The Lockheed F-117A "Stealth" fighter is one of the most sophisticated warplanes ever built. Almost invisible to radar, the F-117 has revolutionized air warfare. It was operated at first under conditions of total secrecy, but in 1991 the U.S. Air Force deployed it openly to Saudi Arabia for service in the Gulf War. Ranging the night skies over Baghdad with impunity, it struck the most heavily defended Iraqi targets with stunning effect.
The Stealth fighter has two main means of defeating enemy radar:
- The faceted construction deflects most radar energy in multiple directions, with only a very small fraction being intermittently reflected back to the transmitter.
- Radar absorbent material and composites absorb radar energy, leaving much less to be reflected.
- Type: Single-seat low-observable strike fighter.
- Powerplant: Two non-afterburning General Electric F404-GE-F1D2 engines, each delivering 10,800 lb.-thrust.
- Maximum speed: Mach 1 (estimated).
- Combat Radius: 750 miles unrefueled, with 5,000 lb. weapon load.
- Service ceiling: Not revealed.
- Weapons: Up to 5,500 lb. carried internally. Principle weapons are BLU-109 low-level or GBU10/GBU27 medium-level laser-guided bombs. Provision for two AIM-9L air-to-air missiles.
- Weights: Empty 30,000 lb.; loaded 52,500 lb.
- Span 43 ft. 4 in.
- Length 65 ft. 11 in.
- Height 12 ft. 5 in.
- Wing area (estimated) 913 sq. ft.