ERA: Jet age
Part of the Air Zoo Collection
Flight Discovery Center
In 1975 Lockheed developed a prototype for the Experimental Stealth Technology (XST) competition. Granted a contract to build from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Lockheed Skunk Works developed the aircraft under project “Have Blue.” The aircraft was quickly nicknamed the Hopeless Diamond due to the faceted appearance and non-aerodynamic shape. However, the odd shape achieved the goal of defeating radar. With a small cross section, a stealth aircraft was born. While given an F designation, the aircraft must not be mistaken for a fighter. Its highly complex control system required experienced fighter pilots to accomplish safe flight despite the aircrafts role as a tactical bomber
The F-117 on display at the Air Zoo
Nicknamed Shaba, the Arabic word for phantom, this F-117 is the first given to a non-military institution. As one of the Air Zoo’s combat veterans, our F-117 participated in operations Just Cause, Desert Storm, and Allied Force. Shaba took part in a total of 59 missions and logged 5,038.30 hours of total flight time before retiring from service.
Why Develop a Plane Like THIS?
As radar technologies advanced and became widely used, counter advancements were developed to defeat the growing technologies. Programs like Lockheed’s “Have Blue” began with a goal of making an aircraft invisible to Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SSAMs). A faceted shape and diffused exhaust minimized the F-117s radar cross section, producing a virtually undetectable stealth aircraft.