“Retired” stealth Nighthawk is hiding some New SECRETS….
There are about 6 legit theories as to the recent F-117 Nighthawks flybys over the Nevada desert.
All of the speculation revolves around ONE FACT:
F-117s “ping” back the LOWEST observable radar signature of any USAF plane ever (officially) produced.
F-117s are the stealthiest aircraft ever flown into combat.
Most people also mistake the word “Stealth” to mean “Invisible” to radar.
Nope. Stealth is a measurement of distance-to-size that a radar/future sensors pick-up from the “ping” reflected off the (in this example) F-117.
Quick recap from earlier post leading to WHY?
The F-117 Nighthawk has been ripping through the “Panamint Valley” in the remote Tonopah Test Range.
This top-secret base is located in the deadly Mojave Desert heat.
Tonopah runs clandestine aircraft tests. The base’s security levels are considered to be (a tiny) level below its famous air-space testing grounds partner to the south, known as “Area 51”.
The following quotes comes from Tyler Rogoway, who is a free-lance writer and runs “Aviation_Intel”.
It is an in depth break-down of: Why the retired F-117 is back and what the USAF can learn from the ol’ stealth bird.
“At the time of the F-117s official retirement (11-yrs ago), and its subsequent banishment to tomb-like hangars deep in the Nevada Desert, the aircraft was the most understood low observable platform in the history of aeronautics.
Hundreds of thousands of hours were flown on the fleet of 64 aircraft.”
“In other words, the F-117 is a known commodity to the DoD and the USAF, and this is especially true when it comes to the aircraft’s unique radar, radio, and infrared signature.”
“In fact, I would not be surprised if the F-117 represents the most studied aircraft ‘signature’ of all time.”
One more detail, before getting to the short version of the 6 theories as to why the F-117 has been seen multiple times over the past few weeks.
While these flybys happened, photographers noticed that F-16 Fighting Falcons were also flying above.
The F-16s hovering above may be tracking the Nighthawk with the new Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system.
Testing new sensor pods that are designed to pick-up the signal of enemy newest stealth aircraft such as Russia’s “Sukhoi Su-57” and China’s “Chengdu J-20”.
What better way to actually show whether the IRST tech works…test it on the Nighthawk.
Testing new RAM (Radar Absorbent Materials) and/or “paint-like” coatings on the surface of the F-117.
Nighthawks are the best controlled-variable asset that the USAF could use for testing future technologies. Change the surface instead of a design…if that lessens the radar “ping”…that saves a sh*t-ton of money.
Is it a future unmanned project?
Two F-117s have been seen. One had a pilot but the other flew at a distance, far from where the photographers were allowed to go. However, photographers noticed it had a new “bulge” behind the cockpit (unmanned).
– Source PopularMechanics.com
Tracking ever changing location of our enemy’s mobile Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM systems).
Theory 5 and 6 “Measuring Stick”
The Nighthawk is a “Measuring Stick” for testing how both our CURRENT fighter jets…
…and FUTURE classified jet designs compare in stealthiness relative to the F-117.
Keep on a readin’ for the details on these theories.
I know “words” but wtf is more interesting than one of the most advanced planes humans have ever created?
(Just sayin’ -Rick)
At least listen to the near “silent” fly-bys in the following video.
First pass at the 1:35-mark
Second pass at the 4:45-mark
Quotes comes from Tyler Rogoway on the F-117 flybys through the “Panamint Valley” in the remote Tonopah Test Range:
“The trough-like valley with a relatively smooth and flat floor offers a remarkably good backdrop for testing detection and tracking of such a stealthy target flying at low-level against uniform ground clutter.”
“It is also electromagnetic emissions quiet area, which can be beneficial for radar testing.
We know for a fact that testing of advanced IRST systems is deeply underway. The F-15C/D and Super Hornet Forces are slated to get these sensors en masse soon.”
“America’s enemies also use the technology for passive detection of airborne targets, which is totally immune to a stealthy plane’s small radar signature.”
In fact, we know an F-16 that flies test support out of Groom Lake/Area-51 is outfitted with the same IRST sensor intended for the Super Hornets and the Eagles. That aircraft was also caught on camera very near where the F-117 was, but it was blasting through “Star Wars Canyon.”
“With this in mind, the F-117 could be theoretically used as something of a “flying measuring stick” for evaluating a radar system’s ability to detect and track low-observable flying objects.”
“Or conversely, it could be used as a surrogate to test new radar absorbent materials and coatings applied to its flat, facet like structure that was originally built to accept such applications.”
“By specifically utilizing the F-117 for such-real life tests and evaluations, defense program managers could have a control variable, in this case the F-117′s well documented radar cross-section, infrared, and visual signature, and an independent variable for which to test upon it.”
“Testers of new signature control applications, such as an innovative new version of radar absorbent material (RAM), could leverage highly accurate real-life metrics and historical data collected throughout the life and development of the F-117.”
“They can then fly their new application on the jet so that new data can be collected for which to compare and help judge the effectiveness of the experimental capability being tested.”
On the radar and infrared tracking side of argument, the F-117 is also a near-perfect and highly available low observable aircraft to test everything from ground based radars and SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) systems—both foreign and domestic.”
“By doing so, testers can come up with a clear idea of what the capabilities of the (enemy) system being tested are against (and learn which SAMs are) hard to detect target(s).”
“In doing so, tacticians can work on solutions for defeating any weaknesses in the system.”
“Even keeping a couple “sterile” F-117s available for calibrating and improving the DYCOMS array at Groom Lake, used for measuring the radar cross sections of aircraft flying under real world conditions, may be in itself an entirely necessary and worthwhile reason to keep a small cadre of F-117s operational.”
Thanks guys for taking the time to give this “Have Blue” story a read.
Follow Tyler Rogoway on Twitter:
Tyler Rogoway on TheDrive.com
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