First Stealth: Could the Legendary F-117 Still Go To War for America's Air Force?

Dave Majumdar

Dave Majumdar

Security,

Would the F-117 still be useful today?

First Stealth: Could the Legendary F-117 Still Go To War for America's Air Force?

But that’s the real advantage of the F-22 and F-35 over not only the F-117, but also the Russian PAK-FA and Chinese J-20 and J-31. The F-117 was entirely dependent on an autorouter to map out its course to avoid threats before each mission. Both the F-22 and the F-35 have the ability to map out threats in real time and are equipped with pilot vehicle interfaces that can make sense of that information for the pilot. In that respect, the Joint Strike Fighter is head and shoulders above the Raptor thanks to years of technological advancements.

With the U.S. Air Force considering the future makeup of its force structure, it is a good time to look at the evolution of stealth starting with the Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk. That aircraft was retired in 2008, but would the F-117 still be useful today?

The answer is that against most mid-range threats like Iran, absolutely. But against higher-end threats like Russia or China, not so much. Technology has advanced since engineers first dreamed up the F-117 “stealth fighter” concept.

(This first appeared several years ago.)

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