F117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Essay Research Paper

F117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Essay, Research Paper

F117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter


My paper is on the F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter. I am doing this research on an account of the Nighthawk being an interesting, modern, and technological subject. Some may confuse this fighter with the B-2 Stealth Bomber. The B-2 s construction was provoked by the Nighthawk due to the Nighthawk s performance in many sorties.



The specifications and dimensions of the Nighthawk may be hard to understand, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask me about them. The primary function of the Nighthawk is to be a fighter or attacker. The length from nose to rear is 65′ 11″, the height of the Nighthawk is 12′ 5″, and the empty fighter weight is 29,500lbs. The maximum total weight this fighter can hold is 52,500lbs. The wingspan from side-end to side-end is 43 4X and the area of one wing is 1,140 ft. squared The speed of the Nighthawk is in the high subsonic range because the cruise speed is from Mach .8 to Mach .9 and the maximum speed is Mach 1 at 36,000 ft. The range of the Nighthawk is unlimited with air refueling from another plane. The engines of the Nighthawk are two

12,500lb. General Electric F404-F1D2 non-afterburning turbofan engines with 10,600 lbs. of thrust. The Nighthawk s armament is a non-fixed internal weapons carriage and the primary weapons on the Nighthawk are the paveway series GBU-10 and GBU-27 laser guided bombs. There is usually one person to fly the Nighthawk and the cost to build each Nighthawk is around 45 million dollars. The United States Air Force has produced 59

Nighthawks with the help of Lockheed s “Skunkworks.”

Stealth Technology

What makes the Nighthawk so stealthy are Radar Absorbent Materials or RAMs for short. The primary RAM for the Nighthawk is Dow Chemical s Fibaloy.(Jones, 1989, p.45+77) Fibaloy is black and has great radar-energy absorbency.(Jones, 1989, p.45) Fibaloy is made by inserting glass fibers into plastic. (Jones, 1989, p.45) Another RAM is Reinforced Carbon Fiber. Reinforced Carbon Fiber absorbs and diminishes radar-energy. It also helps reduce the Nighthawk s infrared signature.(Jones, 1989, p.77) The shape of the Nighthawk also contributes to the stealth. The Nighthawk has rounded surfaces so radar waves bounce off in different directions. All of these surfaces are bent in different angles so one surface does not share a common reflective angle with another surface.

There are also other modifications to help the Nighthawk s stealth abilities. For example, a special modified exhaust system decreases the amount of heat from the Nighthawk s turbofan engines. Also, the interior is classified because it is believed that RAM is also used internally.

The Nighthawk is not really a fighter. The Nighthawk does not have the ability to fight air to air combat. There are at least two reasons for this. One, the Nighthawk has absolutely no defenses like chaff, flare, pensers, etc. Two, the Nighthawk relies completely on its stealth abilities and the night to avoid hostile measures and countermeasures.

Development and History

The Nighthawk was developed:

“..developed in response to an Air Force request for an

aircraft capable of attacking high value targets without

being detected by hostile radar systems.”(USAF Museum Archives, 1998, p.1)

The decision to build the Nighthawk was made in 1978 while the contract was awarded to Lockheed Advanced Development Projects. After this, the first stealth prototype was code named “HAVE BLUE.”

There were some important dates in the history of the Nighthawk.

The first flight of the Nighthawk was in 1981.

The first Nighthawk was delivered in 1982.

The first group to receive a Nighthawk was the 4450th Tactical Group that gained operational capability in October 1983.

The Nighthawk was first used in combat in operation “JUST CAUSE” on December 19,1989 when two stealths from the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing attacked military targets in Panama.

The last Nighthawk was delivered in 1990.

The Nighthawk also participated in operation “DESERT STORM” and “DESERT SHIELD.” In operation DESERT STORM, Nighthawks flew 1,271 sorties, had an 80% million success rate, and they also suffered no losses or battle damage. The Nighthawks were also the first aircraft to strike Baghdad in the opening minutes of the air war.


The Nighthawk is a good stealth aircraft because of its radar-energy absorbent abilities. This aircraft was specifically made for stealth attacks. Lockheed has used good RAMs and shape technology on the Nighthawk. The USAF cannot use this aircraft to strike in the daytime, though. They did very well in operation “DESERT STORM” due to its mission success rate.


I think that the Nighthawk is a truly magnificent technological marvel.

Lockheed has made a great aircraft that I think will influence battles to come. This aircraft probably has a long future ahead of it.


Department of the Air Force: Fact Sheet: F-117A Nighthawk.


found October 31,1998.

Jones, Joseph. Stealth Technology. Pennsylvania: Tab Books Inc.,


Lockheed F-117A Stealth Fighter.

http://alpha1.fsb.hr/ da961463/f-117.html. found October 31, 1998.

The Stealth Fighter.


found October 31, 1998.

Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk.


found October 31, 1998.


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