Wing War­riors

Electric Flight - - PILOT REPORT -

F-117: The Nighthawk was the first op­er­a­tional air­craft to be de­signed around stealth tech­nol­ogy, and its test flight hap­pened in 1981. The air­plane was shrouded in se­crecy un­til it was re­vealed to the pub­lic in 1988. Widely pub­li­cized for its role in the Per­sian Gulf War of 1991, it was com­monly re­ferred to as the “Stealth Fighter,” al­though it was strictly an attack air­craft. The U.S. Air Force re­tired the F-117 in 2008, pri­mar­ily due to the op­er­a­tional abil­i­ties of the F-22 Rap­tor.

B-2: The B-2 Spirit, aka the “Stealth Bomber,” is an Amer­i­can heavy-pen­e­tra­tion strate­gic bomber. Low, ob­serv­able stealth tech­nol­ogy was im­ple­mented for pen­e­trat­ing dense an­ti­air­craft de­fenses. It is a fly­ing-wing de­sign with a crew of two. En­ter­ing ser­vice in 1997, it was the sec­ond air­craft de­signed to have ad­vanced stealth tech­nol­ogy. In Jan­uary 2017, two B-2s at­tacked an ISIS train­ing camp and to­gether re­port­edly dropped 108 500-pound pre­ci­sion JDAM (Joint Di­rect Attack Mu­ni­tion) bombs on the area.

X-47: The X-47B is a tail­less, jet-pow­ered, blended-wing-body un­manned com­bat aerial ve­hi­cle ca­pa­ble of semi-au­ton­o­mous op­er­a­tion and aerial re­fu­el­ing. The X-47B first flew in 2011 and, as of 2015, has suc­cess­fully per­formed a se­ries of land- and car­rier-based demon­stra­tions. In Au­gust 2014, the U.S. Navy an­nounced that it had in­te­grated the X-47B into car­rier op­er­a­tions along­side manned air­craft, and by May 2015, the air­craft’s pri­mary test pro­gram was de­clared com­plete.

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