World's first stealth fighter goes on display at Reagan library in California

Nicknamed 'Unexpected Guest', F-117 Night Hawk was retired in 2008 and is on display in Reagan library

The stealth fighter F-117 is officially on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to unveil the new exhibit of the stealth craft Nighthawk, nicknamed, Unexpected Guest. Lockheed Martin restored and prepared the fighter for display.

The stealth fighter entered service during president Reagan's tenure. According to the library, the fighter has flown around 78 combat missions, which is more than all the other F-117s, it was revealed during the Reagan National Defense Forum at the museum in Simi Valley, reported the Los Angeles Daily news. It joins an F-14 fighter as a part of the permanent display which showcases Reagan's effort to strengthen US national defense.

F-117, Nighthawk (First Generation stealth aircraft)
Picture for Representation Pixabay

The aircraft entered service in May 1984 and was designed to evade the radar as a subsonic aircraft that used radar-absorbing material. The angular shape of the fighter reflects the radar waves. The black paint camouflages the craft at night while flying precision strikes.

The craft has been put on display as a joint project between Reagan Foundation & Institute and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. Between 1981 and 2008 Lockheed Martin has produced 59 operational F-117s and five developmental prototypes. It was not until 1988 the stealth craft were acknowledged because the technology was classified.

The Gulf War

The US had the biggest advantage during the 1991 Gulf War because of the F-117. Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Stimpert told the Associated Press that they had seen tests where it worked but they hoped it really did. Stimpert also said that the first real baptism by fire was the opening night of the Gulf War over Baghdad. The craft flew 1,300 total missions and not one was struck.

Officials said that Lockheed spent $1m to restore the airplane and the foundation spent $200,000 to install it as part of the library's Peace Through Strength Exhibit. The first generation stealth craft had retired in 2008. The present aircraft stealth technology stands in the fifth generation and is moving towards the sixth.

This article was first published on December 9, 2019