a function of repeated sorties, the inability of any jet other than the Batarang to carry truly deep penetrating munitions like the GBU-28/37 internally must be offset against the continuing need /and ability/ (with high grain radar looking through weather and small munitions able to target multiple aimpoints per mission) to hit fielded forces which shift constantly, bury themselves among decoys, and form a continuing stalling tactic as much as menace by dint of simply standing on the contested ground and daring the U.S. to commit to another Iraq.

>>
I find all these Black Aircraft projects very, very interesting and it was the black jet legacy that made me dig deeper into these very interesting and amazing flying machines.
>>

The Cockroach is a technologic oddity whose solutions to the RF signature modeling process largely derives from the period it was developed in (limited computational ability to determine aspect factors on returns other than as straight panels).

Now that massively parallel computation and widespread use of complex layered composites is better understood, I think history will have less to say about it as a warfighter than as a 'missing link' type developmental dead end.

What it says about stealth in general may not be nearly so kind.

>>
I was in awe when I first saw the F-117 in pictures and was privilaged to see one in 1995 at Mildenhall Airshow.

I was shocked to hear that one was brought down by enemy fire.

Is this great bird at the end or was there something that they didn't tell us.

Any comments appreciated.
>>

Pierre Sprey, when asked about the F-117 and 'the dark miracle of stealth' said that the reason the F-14/15/16 _ALL_ had limited loss factoring was that the comparitive percentage totals of radar guided heavy weapons able to reach above 10,000ft to those which were optical and/or small caliber limited to much lower, shorter, slants were 'typical' for any Soviet model air defense system which is to say less than a 20% ratio.

Fly above 10K and the trashfire didn't get you. Have deep enough pockets to absolutely /soak/ the 'residual 20%' of the radar threat with jamming and long range ARM and it goes away _using conventional SEAD tactics_ before significant attrition can occur.

Today, the threats reach higher and so the median altitude is probably 15-20,000ft. Even as networking systems and adaptations of BVR AAM as much as 'super weapons' like the S-300, greatly expand the threat bubble around any given target.

But the fact remains that the F-117 is not a system designed to fight a war in spite of a radar IADS but to merely expedite the process by which said system is taken down from the inside of the onion outwards.

Unfortunately, their are other, superior, options for doing this (always have been to be honest) while the blackjets ability to participate equally in the the medium-hi level interdiction game (as part of a package system) is limited by it's low installed thrust and LO compromised control layout.

i.e. You can either build an escort/SOJAM force around penetrating 10-12 black jets to some (likely empty if they know a damn thing about our tactics) IOC/SOC. Or you can use that same force to create salients in an enemy IADS into which conventional jets can gradually 'widen the bulge' using standoff munitions that they carry in far greater densities.

That being the kicker about attrition and the reasoning behind 'short wars' toast. Stealth which eats up supporting missions and yet doesn't nominally create anything more than a point target engagement capability (both bombs today I tell'ya!) actually prolongs a conflict based on a biologic model of attack that increasingly doesn't match the distributed warfighter models we are facing. Low tech or High.


KPl.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 01:49 PM
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Well... I agree...

The F-117 was a good plane... But as said, you can't really thrust in 30 year old design anymore... Of course tehy can be upgraded, but I think that a whole new version should be designed...



posted on Mar, 18 2006 @ 07:24 PM
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One thing you missed, CH1466, is the F-117 was also one of the earliest exclusive users of Smart Bombs. That's 2, 500 pound bombs into whatever target you feel like hitting. It was also kept in great secrecy for years, as an ace up the sleeve for going to war with the Soviet Union. Imagine the effects, militarily, logisticly, and psycologicly had war broken out between us, and we'd have begun bombing things known to be out of cruisemissile range, and impervious to air attack. Ninjas are scarier when you don't know they're there.

As for the neccesity of the aircraft's continueing service, I'd have to argue against. Airdropped Tomahawks have been in service for quite a while now, Along with B-2s and now the F-22. It's replacements have arrived, though it may have a few years left in it while we re-work the doctrines around not having it anymore.



posted on Mar, 18 2006 @ 10:13 PM
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Originally posted by ch1466
Senior Citizen,

>>
I was just reading some interesting articles I found on the web about the F-117. After the shootdown of a F-117 over Bosnia, where does it stand today?
>>

With winged weapons like the SDB or a Longshot equipped standard JDAM, the F-117 would still be viable even now.

It's the difference between asking a ninja to haul a mortar tube into range to attack a commander's tent past the outer patrol belt and sentries but not 'within the stockade' of his army.

Vs. requiring the same task via a dagger 'twixt the teeth' walk right into the enemy camp.

>>
It is still a viable platform?
>>

It wasn't a viable platform from the very start sir. It was an overly large testbed fleet produced as a black program without any real accountability to the user command most likely to need it in a real war.

The weather in Europe /sucks/. There is running scud beween 3-7K all year round with frequent afternoon and late evening rain showers. In winter, the overcast can be solid for /days/ at a time.

WHY would you then design a medium level attack aircraft with only optical targeting systems?

Furthermore, the >
Would the US risk sending them out again?
>>

Against putz countries like AfG and Serbia? Yeah. Against first line threats?

Depends.

The F-22 without really capable Spiral-1 SAR/InSAR modes in it's APG-77 is not going to be able to designate targets for it's JDAMs as anything but a prebriefed coordinate bomber. Since they foolishly decided not to integrate a DAMASK type seeker into the JDAM itself (toss the weapon into a GPS funnel or 'basket' which is sufficiently narrow to let the seeker capture a sub-feature aimpoint or offset within the target itself), that is going to limit it's utility.

IMO, the F-117 also likely has a significantly lower -all round- RCS than the Raptor does. One Senator was quoted as saying the F-22's sideon RCS 'looking at the tails' was something closer to the Hindenburg than a Bird.

Again, stealth is a relative 'no see'em too good' system whereby you can hide in a lot paler shadows. But you still need to synergize the total system with standoff munitions, IMO.

>>
I know it happened a few years ago now, but have the US actually used them again in anger after that?
>>

Yes, they were among the jets employed in the initial penetrating munition attacks which failed, utterly, to destroy Saddam's bunker complexes.

Since the HDBT (Hard/Deeply Buried Target) set is one of the key 'hit the nerve, avoid wasting effort on the body' elements of stealth attack, conserving attrition as a function of repeated sorties, the inability of any jet other than the Batarang to carry truly deep penetrating munitions like the GBU-28/37 internally must be offset against the continuing need /and ability/ (with high grain radar looking through weather and small munitions able to target multiple aimpoints per mission) to hit fielded forces which shift constantly, bury themselves among decoys, and form a continuing stalling tactic as much as menace by dint of simply standing on the contested ground and daring the U.S. to commit to another Iraq.

>>
I find all these Black Aircraft projects very, very interesting and it was the black jet legacy that made me dig deeper into these very interesting and amazing flying machines.
>>

The Cockroach is a technologic oddity whose solutions to the RF signature modeling process largely derives from the period it was developed in (limited computational ability to determine aspect factors on returns other than as straight panels).

Now that massively parallel computation and widespread use of complex layered composites is better understood, I think history will have less to say about it as a warfighter than as a 'missing link' type developmental dead end.

What it says about stealth in general may not be nearly so kind.

>>
I was in awe when I first saw the F-117 in pictures and was privilaged to see one in 1995 at Mildenhall Airshow.

I was shocked to hear that one was brought down by enemy fire.

Is this great bird at the end or was there something that they didn't tell us.

Any comments appreciated.
>>

Pierre Sprey, when asked about the F-117 and 'the dark miracle of stealth' said that the reason the F-14/15/16 _ALL_ had limited loss factoring was that the comparitive percentage totals of radar guided heavy weapons able to reach above 10,000ft to those which were optical and/or small caliber limited to much lower, shorter, slants were 'typical' for any Soviet model air defense system which is to say less than a 20% ratio.

Fly above 10K and the trashfire didn't get you. Have deep enough pockets to absolutely /soak/ the 'residual 20%' of the radar threat with jamming and long range ARM and it goes away _using conventional SEAD tactics_ before significant attrition can occur.

Today, the threats reach higher and so the median altitude is probably 15-20,000ft. Even as networking systems and adaptations of BVR AAM as much as 'super weapons' like the S-300, greatly expand the threat bubble around any given target.

But the fact remains that the F-117 is not a system designed to fight a war in spite of a radar IADS but to merely expedite the process by which said system is taken down from the inside of the onion outwards.

Unfortunately, their are other, superior, options for doing this (always have been to be honest) while the blackjets ability to participate equally in the the medium-hi level interdiction game (as part of a package system) is limited by it's low installed thrust and LO compromised control layout.

i.e. You can either build an escort/SOJAM force around penetrating 10-12 black jets to some (likely empty if they know a damn thing about our tactics) IOC/SOC. Or you can use that same force to create salients in an enemy IADS into which conventional jets can gradually 'widen the bulge' using standoff munitions that they carry in far greater densities.

That being the kicker about attrition and the reasoning behind 'short wars' toast. Stealth which eats up supporting missions and yet doesn't nominally create anything more than a point target engagement capability (both bombs today I tell'ya!) actually prolongs a conflict based on a biologic model of attack that increasingly doesn't match the distributed warfighter models we are facing. Low tech or High.


KPl.


the F/A 22 is alla spect steslath the sides dont give off a big RCS its quite well even almoste xcept the front which is the best RCS



posted on Mar, 18 2006 @ 11:21 PM
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Real soon, the F-22s are taking over the last F-117 base.
It's been in the mil-spec news for weeks.
Here's a link to the local New Mexico paper:

www.alamogordonews.com.../20060302/NEWS01/603020309

Like any other aircraft, it could be mothballed for the future, or scrapped.
I'm not sure which will happen, usually both. The best will stay around a while in storage, and the worst airframes will be disposed of.



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 04:39 AM
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Travellar,

>>
One thing you missed, CH1466, is the F-117 was also one of the earliest exclusive users of Smart Bombs.
>>

Actually Sprey spoke to that issue* as well and his contention was that smart bombs actually posed a greater risk to the black jets because the combination of no laser wheel turn (straight laydown) to preserve stealth aspecting and the need to let debris settle on colocated targets often had them flying not just parallel but _exact_ tracks and this was inevitably making one of them flak bait.

He also had issues with the accuracy and support mission requirements of the Nighthawk in particular and LGB work in general (I believe his principal reference point was the F-111F) and came up with something like /.15/ mission success percentiles due to a combination of:

1. Weather vs. Bombload expenditure.
2. Sortie Soak (supporting the bomber).
3. Accuracy issues with the munitions themselves.

All of which he drew similar parallels to U.S. LGB work in the closing days of Vietnam wherein you had as few as 5 working pods, HUGE thunderheads blocking targets, a fixed target floor (restricting one kind of laser) and packages that were launching as pure LGB support aircraft only to find, as a function of target conditions upon arrival, that they couldn't tackle a secondary target with dumb weapons. Because they didn't have enough jets so configured or enough time on station, to make the switch.

>>
That's 2, 500 pound bombs into whatever target you feel like hitting. It was also kept in great secrecy for years, as an ace up the sleeve for going to war with the Soviet Union. Imagine the effects, militarily, logistically, and psychologically had war broken out between us, and we'd have begun bombing things known to be out of cruise missile range, and impervious to air attack. Ninjas are scarier when you don't know they're there.
>>

First off, the USN E-2Cs were tracking 117's from 150nm away (perhaps suggesting an altitude factor on hotside features). Even as an RN destroyer tracked one from 80nm with a longer wavelength system. There is even evidence that the Iraqi's themselves tracked the jet.

It's not a no-see'em jet. It's a 'no see'em too good' one. The problem with the Ninja motif then being that the targets the 117 would want to hit vs. those which it -could- would be in areas where there were simply too many threat assets (both surface and air) to generate a bubble of safe transit to and from.

The Russians were also no fools. Even (or perhaps especially) against short cross-FLOT missions, they would not have floodlit areas but rather sectored their emissions and used a lot of 'look back' tactics. While nominally this meant searching for 104s and Tornados and 111s coming in at lawnmower heights. They knew enough about the 117 to be searching for that too.

Which means that you cannot guarantee that someone won't come up randomly to the side or behind your ground track and THEN, through an ADGE type link system 'throw the switch' which activates every threat system in a given patch of dirt right under the 117.

Just as happened in Kosovo.

On a system not altogether dissimilar to the early German Himmelbett; _so long as you function as a lone intruder_ wth a requirement for medium altitude delivery and low total force numbers; you are supremely vulnerable to being dogpiled.

In this, the Ninja are a lot better off smashing the commanders tent with a mortar than sneaking in to stick a shiv between his ribs. Because ONLY then can they take advantage of the time limited and local support that a full-on SEAD/EA effort might have yielded 'in the confusion' (operational friction) a penetrative edge.

Again, it only works to shallow depths. Because the Russians had high numbers of quality interceptors and, by 1986, the first A-50s, to otherwise render the 'thread the RF needle' approach workable.

Next, a TLAM BGM-109 has a range of between 700 and 900nm, depending on profile navigation requirements and warhead. One way trip and no conglomeration of non-essential airframe weight (plus heavy boron based fuels) all _really_ add up. If there was a problem with them (for the period), it was principally in the length of time needed to program the weapons for operations. And given we too had been preparing for this eventuality (along with relatively high relief surface feature densities of Europe compared to the PG); even this is not a show stopper.

The nice thing being that you can send 20 tomahawks over the line as a massed-raid affect /to create their own friction/ and not expect any to survival (or more than 1-2 impacts). At about half the cost of a 117.

Which is perfectly adequate for the kinds of high leverage targets that either a stealth asset or a CM would be used against in the 1980s.

Comparitively The 117 is a >
As for the necessity of the aircraft's continueing service, I'd have to argue against. Airdropped Tomahawks have been in service for quite a while now, Along with B-2s and now the F-22. It's replacements have arrived, though it may have a few years left in it while we re-work the doctrines around not having it anymore.
>>

The problem is not the replacement issue. It's the dead certainty that the F-22 has itself been advertised as an /escort/ to enable stealth ops in daylight conditions. Indeed, the initial testing (for GSTF) was done solely with EA-6B and B-2/117 assets with other systems considered 'legacy' and not worth the effort.

The Batarang being itself a platform that operates on an 24-36hr cycle and so incredibly 'symbolic' that it will /never/ be risked as a lone penetrator in anything less than SIOP conditions (or utter absence of threat) it was never really in the picture.

Now that the 117 is going, the question becomes _what does the 22 do_?

It doesn't have a SAR/ISAR targeting mode. That was supposed to come with Spiral 1 which was cancelled in favor of putting a placeholder on the assembly line so Lunchmeat could make a little more payback with a sale to Japan.

Current JDAM work is a matter of 'data entry skills' with pilots typing in coordinates supposedly tasked from offboard sources.

Yet the E-8 and RQ-1/4/9 are not themselves /part/ of the GSTF concept. And in most cases cannot operate aggressively until the very defensive 'battlespace dominance' mission is successful in rolling back enemy defenses.

Such is the inherent stupidity of an Air Force that sells out their own 'cherished program' on the realization that they can have 380 Raptors (and Congress breathing down their spines for lack of export). Or '1,763' F-35. A jet which is now due for service delivery sometime in 2013.

Until and unless the F-22 is _specifically stated_ to be capable with the GBU-32/35 and 39, as an independent targeting platform, it CANNOT replace the Cockroach.


KPl.


* (This being Desert Storm, see _The Pentagon Paradox_)



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 04:59 AM
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For the record, yet again, the F-117 that was shot down in Kosovo was flying the same route, at the same time for *AT LEAST* three straight nights, and was hit WITH BOMB BAYS OPEN. Stealth goes away real fast when you open those doors.



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 06:19 AM
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True... BTW, you got a link to the F-117 shot down in Kosovo thread... I'd like to have a look at it again... And why should F-22 take over a F-117 base...?? Those planes are totally different...



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 06:25 AM
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They aren't "taking over" the base. They're being assigned to the same base. Holloman is a HUGE base and has all the stealth planes based there.



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 06:41 AM
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I understand... Are there any B-2 there...??



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 06:44 AM
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The B-2s are at Whiteman in Missouri. The F-117 fleet is at Holloman. They talked about putting the B-2s there as well, but thank god they came to their senses. It would be the height of stupidity to have ALL your stealth platforms at one base. One nuke, and bye bye stealth fleet.



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 06:48 AM
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My toughts exactly... So are all the B-2 at Whitemans air-force base... That can't be so safe either... Lookinga t the pricetag of a B-2...



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 02:14 PM
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The majority are at Whiteman, but they also have some in Diego Garcia, Guam, and a base in the UK. These are pretty much just for combat in the Middle East, but at least they're spread out now.



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