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December 2, 2023 1:56 am

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The U.S. Air Force Wants The F-117 To Fly Until 2034



File photograph of an F-117 Nighthawk touchdown for the primary time on the Fresno Yosemite Worldwide Airport, Sept 13, 2021, to conduct coaching missions with the native Air Nationwide Guard unit. (Air Nationwide Guard photograph by Capt. Jason Sanchez)

The U.S. Air Power is on the lookout for suppliers of upkeep and logistic help to proceed flight operations of the Nighthawk for 10 years.

The F-117 Nighthawk, the primary operational stealth plane, was formally retired in 2008. Nevertheless, as we have often reported right here at The Aviationist, the Nighthawks have continued to fly, unofficially, from Tonopah Take a look at Vary (TTR) airfield with the Air Power neither confirming nor denying it.

In 2021, issues began to alter, with the service publishing the first official images of the type nonetheless concerned in flight operations on the DVIDS (Protection Visible Info Distribution Service) community. Now it seems that in September 2022 the Air Power Take a look at Heart printed a Request For Info (RFI) a few attainable 10-year contract for upkeep and logistics help companies for the F-117A fleet on the TTR airfield, acknowledging that the U.S. Air Power is prepared to keep the aircraft flying no less than till 2034.

Tonopah, a extremely categorised web site about 150 miles northwest of Las Vegas, has been the home to the F-117 because it was inducted in service in addition to different “unique” varieties like Russian MiGs and Sukhois concerned in categorised applications like Fixed Peg and alike. The airfield can be the place the place all of the F-117 had been saved after the official retirement, awaiting the eventual disposal.

The details in the RFI talked about an Trade Day to be held in October 2022, the place the Air Power was going to fulfill firms with the wanted {qualifications} and use the data to find out one of the best acquisition technique and procure this service, anticipated to kick off from January 1, 2024.

The RFI additionally gives additional particulars about the kind of help the Air Power is on the lookout for:

Background: These companies contain the next major technical aims:

  • Upkeep and logistics help for F-117A restricted flight operations on the Tonopah Take a look at Vary (TTR) airfield.
  • The preservation of the F-117A plane fleet in an prolonged storage situation.
  • The demilitarization/declassification of F-117A plane decided to be an extra to Division of Protection necessities. Anticipated demilitarization/declassification fee is anticipated is a most of 2-3 plane per 12 months.

Efficiency areas: The next are projected core efficiency areas associated to F-117A Upkeep and help companies:

  • F-117A Plane Upkeep Providers
    • Upkeep administration
    • Launch and restoration operations
    • Plane inspection (pre/publish flight, section, calendar, and so on.)
    • Plane techniques troubleshooting and restore
    • Upkeep help duties
      • Aircrew flight tools (AFE)
      • Wheel and tire upkeep
      • Oil evaluation
      • Plane weight and steadiness administration
      • Engine upkeep/administration
      • Low Observable (LO) configuration administration, together with composite and structural restore help
      • Mishap response
      • Munitions dealing with and storage – ejection seat explosives solely
    • Upkeep plans and scheduling
  • F-117A Mission Assist
    • F-117A T-2 modification companies
    • Instrumentation techniques design, set up and repairs
    • Operation and upkeep of the F-117A mission planning system
    • Floor Diagnostic Imaging Radar operations and sustainment
    • Avionics restore utilizing Consolidated Automated Take a look at Tools (CATES)
    • Plane Structural Integrity Program administration
  • High quality administration
  • Logistics help
  • Environmental, Security and Occupational Well being program administration
  • Plane demilitarization, declassification and museum supply help
File photograph. F-117 Nighthawks are accompanied by F-15 Eagles on the flightline of the 144th Fighter Wing positioned on the Fresno Air Nationwide Guard Base, Calif. Sept. 15, 2021. (Air Nationwide Guard photograph by Capt. Jason Sanchez)

Extra details about the T-2 modification companies will be readily present in a publicly accessible Air Power Materiel Command guide:

“T-2 modifications are configuration adjustments that help analysis and improvement; design adjustments to current T-2 modifications; and Developmental Take a look at and Analysis applications or in-service testing of techniques or tools. The T-2 modifications are momentary {hardware} or software program adjustments or alterations to aerospace autos, airborne help tools, exterior and inside shops, subsystems, parts, or help tools which is ruled by Technical Orders (T.O.) that interface with an aerospace car. T-2 modifications embody instrumentation modifications, however can be momentary adjustments to show, develop, or characterize future everlasting modifications.”

This considerably provides a extra official affirmation to the truth that the F-117 is being actively used not just for training purposes as adversary aircraft and cruise missile surrogate, but in addition for analysis, improvement, check and analysis. Air Power spokesperson Ann Stefanek stated the identical additionally in an announcement launched to media, mentioning that the service continues to “fly sure [F-117A] plane to help restricted analysis and coaching actions”.

It’s not identified, nonetheless, what number of Nighthawks will profit from this contract. Of the 59 F-117s constructed, the spokesperson confirmed that roughly 45 F-117s are at present within the stock, with greater than 10 already accredited for transfer to museums. She additionally talked about that the Air Power will ultimately do away with the whole F-117 fleet, however a timeline for this isn’t but accessible.

Curiously, the RFI additionally exhibits a slow-down within the Nighthawk’s disposal, mentioning that the anticipated most fee of demilitarization/declassification is now solely between two and three jets per 12 months. In 2017 the Air Power obtained the authorization from the Congress to start disposing of the F-117 at a fee of as much as 4 airframes per 12 months.

Formally retired or not, the F-117 is making a comeback, and it’s right here to remain for a very long time.

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based mostly in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally learning to realize a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT methods utilized to the world of army operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.


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