US Air Force 144th Fighter Wing Welcomes Lockheed F-117 Nighthawks for Training
US Air Force 144th Fighter Wing Welcomes Lockheed F-117 Nighthawks for Training

US Air Force 144th Fighter Wing Welcomes Lockheed F-117 Nighthawks for Training

The U.S. Air Force 144th Fighter Wing welcomed the arrival of two F-117 Nighthawk aircraft Sept 13, 2021 to the Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, to conduct dissimilar air combat training missions. 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 is the first time that F-117 Nighthawks have landed in Fresno. Their presence immediately received interest from multiple media outlets and some members of the community. 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.

Lt. Col. David Allamandola, 144th FW Advanced Programs Officer said, “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. This training offers incredible value for everyone involved and presents new challenges to test difficult tactics in a realistic environment. Not everyone gets to do this, so it’s been exciting creating the ground work with our partners to make this a reality. The enthusiasm is contagious. We are incredibly thankful to our guests for their tireless efforts over an extended period of time to make this a reality. It’s been fantastic to see this plan come together.”

An F-117 Nighthawk lands at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Sept. 15, 2021, after conducting a training mission with the local Air National Guard unit. Two F-117 Nighthawks are participating in dissimilar air combat training missions this week along with F-15 pilots from the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno, Calif. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Jason Sanchez)

U.S. Air Force Col. Troy Havener, 144th Fighter Wing commander, said, “We have the distinct honor of being the first Air Force unit to host them for a full week of training. 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. 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,” referencing the Wing’s deliberate partnership building efforts and their demonstrated operational proficiency as critical to securing the training opportunity.

The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a semi-retired American single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft that was developed by Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works division and operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). It was the first operational aircraft to be designed around stealth technology. The aircraft was shrouded in secrecy until it was revealed to the public in 1988. Of the 64 F-117s built, 59 were production versions, with the other five being prototypes.As of January 2021, the U.S. 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.

F-117 Nighthawks are accompanied by F-15 Eagles on the flightline of the 144th Fighter Wing located at the Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif. Sept. 15, 2021. The F-117 Nighthawks are participating in dissimilar air combat training missions this week along with F-15 pilots from the 144th FW. (Air National Guard photo by Capt. Jason Sanchez)