Military Aviation

‘Two F-117s are participating in DACT missions with 144th FW F-15s,’ USAF says. And releases first official photos of Nighthawks deployment to Fresno.

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.

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.

An F-117 Nighthawk lands for the first time at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Sep. 13, 2021, to conduct training missions with the local Air National Guard unit. Top Image: An F-117 Nighthawk lands at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Sep. 15, 2021, after conducting a training mission with the local Air National Guard unit.

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.”

Two F-15C Eagles and an F-117 fly in formation over the skies of Fresno, Calif. before separating to land at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport Sep. 14, 2021.

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.”

F-117 Nighthawks are accompanied by F-15 Eagles on the flightline of the 144th Fighter Wing located at the Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif. Sep. 15, 2021. The F-117 Nighthawks are participating in dissimilar air combat training missions this week along with F-15 pilots from the 144th FW.

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.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-117A Nighthawk (Stealth) 49th OG, 8th FS “The Black Sheep Squadron”, HO/88-843, Holoman AFB, NM – 2008

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

This model is available to order from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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