For the last year, we’ve noted a series of reports (read: here & here) of (supposedly retired) Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft conducting combat training missions over the skies of California.
The latest sighting of the world’s first stealth aircraft, which first debuted in the early 1980s and retired in 2008, after the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter aircraft was first fielded, was in mid-September at the Fresno Air National Guard Base, California.
The US Air Force released a statement at the time stating “two F-117 Nighthawk aircraft” would be conducting “air combat training missions.”
This is the first time that F-117s have landed in Fresno. Their presence immediately received attention from aviation geeks who captured the planes operating in Fresno in never before seen 4k resolution video, according to The Aviationist.
The Pentagon appears to be bringing some of these legacy stealth aircraft back to active duty as tensions between the US and China continue to soar with Taiwan in focus.
Four decommissioned F-117s were secretly deployed to the Middle East in 2017 to launch surgical strikes. The reason for the deployment was simple; Russia and Syria had shut down Syrian airspace by mid-2016. The U.S.-led coalition was unwilling to lose a fifth-generation aircraft to Russia’s S-400 missile systems in Syria.
F-117’s stealthiness was questioned when it was shut down over Serbia in 1999 by a 50 year old soviet missile system.
As of January 2021, there were 48 F-117s in Type 1000 storage, meaning the planes could swiftly return to active service.