End of the line for the F-117

F-117 Stealth Fighter to Be Retired

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, which manages the F-117 program, will have an informal, private retirement ceremony Tuesday with military leaders, base employees and representatives from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The last F-117s scheduled to fly will leave Holloman on April 21, stop in Palmdale, Calif., for another retirement ceremony, then arrive on April 22 at their final destination: Tonopah Test Range Airfield in Nevada, where the jet made its first flight in 1981.

I really expected Congress to keep the F-117 in service for quite a while yet for various reasons, but I can’t say that I’m too disappointed about this at this point.

It would be nice to get some work in for the F-22s, though.


  1. My friend and I were discussing this just yesterday, both of us dubious that the F-22 could do as good a job as the aircraft it was replacing. Specifically we were talking about the F-15, which lead to some quick research about the maximum bombload the F-22 can carry (thinking about the F-22 as a replacement both for the F-15 and the ‘Strike Eagle’ F-15E). I didn’t find any numbers for what can be carried internally. It looks like it can handle ~20,000lbs externally on it’s 4 removable wing hardpoints, though obviously this would do nasty things to its radar cross section, though I wonder if the F-22 carrying 20,000lbs externally wouldn’t still be more stealthy than a F-15E carrying a full bomb load (~15,000lbs). Even though the F-22 was, in all honesty, designed as an air-superiority fighter, there’s no reason it can’t tote around a load of JDAMs, and even is better at it because of supersonic release capability (and the extended range this gives the guided munitions). I have more faith in the F-22 to replace the various planes it is supposed to (F-15, F-16, F-117) than the JSF…there’s no way it’s going to replace the A-10.

  2. Yeah, I’ve made that suggestion before, too. Probably not worth the trouble, though, if the F-35 program can get JSFs to the IAF.

  3. Isnt the bomb payload of the F-22 the same? 2 bombs? If so, the F-22 will do the same job faster and cheaper (better aerodynamics, more fuel eficient)

  4. Vitor, yeah, but I think the F-22 can only carry two 1000lb bombs internally whereas the F-117 can carry two 2000lb bombs internally. I would think the B-2 would be taking over F-117 missions more than the F-22. A single B-2 could carry enough bombs to strike several targets, reducing the total number of sorties required. On the other hand, they’re a lot more expensive…

  5. Another thing that the F-22 has over the F-117 besides the speed and newer generation of stealth is the fact that along with it’s two 1,000lb JDAMs it can carry 2 AIM-9’s and 2 AIM-120’s. So after it’s strike mission it could stay in the area and provide cover for other aircraft.

  6. The F-117 is pretty nifty bird. Yes the F-22 can a lot of what a F-117 can do, but why? Does the F-22 have a lack of important missions? Deep unescorted strike missions while they can be done by a F-22, they should not be done by a F-22. The f-22 should be doing air dominance roles. In terms of absolute stealth, the F-117 most likely has the edge over the F-22. I am talking all aspect stealth including emissions and IR. Yes from head on the F-22 is a good deal better then the F-117, but there are other aspects and sensors. Oh by the way, the F-117 is nuclear capable and it can carry AIM-9’s, but yes, it would suck as a fighter.