Nighthawk at a glance
March 27, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The F-117A "Nighthawk" fighter, which costs about $45 million per plane, is one of two aircraft that possess futuristic stealth technology engineered in the United States. The second is the $2 billion B-2 "Spirit" stealth bomber.
The F-117 is a subsonic, single-seat fighter bomber with an unrefueled range of about 650 miles and is primarily outfitted to drop two 2,000-pound laser- guided bombs.
All F-117s are based at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, and are assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing and under the control of the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.
Fewer than 60 of the planes are in the U.S. inventory.
Lockheed-Martin developed the planes in a top-secret program. The classified F-117 program started development and production in 1978 but was not shown to the public until November 1988.
The plane made its first combat run during U.S. action in Panama. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a fleet of 40 F-117s undertook 1,270 combat missions without losing a single plane.
The radar-resistant characteristics include absorbent and reflective materials and design features that assist in thwarting radar.
At least six F-117 "Nighthawk" stealth fighters have crashed, including one before an audience and television cameras in 1997 during an appearance at an air show in suburban Baltimore, Maryland.
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