On Sep. 13, 2021 the 144th Fighter Wing welcomed the arrival of two F-117 Nighthawk aircraft to the Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, to conduct dissimilar air combat training (DACT) missions.
“Two F-117 Nighthawks are participating in dissimilar air combat training missions this week with the 144th FW,” the unit said on its Facebook page.
As we have previously explained, even though DACT is the most logical explanation for the F-117 Nighthawks’ arrival in Fresno, the US Air Force (USAF) had not yet confirmed the assertion.
But, as reported by Capt. Jason Sanchez, 144th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article 144th Fighter Wing Welcomes F-117 Nighthawks for Training, on Sep. 16 US Air Force (USAF) Col. Troy Havener, 144th Fighter Wing commander, said, “We have the distinct honor of being the first Air Force unit to host them for a full week of training,” referencing the Wing’s deliberate partnership building efforts and their demonstrated operational proficiency as critical to securing the training opportunity.
Over the next few days the 144th FW’s F-15 pilots will conduct multiple dissimilar air combat training missions with the F-117 pilots.
“This week we reap the benefits of two plus years of careful communication and determined coordination with agencies and leaders overseeing these unique USAF assets,” said Havener. “The training against integrated forces that include the F-117 will challenge and sharpen pilots, as well as build confidence in tactics and systems needed to defend our nation.”
Lt. Col. David Allamandola, 144th FW Advanced Programs Officer said, “Our Griffin pilots, operations, and maintainers, are thrilled to be able to participate in this unique opportunity. It is a very special privilege to do open air training missions with the F-117 Nighthawks.”
“This training offers incredible value for everyone involved and presents new challenges to test difficult tactics in a realistic environment. Not everyone gets to do this, so it’s been exciting creating the ground work with our partners to make this a reality,” said Allamandola. “The enthusiasm is contagious. We are incredibly thankful to our guests for their tireless efforts over an extended period of time to make this a reality. It’s been fantastic to see this plan come together.”
This is the first time that F-117 Nighthawks have landed in Fresno.
The F-117 is the world’s first operational stealth aircraft. The Nighthawk is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft. Only 64 were ever built and first flew in 1981. The US Air Force (USAF) “Retired” the fighter in 2008.
Although officially retired, many F-117s remain airworthy and are used to support limited research and training missions based on overall cost effectiveness and their ability to offer unique capabilities.
As of January 2021, the USAF has 48 F-117s remaining in its inventory, and is disposing of approximately four aircraft each year. As airframes are disposed, they are offered to museums though the USAF Strategic Basing program and the National Museum of the USAF.
Photo credit: Capt. Jason Sanchez / U.S. Air National Guard
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