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[4450th TG A-7D #235?. ()]


Because of the tight restrictions on F-117A flights during the 4450th TG "black"era, a surrogate aircraft was needed for training and practice and to provide a cover story for the 4450th TG's existance.

"Avionics Testing"

[4450th TG subdued Big-D patch worn by pilots. (Webmaster's private collection)] The aircraft chosen was the Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) A-7 Corairs II. The SLUFF (Short Little Ugly Fat Fellow) was chosen "because it demanded about the correct amount of pilot workload expected in the F-117A, was single seat, and therefore would bring all pilots to a common flight training base line, remembering we had pilots who had never flown single seat aircraft outside of solo flight in flight school" according to the late Gen. James S. Allen, who as a colonel became the 4450th's second commander in May 1982. For example, some of the F-117A pilots had F-4 or F-111 backgrounds. Therefore, upon selection to the 4450th, pilots were sent to the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd TFG for pilot convertion into the A-7D.

In addition to providing an excuse for the 4450th's existence and activities (the A-7's were nominally for "avionics testing"), they were also used to maintain pilot currency, particularly in the early stages when very few production F-117As were available. The pilots learned to fly chase on F-117A test and training flights, perform practice covert deployments, and practice any other purpose that could not be accomplished using F-117As. given the tight restrictions imposed on all F-117A operations.

Most of the aircraft themselves came from England AFB, Loisianna, were they were on their way to mothballs. There were approximatly 20 aircraft, including a couple of trainers. It is rumored that originally F-16s were desired, but the A-7s were cheaper, a more believable avionics testbed, and readily available. The 4450th TG was the last active USAF unit to fly the SLUFF.


Current Unit
Last Seen
A-7D 69-6198 written off 08 aug 85 Circumstances Unknown
A-7D 69-6207 crashed oct 20 87 Maj. Bruce Teagarden ejected safely
A-7D 69-6214 Consolidated jul 97 Storage?, ex AE0169
A-7D 69-6241 Weirton WV sep 00 Preserved?
A-7D 70-0934 HVF West Y. AZ may 98 Storage?, ex AE0082
A-7D 70-0969 written off Circumstances Unknown
A-7D 70-1019 Myrtle Beach apr 00 Preserved?
A-7D 70-1051 written off Possible error
354th TFS w/o 31jul75?


There were two twin seat A-7Ks assinged to the 4450th TG. These aircraft were commonly used for FTE to take data from during test flights

The Dragon Test Team used the A-7Ks to make sure that the test munitions seperated cleanly, and to follow the weapon down to impact for spotting purposes. Then Maj. Denny Larson was one of the Bandits that routinely flew these missions.

Current Unit
Last Seen
A-7K* 73-1008 HVF West Y. AZ jun 98 Storage?, ex AE0189
Nicknamed "Balls Eight"
Transfered to AMARC 1993-94
A-7K 79-0469 AMARC 1993-1996

* 1008 modified to protoype YA-7K. First flew Jan 1981

A-7 Operations

A-7 flight operations began in June 1981 concurrent with the very first YF-117A flights. The A-7's wore a unique "LV" tailcode (for Las Vegas) and were based officially at Nellis AFB. They were maintained by the 4450th Maintenance Squadron, based at Nellis. Some A-7s operated from Tonopah from the begining, and care was taken to leave them outside the hangers, so that prowling satellites could see that Tonopah operated nothing more exciting than some clapped-out Corsairs.

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