Spotted—F-117 Stealth Fighters in Nevada
Radar-evading jets reappear six years after their official retirement
The U.S. Air Force retired its F-117 stealth fighter in 2008—officially, that is. Since then there have been rumors and occasional sightings of some of the angular, radar-evading warplanes still flying at the military secretive base complex in Nevada.
And now new photographs prove that at least one F-117—possibly two—is still operational today.
A plane-spotter captured the images in this post at around 11:00 in the morning on Sept. 30 from Brainwash Butte, which looks over the Air Force’s Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. Although distorted by the high temperature and distance, they clearly show one of the 52 F-117s the flying branch supposedly retired six years ago.
The aircraft reportedly flew on both Sept. 29 and 30.
These photos are the latest evidence of the F-117’s survival. They might actually document two separate jets, since—according to the contributor—the plane that flew on Sept. 29 was in a different barn than the one that flew on Sept. 30.
Interestingly, the aircraft that flew on Sept. 29 used the radio call sign “Knight 12.”
It’s not clear why the Air Force has kept some F-117s in flying condition, after retiring the veteran jets and assigning their stealthy attack missions to B-2s and F-22s.
There are several possibilities. The most plausible is that the aircraft helps test some other technology, such as radar, infrared tracking, surface-to-air missiles, new fighter planes or drones.