Original stealth fighter aircraft given grand farewell in US

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Washington, March 23 : The F-117A Nighthawk, which is the original stealth fighter aircraft, was given a grand send-off this week at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, US.

According to a report in the Scientific American, a ceremony was held to bid adieu to the fighter aircraft, which concluded with a flashy flyby of one of the retiring jets, its giant underbelly painted in red, white and blue colors.

The aircraft, which may have been developed in secrecy, made its first test flight in 1981.

The Cold War-era Nighthawks, nearly completely covered with a radar absorbing material, were sent into action in 1989's brief skirmish in Panama and again in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, where they flew nearly 1,300 sorties over Iraq and Kuwait (2 percent of the total combat missions), striking 40 percent of the most highly defended, strategic targets.

A major reason for retiring these jets is that the US Air Force prefers to spend its funding on the next generation of aircraft, including the B-2 Spirit, F-22 Raptor and soon-to-be-fielded F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

These new planes are more adept and less expensive to fly and maintain than the retiring F-117A, according to the Air Force.

The old Nighthawks will be placed in storage at an airfield in the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

ANI

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