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Posted: 12/8/2003 9:05:20 PM EDT
A Nighthawk in Raptor’s clothing
http://www2.acc.af.mil/accnews/dec03/03348.html
By Laura Pellegrino
Sunburst staff writer

12/08/2003 – HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (ACCNS) – It took 10 gallons of dark gray paint, five-and-a-half gallons of light gray paint and three gallons of silicon paint to give one F-117A Nighthawk here an F/A-22 Raptor-style makeover.

Lt. Col. Kevin Sullivan, Detachment 1, 53rd Test and Evaluation Group commander, asked the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron corrosion flight to paint their F-117, nicknamed “the Dragon,” gray to evaluate if it will have a substantial role in daytime combat operations.

“The chief of staff wants to have a 24-hour stealth presence over future battlefields,” said Lt. Col. Buck Rogers, the Det. 1, 53rd TEG operations officer. “We know our current black paint scheme wouldn’t be a good color for daytime operations.”

Preparation for painting began Nov. 17, said Staff Sgt. Armond Cornin, 49th AMXS corrosion flight NCOIC. AMXS members worked day and night to complete the job.

With the project complete, the jet will participate in upcoming tests as part of a program called Global Strike Task Force, Colonel Rogers said. The jet will fly with the F/A-22 in several tests both locally and deployed.

The Dragon is a test-coded aircraft owned by Det. 1, 53rd TEG.

“We use the Dragon for everything from new tactics development to the evaluation of new software or hardware,” said Maj. Tre Urso, a Det. 1, 53rd TEG pilot. “Det. 1 has been involved in all the F-117 modifications and upgrades over the years. Now, we want to evaluate the feasibility of using the F-117 during daylight operations.”

According to Colonel Rogers, Air Force leadership will approve additional jets for the gray scheme only if the test results show the change is warranted.

Whether or not the rest of the jets are painted, this project is worth the time and effort spent on completing it, Major Urso said.

“It provides a great opportunity for us to learn about our daytime capabilities and limitations. It also helps us evaluate how the new paints will hold up over time and lets us measure the impact the color modification has on the maintenance troops who maintain the jet. Bottom line, we need to make sure we provide our leaders an accurate assessment of the costs and benefits involved with daytime ops and the gray paint scheme.”


Staff Sgts. Armond Cornin and Casell Davis, and Airman 1st Class Louis Delgado, members of the 49th Maintenance Squadron, apply a layer of primer to the underbelly of an F-117 before it’s painted gray. The aircraft will participate in Global Strike Task Force tests aimed at determining the feasibility of using the F-117 during daytime operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Vanessa LaBoy.)
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 9:11:40 PM EDT
... and so the MARPAT fighter was born ...
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 9:24:22 PM EDT
Err.... I think the LAST place I'd want to be is in the cockpit of a 117 in daylight unless we're talking about having air dominance established. A sub sonic aircraft with NO defensive weapons over enemy territory in daylight? The IR and radar stuff might miss it but optically guided weapons and Triple A doesn't give a shit about stealth. That's the whole idea behind flying them at night. I'll pass.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 9:56:16 PM EDT
If I remember correctly the color of the plane was from the material on the exterior of it.. the material is radar-absorbing and the paint will lessen it's stealth abilities.. smart, guys.. smart.. how about you paint it with a big bullseye instead?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 10:22:48 PM EDT
Perhaps they have come up with various colors of paint that are capable of the same radar absorbent charactersitics as the typical black we are used to seeing.
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 3:52:15 AM EDT
Im an SP at Nellis AFB and I guard the F-117's when they come TDY here for RED FLAG and they have been flying 117's on day missions for like 2 years now. I was on the line when they did the first test of a daytime mission. The F-22 is also a stealth aircraft and its painted gray.
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 6:01:34 AM EDT
no way, not in daylight, never
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 6:06:44 AM EDT
Buck Rogers? Col. BUCK ROGERS? Man, I'd hate to be that guy...... [:D] As for the paint, I can assure you that the folks in the AF are sufficiently intelligent NOT to paint the plane with a paint that will affect its ability to be radar-stealthy. Even if they ARE a bunch of wing-wiping cloud-lice zoomies, they're not stupid, you know... [rolleyes]
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 4:09:20 PM EDT
Ahh... So now instead of saying cleared for takeoff, they can shorten it up a bit and just say... [b][red]PULL![/red][/b] The thing is that that plane will be a sitting duck unless it flies super-high (which lessens the accuracy of it's limited (2 weapon) payload. P.S. The difference between the F-117 and the F-22 WRT 'stealth & daylight' is that the F-22 was an interceptor (bombing capabilities added later, ala F-14) by design, the F-117 is a bomber by design. The F-22 has defensive/offensive systems as well as stealth. The F-117 has no such equipment, and must rely on stealth alone to survive. Finding an F-22 is just the start, next you have to keep the pilot from killing you long enough to get a shot off. Finding the F-117 = game over...
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 4:24:33 PM EDT
IIRC, the Lockheed originally wanted to paint the F-117 a bluish-gray color because in their opinion, that was the most stealthy/difficult to detect color available. Black is OK on a cloudless and moonless night, but black isn't so hot under a high overcast. That's how the Serbs detected and optically tracked the F-117 that they brought down. USAF didn't think that the bluish-gray color was "macho" enough and insisted on black. I wouldn't worry about AAA since I doubt that the F-117 would operate that low. The new paint scheme should reduce optical detectability in a wider range of visual conditions, day and night. As far as the source for the color dispute, I believe it was from the book "Skunk Works". Great book which detailed Lockheeds super secret factory in Burbank which developed the U-2, SR-71, and F-117.
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 4:32:52 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Dave_A: Ahh... So now instead of saying cleared for takeoff, they can shorten it up a bit and just say... [b][red]PULL![/red][/b]
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[lol][rofl2][lol]
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