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A Nighthawk in Raptor's clothing

  • Published
  • By Laura Pellegrino
  • 49th Fighter Wing Pubic Affairs
It took 10 gallons of dark gray paint, 5 1/2 gallons of light gray paint and 3 gallons of silicon paint to give one F-117A Nighthawk here an F/A-22 Raptor-style makeover.

Lt. Col. Kevin Sullivan, the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group’s Detachment 1 commander, asked the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron corrosion flight airmen to paint the detachment’s F-117 gray to evaluate whether it could 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, Det. 1 operations officer. "We know our current black paint scheme wouldn't be a good color for daytime operations."

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

"We use the (F-117) for everything from new tactics development to the evaluation of new software or hardware," said Maj. Tre Urso, a Det. 1 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."

Air Force leaders will approve additional jets for the gray scheme only if the test results show the change is warranted, Rogers said.

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

"It provides a great opportunity for us to learn about our daytime capabilities and limitations,” he said. “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." (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)