Thumbnail Filmstrip of F-117A Nighthawk USAF 53rd WEG, 53rd TEG Det 1, #85-0835 The Dragon 1:72 HA5804 Images
Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk Diecast Model
USAF 53rd WEG, 53rd TEG Det 1, #85-0835 The Dragon, Holloman AFB, NM, 2004
During the development of the F-117, Lockheed's Skunk Works found that to evade visual detection the best solution was a paint scheme in different shades of gray. But since the F-117 had to fly only night missions, the U.S. Air Force stated that the Nighthawks had to be painted in black. However, in 2003 one example of the F-117A was painted in gray with the task to determine if the aircraft could play a role in daytime missions. This Nighthawk was nicknamed "The Dragon" and the operational testing on the type was accomplished at Holloman AFB (Air Force Base), New Mexico, by the 53rd Test and Evaluation Detachment 1 (Det 1). Flying two missions every day Det 1 pilots were able to determine their daytime capabilities and limitations. The new kind of coat proved immediately that the "classic" black paint scheme wouldn't be good during daylight operations. During the tests "The Dragon" was also upgraded with new software and hardware; furthermore the new paints were evaluated by measuring the impact that the gray had on the maintenance. All these trials were necessary to provide an accurate evaluation of the daytime operations with the gray paint scheme, to ensure a 24-hour stealth presence above the future battlefields. However, despite the good results of the trials, "The Dragon" would have been the only F-117 painted in gray: in fact, in 2005 when the USAF had to take a decision about repainting in gray the entire fleet , it was decided to retire all the Nighthawks. The gray F-117 made its last flight on March 12th, 2007 at Holloman AFB.
|Aircraft Name:||F-117 Nighthawk|