Despite bowing out of service in 2008, the US Air Force’s iconic F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft continue to make public appearances, with the latest being air combat training with F-15 Eagles in California.
Two F-117 Nighthawks were welcomed by the 144th Fighter Wing on September 13 to the Fresno Air National Guard Base, to conduct dissimilar air combat training missions.
This is the first time that F-117 Nighthawks have landed in Fresno.
“We have the distinct honor of being the first Air Force unit to host them for a full week of training,” US Air Force Col. Troy Havener, 144th Fighter Wing commander, said.
Over the next few days the 144th FW’s F-15 pilots will conduct multiple dissimilar air combat training missions with the F-117 pilots.
“This week we reap the benefits of two plus years of careful communication and determined coordination with agencies and leaders overseeing these unique USAF assets,” said Havener. “The training against integrated forces that include the F-117 will challenge and sharpen pilots, as well as build confidence in tactics and systems needed to defend our nation.”
“Our Griffin pilots, operations, and maintainers, are thrilled to be able to participate in this unique opportunity. It is a very special privilege to do open air training missions with the F-117 Nighthawks,” Lt. Col. David Allamandola, 144th FW Advanced Programs Officer said.
Although officially retired, many F-117s remain airworthy and are used to support limited research and training missions based on overall cost effectiveness and their ability to offer unique capabilities.
As of January 2021, the US Air Force has 48 F-117s remaining in its inventory, and is disposing of approximately four aircraft each year. As airframes are disposed, they are offered to museums though the USAF Strategic Basing program and the National Museum of the USAF.