"Second Wave to Baghdad"
by Stan Stokes
16" x 11 1/2" Lithograph Unframed
27" x 18" Giclee on Canvas Unframed
36" x 24" Giclee on Canvas Unframed
Signature Series Print only 225 Co-Signed By Col. Alton Whitley Cdr. 37th TFW - Desert Storm
16" x 11 1/2"Lithograph Unframed
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The F-117A was developed by the Lockheed Advanced Development Projects team, better known as the "Skunk Works." This was a top secret program, and the aircraft flew for several years before its existence was known to the public. Early work on the project began in 1977 with the development of two 60% scale aircraft. Under the code name "Have Blue" the two prototype scale aircraft were built in a matter of months at Lockheed's Burbank facility. The first test flight was made in early 1978 by Bill Park. The Have Blue aircraft proved undetectable by any airborne radar in existence other than that on an E-3 AWACS.
The F-117A was authorized into production in 1978. It is one of the most unique looking aircraft in the world because it was designed as a stealth aircraft. It is made of geometrically flat panes with sharply swept wings. The facing of the aircraft's fuselage results in the disbursement of much of the radar energy which strikes the F-117A. Radar absorbing materials are used throughout and the propulsion system was ingeniously designed to dramatically reduce the aircraft's infrared footprint. The F-117A is a fairly large bird for a single seat aircraft with its 65 ft length and 43 ft wingspan. It reportedly handles well with flight characteristics similar to other delta wing aircraft like the F-106.
The F-117A is capable of high subsonic flight (646 MPH) and has a range of approximately 1000 miles. The aircraft is equipped for aerial refueling. The F-117A is powered by two GE F404-F1D2 engines which are non-after burning versions of the engines used in the F/A-18. The bomb capacity is a total of 4,000 pounds.
Designed to operate as a covert aircraft providing surgical first strikes against heavily defended radar and communications centers the F-117A was put to the test during Operation Desert Storm. The 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, under the command of USAF Col. Alton C. Whitley, Jr., flew the first strike missions against Baghdad, hitting important communications and control centers, radar sites, and antiaircraft batteries. Utilizing laser guided 2,000 LB bombs, about thirty F-117As participated in the first night's attacks. Despite an enormous amount of anti-aircraft fire, the F-117As under Whitley's command carried out their missions flawlessly, and not a single aircraft was lost to enemy fire.
The Stealth fighters blinded the eyes and crushed the nerve centers of the Iraqi Air Forces during these missions, making it possible for other aircraft to carry out their missions with less likelihood of Iraqi opposition. A total of 1,271 sorties were flown by F-117As with a success rate of 80% during the war. One of the more impressive attacks was captured on film and showed a deep penetration laser guided bomb being guided through the top of an elevator shaft on the roof of the ten-story building which housed the Iraqi Air Forces headquarters. The bomb penetrated deep into the structure before detonating and blowing out all four walls of the structure. While the F-117A is no longer a secret weapon, its effectiveness may hopefully serve as a deterrent to future possible conflicts.
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