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Future Of The F-117 Stealth  
User currently offlineHamfist From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 614 posts, RR: 3
Posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5270 times:

Does anyone know what lies ahead for the USAF's Nighthawk fleet? Approaching 20 years in service and I haven't really heard much about it's use in our current campaign. Is it being utilized in Afghanistan?

I would like to think it is still a very capable aircraft and I'm reasonably certain most middle-eastern nations would never get as lucky as the Serbs when they managed to knock one down.

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLY744 From Canada, joined Feb 2001, 5536 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 5150 times:

AFAIK the F-117 hasn't been used in Afghanistan, and there's really no need to, probably better off without 'em. The Serbs seemed to have gotten more than lucky, they used their brains, while apparently some people in NATO underestimated them. The Yugo air-defense system is deffinetely more advanced than that of Iraq, for example. They operate some SA-11's, which were probably used to down the Nighthawk. They also operate a large amount of advanced SA-6's, as well as the good old stationary SA-2's and SA-3's, and a variety of smaller SAM's like the SA-7, SA-14, perhaps some SA-16's etc. Iraq, on the other hand, nowadays relies heavily on SA-2's and SA-3's, and smaller amounts of older SA-6's. Their shoulder-launched SA-16's were very succesful in the Gulf War, however. Also, Iraq is much bigger than Serbia, and it's terrain doesn't offer much cover for their military in general, and mobile SAM's in particular. Their command networks have also been targeted heavily in 1991, and although it wasn't as hurt as the planners probably hoped they would be, they are still not as strong as they were before the war.

IMO, the F-117 is a very capable a/c in very specific scenarios, but the current conflict demonstrates once again how limited it really is. It may be able to deliver a couple of 2000lb LGB's into a somewhat well defended target (I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be sending any F-117's anywhere close to areas covered by such modern air-defense systems as the SA-10/SA-12 [S-300/V] etc.), but what if it is engaged by a real fighter? The need to have a whole bunch of support systems (EA-6 jammers, CAP, SAM-suppresors, for example) that would ensure that this precious flying brick would survive in the modern battle field really make you wonder if you're not better off sending a few capable ground attack/fighter a/c like the F-15E to perform the same task, especially considering the fact that they could employ many other kinds of weapons.

The F-117 was certainly a necessary pioneer in the military aviation world, but with today's world of budget cuts, one has to wonder if the USAF isn't better off saving money by getting rid of the F-117's in favour of puting some money into other programs such as the F-22 (which will hopefuly produce the succesor for both the F-117 and the F-15E) F-35 etc.


LY744.



Pacifism only works if EVERYBODY practices it
User currently offlineKC10Boom From United States of America, joined May 2004, 62 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 5133 times:

From what I've seen, I doubt the F-117 was ever used in afghanistan except maybe the first day or so. Same way with the B-2's. The stealth hasn't been needed over there for quite a long time, and when you can send a couple F-15E's that can haul far more weapons, and be much more effective. It's easy to pass up the Stealth. In other words why drive a mercedes when the chevy can do more.


Why is it my best contacts are when no one else is looking!
User currently offlineCX747 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4466 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 5103 times:

I agree that the F-117 has not seen any combat over Afghanistan. There is really no need for the aircraft in that particular situation. Basically use the right tool for the job, and the right tools are the F-14, F-15E and F/A-18 in this situation. Look for the F-117 to play a big part in any future conflicts against Iraq or Iran.


"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
User currently offlineCV640 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 952 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 5101 times:

I know very little about the milatary, but the F117 was definitely not needed for the recent campaign. Why?n There were no real anti aircraft threats in terms of missles or guns. They had a few Stingers, but most were 10 to more years old, plus the bombers flew way too high for these to be effective. That plkus the F117 lacked the range and would have needed tankers to basically go all the way over, that to only carry a small bomb load. A B52 or B1 were much better suited for this. No real fighters or large SAMs to worry about,t hey could loiter over a target and drop bombs as targets presented themselves. Most of the lighter attack aircraft came from carriers, which could get much closer then any airbase was.

For the few heavily defended targets, cruise missles and drones could do the job better. If they were shot down, who cares. If a US plane was shot down, we'd have to hope to find the fligth crew fast, as I doubt the treatent they'd have gotten from the Taliban would have been humane, to say the least.

I'd believe the F117 has a future, yes it probably is tiem to get the replacement ready, as it is getting old. It doesn't carry that big of a weapons load either, so I'm sure its being looked into, whether a F22 attack versions, if they can afford it, or the new plane (the F35? I think is its name).


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13252 posts, RR: 77
Reply 5, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 5091 times:

Most likely the F-35 will replace it.


User currently offlineKC10Boom From United States of America, joined May 2004, 62 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 5088 times:

I gotta say that if it wasn't for tankers, no air force fighters (and bombers, unless it was a quick get in and get out maybe) would have gotten to afghanistan. Especially the -15E models. Those guys are real gas hogs when their loaded up with bombs! All the bombs they carry put out a huge drag penalty, not counting just carrying all that extra weight. In conparison, I'd say the F-15E's refueled two or three times as often than the F-16CJ's. And that was around 10K every time while the -16's would take 3 to 4K. Granted they've got another engine, but still.

Mike



Why is it my best contacts are when no one else is looking!
User currently offlineHamfist From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 614 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 5085 times:

The Yugo IADS system may be more advanced than Iraq's, but I still find it hard to believe Belgrade is any more dangerous to overfly than Baghdad. I think many people make the ASSUMPTION that the F-117 was actually shot down by a surface to air missile.

User currently offlineCX747 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4466 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 5051 times:

There were several things that went "wrong" when the F-117 was shot down. The jamming EA-6B Prowler was out of position and to far away to have any real effect, and the bombing route that the Stealth was using was exactly the same as several nights before. Those two situations led to a chain of events that climaxed with the pilot having to eject.

As for the F-15E being gas hogs, I don't doubt it. One has to remember though that they can carry more ordance than the F-16CG. In a normal configuration, the F-16CG will carry to fuel tanks, 2 500LGBs, along with 2 AIM 7s and 2 AIM 120s. A F-15E will carry 6 500lb LGB with the same air to air ordance. Thats why it was the one flying into Afghanistan and not the F-16.



"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
User currently offlineHamfist From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 614 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5052 times:

Respectfully...I'm not so sure the F-117 shootdown had anything to do with an error by an EA-6B. Unless, a Prowler is also used to counter other aircraft(I'm not as familiar with naval aircraft). The route, however, could have played a part. If the Yugo air force had some way of tracking previously flown routes, it could have led to a lucky MiG pilot being in the right place at the right time(or wrong time if you're driving the Nighthawk).

User currently offlineLY744 From Canada, joined Feb 2001, 5536 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5045 times:

The Serbs learned their lesson quickly, and grounded all a/c in order to protect them, they only lost 8 or so a/c (5 of them MiG-29's, AFAIK all with AIM-120's) in AA combat, all within the first few days (nights) of the attacks. What I'm getting at is that there most likely were no Yugo fighters anywhere near the site of the F-117 incident. Besides, with the superior air coverage NATO had with it's AWACS's, and the bunch of fighters that were undoubtably surrounding the Nighthawks any fighter would have been deffinetely detected if it was anywhere near the F-117. Also, keep in mind it would have to get pretty close to shoot at the Nighthawk, as it would be very difficult to launch long range weapons due to difficulty detecting the Nighthawk with radar and IR sensors.

LY744.



Pacifism only works if EVERYBODY practices it
User currently offlineHamfist From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 614 posts, RR: 3
Reply 11, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5042 times:

Having heard the story straight from the horse's mouth(i.e. the pilot), I'm reasonably certain that I know what happened. I was fortunate enough to sit in on an unclassified brief and hear the whole story.

User currently offlineCX747 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4466 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 5038 times:

Didn't know that you sat in at the briefing. Here is the info that I have. All flights over Bosnia had EA-6B Prowler coverage, even the F-117. The Prowler that was jamming for the F-117 was to far out that night to have 100% effectiveness. Also, the route that the F-117 was flying had been used several days earlier in a bombing run. It seems that a very lucky shoulder launched SAM got the F-117.


"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
User currently offlineLt-AWACS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5035 times:

first of all the CLASSIFIED briefing for this is a little different (and more indepth) than any we can have here. No unclassified discussion can get into all the factors and thats a fact (not trying to be an ass but it is true) Maybe we need a siprnet chat room anyway  Smile . AND Yes the prowlers being on station played a part, that is pretty much all that can be said about that in this forum.

Sidenote:
Oh and for the AWACS, the NATO jets had some problems in coverage and linkage with the British E-3 that was coming up at tthat time, and at two seperate points the JFACC (and many US pilots) basically begged for US AWACS (not trying to toot my own horn or anything but...) NATO's coverage was not 'super' we sent some jets up out of ONW to help with the situation.


User currently offlineHamfist From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 614 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5034 times:

Yes, I know what you are talking about. I'm certainly not trying to go into all the factors. I have read several things that I feel do fall into that classified domain, but I obviously don't want to tread that ground here either. I'm simply mentioning some of the things I heard the pilot say in a very informal, and certainly not classified, environment.

User currently offlineCX747 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4466 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5015 times:

What was the problem with the British E-3s? I thought that they were supposed to be more advanced than our own?


"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
User currently offlineLt-AWACS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5010 times:

It wasn't the British E-3 it was the NATO E-3 that had issues

and no the British E-3 is not more advanced than our own. We have more Consoles, a better PDS system, full RSIP, better software and better TADIL linkage via TADIL A and JTIDS.

THe only thing the British and French AWACS have better than ours is newer more powerful engines (which we don't really need) We have plenty of TF-33 Engines so we won't updgrade anytime soon. Same goes for hte Japanes SDF E-767 -we still have better capabilities and software even if they have newer platform but same RADAR.


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