Hobby Master HA5805 USAF Lockheed F-117A Stealth Fighter-Bomber - "Vega 31" "Operation Allied Force" 7th Fighter Squadron "Screamin Demons", Kosovo War, 1999 (1:72 Scale)
"The F-117 was the only airplane that the planners dared risk over downtown Baghdad."
- The United States Air Force
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.
When the Air Force first approached Lockheed with the stealth concept, Skunk Works Director Kelly Johnson proposed a rounded design. He believed smoothly blended shapes offered the best combination of speed and stealth. However, his assistant, Ben Rich, showed that faceted-angle surfaces would provide significant reduction in radar signature, and the necessary aerodynamic control could be provided with computer units. A May 1975 Skunk Works report, "Progress Report No. 2, High Stealth Conceptual Studies", showed the rounded concept that was rejected in favor of the flat-sided approach.
The resulting unusual design surprised and puzzled experienced pilots; a Royal Air Force pilot, who flew it as an exchange officer while it was still a secret project, stated that when he first saw a photograph of the F-117, he "promptly giggled and thought to [himself] 'this clearly can't fly'". Early stealth aircraft were designed with a focus on minimal radar cross-section (RCS) rather than aerodynamic performance. Highly-stealthy aircraft like the F-117 Nighthawk are aerodynamically unstable in all three aircraft principal axes and require constant flight corrections from a fly-by-wire (FBW) flight system to maintain controlled flight. It is shaped to deflect radar signals and is about the size of an F-15 Eagle.
The single-seat Nighthawk is powered by two non-afterburning General Electric F404 turbofan engines. It is air refuelable and features a V-tail. The maximum speed is 623 miles per hour (1,003 km/h) at high altitude, the max rate of climb is 2,820 feet (860 m) per minute, and service ceiling is 43,000 to 45,000 feet (13,000 to 14,000 m). The cockpit was quite spacious, with ergonomic displays and controls, but the field of view was somewhat obstructed with a large blind spot to the rear.
Pictured here is a spectacular 1:72 scale diecast replica of a F117A Nighthawk stealth fighter-bomber that was attached to the 7th Fighter Squadron "Screamin Demons", then participating in "Operation Allied Force", over Kosovo, during 1999.
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Release Date: September 2019
Historical Account: "Operation Allied Force" - The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) during the Kosovo War. The air strikes lasted from March 24th, 1999 to June 10th, 1999. The official NATO operation code name was Operation Allied Force; the United States called it "Operation Noble Anvil", while in Yugoslavia, the operation was incorrectly called "Merciful Angel", as a result of a misunderstanding or mis-translation. The bombings continued until an agreement was reached that led to the withdrawal of Yugoslav armed forces from Kosovo, and the establishment of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), a UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
The bloodshed, ethnic cleansing of thousands of Albanians driving them into neighboring countries, and the potential of it to destabilize the region provoked intervention by international organizations and agencies, such as the United Nations, NATO, and INGOs. NATO countries attempted to gain authorization from the United Nations Security Council for military action, but were opposed by China and Russia that indicated they would veto such a proposal. NATO launched a campaign without UN authorization, which it described as a humanitarian intervention. The FRY described the NATO campaign as an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign country that was in violation of international law because it did not have UN Security Council support.
The bombing killed between 489 and 528 civilians, and destroyed bridges, industrial plants, public buildings, private businesses, as well as barracks and military installations. In the days after the Yugoslav army withdrew, over 164,000 Serbs (around 75%)[not in citation given] and 24,000 Roma (around 85%) left Kosovo and many of the remaining civilians were victims of abuse. After Kosovo and other Yugoslav Wars, Serbia became home to the highest number of refugees and IDPs (including Kosovo Serbs) in Europe.
The NATO bombing marked the second major combat operation in its history, following the 1995 NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the first time that NATO had used military force without the approval of the UN Security Council.