Armour Collection B11F023 USAF Lockheed F-117A Stealth Fighter-Bomber - "Stealth Hawk", Retirement 2008 (1:48 Scale)
"It's now time to say farewell, farewell to an old friend."
- George Zielsdorff, Lockheed's vice president for the F-117A program
It may just be the most sophisticated warplane ever built. Virtually invisible to radar, the F-117 Ghostrider, better known as the "Stealth", has revolutionized the tenets of air warfare. Developed in secrecy, the Stealth made its combat debut over Panama in the late nineteen-eighties and was again employed in the Gulf War a few years later. Prowling the night skies over Baghdad with impunity, it struck the most heavily defended Iraqi targets while eluding the enemy's extensive anti-aircraft defenses. The F-117's unusual shape, advanced composite materials, and internal weapons loadout make it all but invisible to radar. Flying at night, this black beauty is also invisible to the naked eye. Because it can't be detected, the F-117 can take its time on the attack, making it deadly accurate.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a USAF Lockheed F-117A Stealth Fighter-Bomber dubbed the "Stealth Hawk", celebrating the aircraft's formal retirement in 2008.
Release Date: February 2009
Historical Account: "Retirement Party" - Despite its productive combat service, the F-117 was designed with late 1970s technologies. Its stealth technology, while more advanced than that of any other aircraft except the B-2 Spirit, F-22 and F-35, is maintenance intensive. Furthermore, the facet-based stealth design has been surpassed by newer technology. Program Budget Decision 720 (PBD 720), dated 28 December 2005, proposed retiring the entire fleet by October 2008 to permit buying more F-22As. PBD 720 called for 10 aircraft to be retired in FY 2007 and the remaining 42 aircraft in FY 2008 and stated there were more capable Air Force assets that could provide low observable, precision penetrating weapons capability including the B-2, F-22 and JASSM. The Air Force originally planned to retire the F-117 in 2011. The Air Force later decided to retire the F-117 sooner to shift funds to modernizing the rest of the fleet. This would save an estimated $1.07 billion.
In late 2006, the Air Force closed the F-117 pilot school, and announced the retirement of the F-117. The first six aircraft to be retired made the last flight on March 12th, 2007, after a ceremony at Holloman AFB to commemorate the aircraft's career. Brigadier General David Goldfein, commander of the 49th Fighter Wing, said at the ceremony, "With the launch of these great aircraft today, the circle comes to a close - their service to our nation's defense fulfilled, their mission accomplished and a job well done. We send them today to their final resting place - a home they are intimately familiar with - their first, and only, home outside of Holloman."
Unlike most other Air Force aircraft which are retired to Davis-Monthan AFB, the F-117s are being retired to the Tonopah Test Range Airport. At Tonopah, their wings will be removed and the aircraft will be stored in their original hangars. On March 11th, 2008, it was reported that the last F-117s in service would touch down on April 22nd, 2008, in Tonopah Test Range Airfield in Nevada, the site of the F-117's first flight. The F-117 was retired during ceremonies at Palmdale and Tonopah on April 22nd, 2008. Four aircraft were kept flying beyond April by the 410th Flight Test Squadron at Palmdale for flight test. By the beginning of August, two were remaining, and the last F-117 left Palmdale to fly to Tonopah on August 11th, 2008.With the last aircraft leaving for retirement, the 410th was inactivated in a ceremony on August 1st, 2008.