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Air Force Exploring Unmanned F-117 Stealth Fighter

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posted on Apr, 21 2006 @ 02:24 PM
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Wow, I almost jumped out of my chair when I read this, VERY interesting development!!



Air Force Aimpoints/ Defense Daily

The Air Force is exploring the option of converting some of the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-117A Nighthawk stealth strike aircraft that it otherwise plans to retire in the next several years to unmanned attack platforms, according to service and industry sources.

"We are looking at that," a senior Air Force official told Defense Daily. "There may be some niche areas in which you can address certain target sets and take some risks unmanned that you would not take manned."

The concept is in its infancy and Air Force officials cautioned that it may never gain traction to go beyond an idea on paper.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


Unfortunately more information about this study and possible program is not available, both the Air Force and Lockeed have not provided more info yet.




posted on Apr, 21 2006 @ 02:27 PM
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What a great idea. If its going to be scrapped anyways, why not?

The Plane is all but piloted by a computer anyways.

Very good idea, I cant wait to hear more about it.



posted on Apr, 21 2006 @ 04:06 PM
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As skippy points out its almost on full auto on its attack runs anyway.

This is a very interesting development to say the least.

However untill they actually start doing so I will refrain from holding my breath as the Pentagon is always long on ideas and short on implimentation.

But if enacted, the lack of infligh refuling would limit its range somewhat, but it would make a killer unmanned SEAD aircraft IMHO. Or better yet use a BUFF to controll several of the a/c that would go in ahead of a strike package and do some supression



posted on Apr, 22 2006 @ 09:43 PM
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eerrr cannot an F-117 be in flight refueled??? thats just stupid if thats the case! no wonder they are going to get binned, not reach at all...

Beautiful plane though - love it.



posted on Apr, 22 2006 @ 10:03 PM
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Originally posted by MadGreebo
eerrr cannot an F-117 be in flight refueled???


Yes it can, but if it is converted to an unmanned version then it most likely will loose that ability. Don't quote me on this but I don't think any unmanned UAV has demonstrated the ability to refuel in midair.

As for the concept, if they are to be retired then I suppose converting them to unmanned versions an using them more aggressively is far better than sending them to AMARC.






[edit on 22-4-2006 by WestPoint23]



posted on Apr, 23 2006 @ 03:01 AM
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If you checkout the NASA Dryden's web site you will see that back in 2003 they were testing the Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) project . Which was to evaluated the capability of an F/A-18A aircraft as an in-flight refueling tanker with the objective of devising an automated aerial refueling system for unmanned air vehicles.

Also seen recently ( but cannot remember where) an aircraft took over the control of another aircarft while in flight.

Dont think its an impossible task to fly a Unmanned F-117 and hook up to a tanker for refuelling. I think the best way would be for the Tanker to take control of the UAV F-117 due to the higher operating speeds .



posted on Apr, 23 2006 @ 05:46 AM
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Originally posted by ajsr71
If you checkout the NASA Dryden's web site you will see that back in 2003 they were testing the Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) project .


Yes I know, however since the initial report of this in 02/03 I cannot find much about its results, and I’m not sure if they ever succeeded in refueling an unmanned vehicle.


NASA DRYDEN EXPLORING UAV AERIAL REFUELING TECHNOLOGIES

Engineers at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center are evaluating the capability of an F/A-18A aircraft as an in-flight refueling tanker to develop analytical models for an automated aerial refueling system for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

The Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) project is documenting how an operational tanker's drogue basket responds when in the presence of the receiver aircraft. Currently little flight-obtained dynamics data exists. For this modeling study, a second F/A-18 is flying as the receiver aircraft.

The F/A-18A tanker aircraft is undergoing flight test envelope expansion with an aerodynamic pod containing air-refueling equipment carried beneath the fuselage. During the 1990s, the refueling pod was integrated on the newer F/A-18E/F. According to AAR project engineers, the objectives of the recent flights at NASA Dryden are to demonstrate the operational flight envelope and to assess the free-stream hose and drogue dynamics on the earlier model F/A-18s.

Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR)





Other Sources
NASA Dryden AAR Project
X-45 Mid-Air Refueling Program
AAR Project Picture Gallery

[edit on 23-4-2006 by WestPoint23]



posted on Dec, 2 2006 @ 04:29 PM
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WestPoint23
I’m not sure if they ever succeeded in refueling an unmanned vehicle
.


They have now.


WestPoint23
I don't think any unmanned UAV has demonstrated the ability to refuel in midair
.


It has now. Not an F-117 though.



Boeing Demonstrates UAV Automated Aerial Refueling Capability ST. LOUIS, Nov. 27, 2006 --

The Boeing [NYSE: BA] Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) program successfully completed flight tests in August that demonstrated for the first time an unmanned air vehicle's ability to autonomously maintain a steady refueling station behind a tanker aircraft. "With autonomous air refueling capabilities, unmanned aircraft will have greater combat radius and loiter time," said David Riley, Boeing Phantom Works AAR program manager.

Boeing Demonstrates UAV Automated Aerial Refueling Capability



[edit on 12/2/06 by makeitso]



posted on Dec, 2 2006 @ 05:45 PM
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The near future of air combat I beleive will be to hire computer geeks that are very good at computer games and sit hundreds of them in fighter jet simulators with screens on all sides. They will each control one jet in the sky by remote control. Each geek will be assigned a fighter jet under his control with real time data and footage from the fighter and launch attack sorties that way. You can this way have smaller jets because you take the actual cockpit out of the picture or use the cockpit area for another weapons system if needed.

The next step after this would be for A.I computer control of each and every fighter jet in the sky.

This is kinda scary putting in the hands of A.I because you run the risk of a Terminator 3 scenario.

My contribution.



posted on Dec, 2 2006 @ 08:51 PM
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I think it would be interesting and perhaps a goodwill gesture to let the UK and Australia buy some of the F-117's at a bargain price just as a thank you for being such great allies.

Just a thought...

[edit on 12-3-2006 by intelgurl]



posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 03:00 AM
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I'm liking both ideas. Keep just a few around for future projects, convert about half into UCAV's, and then sell the rest to the UK and Australia at bargain prices. I've got agree, they've been fantastic allies to have and I'm sure they could use something to either tinker with for stealth, or for operational use.



posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 02:09 PM
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Intresting concept to say the least! The only quesion I have is what do they plan to do with it? The F-117's stealth technology is long outdated and considered obsolete by the Pentagon. Back in 1991 General McPeak (then USAF Chief of Staff) was quoted as saying:


I wouldn't spend any amount of money on obsolete technology!


Source: Jane's At the Controls: How to fly and Fight in the F-117A Stealth Fighter. By Jon Lake. Page 92.

If the Air Force sees the F-117 as outdated and obsolete, why would they make a UAV out of it?

Personally, I don't see it happening! I think the Nighthawk's retirement party is already planned. As far as the US Air Force is concerned, the F-117's next stop is next to the SR-71 in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museam in Washington, DC.

Tim



posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 02:41 PM
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I for one could see it being used as either a test concept, sort of showing that we can take an older plane and make a UAV from it. Also, although much of the stealth is pretty outdated, it worked on Iraq in the first Gulf War so I don't see why it wouldn't work on a few other countries that aren't very up to date. But aside from that the Nighthawk's retirement means I'm going to need to visit the Smithsonian again.



posted on Dec, 4 2006 @ 12:38 AM
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Originally posted by Ghost01

If the Air Force sees the F-117 as outdated and obsolete, why would they make a UAV out of it?

Tim

The F-117 may be outdated, but obsolete? I don't think so.
It is still stealthy, it didn't all of a sudden go from having an RCS the size of a B-B to an RCS the size of a C-130.
It would still be quite useful in going up against air defenses that do not have advanced tech weapons like S-300's with the latest radar, etc.
So what do you do with an airframe that is stealthy but compromised by advanced tech? Throw it away? No. It is still more survivable than an F-15 or F-16 in a highly defended area, so send it in without a man onboard.
No life risked, stealthy asset on a bombing run... makes perfect sense to me.



posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 06:44 AM
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Originally posted by intelgurl
The F-117 may be outdated, but obsolete? I don't think so.


Intelgurl,

For the record, I was quoting an outside source! The words in the white box came from Air Force General McPeak in 1991.

The only thing I ever said that came from me was: I don't see the Air Force spending money on something THEY see as Obsolete! You can debate this with me all you want, but it won't change the Fact that General McPeak said the F-117 is obsolete.

Tim



posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 07:14 AM
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Originally posted by Ghost01
You can debate this with me all you want, but it won't change the Fact that General McPeak said the F-117 is obsolete.

Tim

Ok, I won't debate you on this - I'll refute McPeak's statement.
If the F-117 was deemed so obsolete by the USAF how come it was used in conflicts after the 1991 speech in which McPeak made that assertion?
The F-117 was used in Bosnia and Gulf War 2, both post-1991 conflicts.

The fact that 1 F-117 was shot down does not make it any more obsolete than the F-18, also shot down in that conflict.

My statement stands and history has slapped McPeak's statement in the face.
The F-117 may be less effective than it once was but it is still a very low observable aircraft and the idea of making it unmanned is a wise step in utilizing such a platform as it nears the end of it's timeline.



posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 08:56 AM
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Originally posted by intelgurl
I think it would be interesting and perhaps a goodwill gesture to let the UK and Australia buy some of the F-117's at a bargain price just as a thank you for being such great allies.

Just a thought...



I think the RAF are skint enough as it is, and I dunno if the Auzzies would need it. The expense of aquiring knowledge to operate and actually operating would probably be prohibitive.




More generally, this is probably a route taken by the more open thinkers in the USAF to get around conservative obstruction within the Air Force - once they get UAVs hitting 'mainstream targets' the end of the manned fighter/bomber is in sight.


Imagine the publicity if a UF-117 [can I call it that?
] bombs the sh_t out of a nuc missile construction plant in NK? A place which was too high risk for even B-2s, but a ground-hugging unmanned platform could do it?

The USAF would instantly be looking at converting half the fleet to unmanned, just through opinion swing/perception change if not capability improvement.



posted on Dec, 9 2006 @ 02:08 PM
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Originally posted by kilcoo316
Imagine the publicity if a UF-117 [can I call it that?
] bombs the sh_t out of a nuc missile construction plant in NK? A place which was too high risk for even B-2s, but a ground-hugging unmanned platform could do it?

The USAF would instantly be looking at converting half the fleet to unmanned, just through opinion swing/perception change if not capability improvement.


kilcoo316,

The risk everyone is talking about with NK, is political, not military. A B-2 could bomb the S*** out of NK and be home for breakfast without a scratch. The issue in play is what Kim Jung Ill might do if attacked. No one can afford the long term fall out of such a move at the moment.

I think you are looking at the risk issue in the wrong light!

Tim

[edit on 9-12-2006 by Ghost01]



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 04:01 AM
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good way of explanning it

SGT Senator
AAFC 4WG
Australia



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 08:24 AM
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Originally posted by Ghost01
kilcoo316,

The risk everyone is talking about with NK, is political, not military. A B-2 could bomb the S*** out of NK and be home for breakfast without a scratch. The issue in play is what Kim Jung Ill might do if attacked. No one can afford the long term fall out of such a move at the moment.

I think you are looking at the risk issue in the wrong light!

Tim

[edit on 9-12-2006 by Ghost01]


Its only meant to be an example - a UCAV pentrating a defence deemed too risky for a manned mission.

Whether the VLO state of the F-117 (in comparison to the B-2) allows such missions to be anyway viable or not is another question.

[edit on 28/12/06 by kilcoo316]




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