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[410th FLTS F-117A.(LMSW)]

1974-Public Unveiling(1988)


DARPA issued requests to five aircraft manufacturers to study the an aircraft based on minimal RCS. The companies were General Dynamics, Northrop, McDonnell Douglas, Grumman, and Boeing.


May 5

Sketch of initial "Hopeless Diamond" design presented to Ben Rich.

September 14

A ten foot mockup of the "Hopeless Diamond" was tested against the original D-21 mockup. The "Hopeless Diamond" had a RCS of 1/1000th of that of the D-21 drone.


Northrop and Lockheed both won the first phase of the competition.


Both Northrop and Lockheed build 1/3 scale models and tested them in January 1976 at Gray Butte RCS Range in the Mojave Desert.



Darpa names Lockheed the winner of the competition and the contract to build two flying prototypes.


Construction of XST-1 (HB #1001) begins.

August 9

Aviation Week and Space Technology report that Lockheed was awarded a contract to build two aircraft. This was the XST aircraft under the code name "HAVE BLUE".


[Have Blue demonstrator with Lockheed engineer in cockpit at Area 51. (Lockheed Martin)]

November 16

XST-1 (HB #1001) is shipped to Groom Lake in a C-5.

December 1

XST-1 makes first flight


May 4

XST-1 destroyed in crash

July 20

XST-2 (HB #1002) makes first flight

November 1 (or 16)

Lockheed awarded contract for five FSD aircraft


July 11, 1979

XST-2 destroyed in crash about 35 miles from Groom Lake.

[F-117A #780 rolling down the production line. (Lockheed Martin)]

October, 1979

Construction of FSD-1 (#79-780) begins

[4450th TG Blood Patch. (Webmaster's Private Collection)]

October 15

4450th TG (A-unit) activated under Col. Robert A. Jackson. Pilot selection soon begins.



Airframe #779 (static test frame) construction begins.


The original date for the first flight as specified in November 1978. (Hence the tail number of 780 for FSD-1)



Ben Rich is awarded the Defense Department's Distinguished Service Medal in a secret ceremony in Defense Secretary Harold Brown's office.


FSD-1 is completed and airlifted to Groom Lake.

June 11

Lt. Col. Al Whitley's Q-unit set up shop at Tonopah. Col. Jerry Fleming's P-unit activated. The I-unit activated (based at Nellis, commanded by Major William C. Helper).

[YF-117A #780 during one if the first 10 flights. (Lockheed Martin)]

June 18

FSD-1 makes first flight.


Tenative approval for increased production from 20 to 89 aircraft granted. Final approval contingent on succesful RCS and avionics testing.

September 24

FSD-2 makes first flight

[YF-117A #780 photographed while in storage after retirement. (Lockheed Martin)]

October 21

FSD-1 flies it's 11th flight with new enlarged and lengthened tail fins.

December 18

FSD-3 makes first flight.


First night flight and first weapons drop of a BDU-33.

January 23

First RCS test sortie by Lt. Col Roger Moseley in #781 at Groom Lake.

February 27

First production aircraft (#80-785) delivered to Groom Lake.


Originally planned IOC date as specified in November 1978.

March 22

First F-117A night flight.

April 10

FSD-5 makes first flight.

April 17

First taxi test of first production aircraft (#80-785).

April 20

First production aircraft (#80-785) crashes during it's first flight.

April 26

USAF decides to reduce production to 57 production aircraft. (59 production airframes were eventually produced).

May 17

Move of 4450th TG from Groom Lake to Tonopah started.

July 7

FSD-4 makes first flight.

August 23

1st production F-117A #80-787 accepted.(3rd production F-117A produced). Ship #787 was used for Operational Test and Evaluation and was delivered to the Test Force.

September 2

4450th TG accepts the first operational F-117A, ship #80-786. (2nd production F-117A produced).

October 15

Whitley became the first operational TAC pilot and Bandit (Bandit #150) to fly the F-117A. Beginning of acceptance flight tests with the second production model F-117A #80-786.


In 1983 the move of the 4450th TG from Groom Lake to Tonopah was completed.

October 28

4450th TG acheives limited initial operational capability with the 10 aircraft on hand configured properly. (Note: 14 aircraft had been accepted by the USAF for operational use)


Casper Weinberger reportably scrubs 5-7 F-117A's within 45 minutes of takeoff from mission to respond to a terrorist car bomb attack that killed 183 marines in Lebanon.


FSD-3, #782 gets underside painted with the American flag for a F-117A test force change of command ceremony.


1983 saw the start of the mission computer upgrade/replacement; three Delco M362F computers are replaced by one IBM AP-102 computer. The 4450th also deploys A-7's to Kunsan AB in South Korea to test deployment procedures.

April 6

Aircraft #802 accepted. This aircraft was the first delivered with the Brooklyn Bridge wing strengthening modification.

June 20

Last aircraft of initial batch of 20 aircraft delivered (#82-804).

Late 1984

Navy evaluation of F-117A.



Airframe #777 (fatigue test frame) construction begins.

January 21

Airframe #779 (static test frame) stressed to failure.

September 25

FSD-2 losses it's left tail fin during a pull-up maneuver.


Casper Weinberger travels to the United Kingdom and briefs Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the F-117A


1986 saw the first F-117A achieves 10,000 flying hours and the first GBU-27 weapons tests.

April 15

F-117A's were eprotably scrubbed by Casper Weinberger from Operation EL DORADO CANYON against Libya with less then an hour until takeoff.

July 11

Aircraft #81-792 crashes killing Maj. Ross E. Mulhare.


[F-117A Bandit in WST. (Lockheed Martin)]


The F-117A Weapon Systems Trainer (WST) entered service at Nellis AFB. (The contract to build the simulator was awarded in August 1982.)

February 20

Airframe #777 (fatigue test frame) fatigue tests begin.


F-117A flight #10,000 completed.


15,000 total F-117A flight hours completed.

October 14

Aircraft #85-815 crashes killing Maj. Michael C. Stewart

October 20

A-7D trainer crashes in Indiana, killing nine on the ground

September 24

Airframe #777 (fatigue test frame) fatigue life completed.


1988 saw the first flight of an aircraft modified under Offensive Capability Improvement Program, which includes a fully revised cockpit and improved television monitors with digital moving map capability, and auto throttle. The GBU-27 was also certified for F-17A use.

[First photo released of the F-117A. (Lockheed Martin)]

November 8, 1988

Pentagon releases indistinct first photo of the FSD-1 to the public confirming the F-117A's existence.

September 8

Airframe #777 (fatigue test frame) fatigue life completed at 20,500 equivilant hours.

December 14, 1988

Squadron Leader Graham Wardell (RAF) becomes Bandit # 282, the first operational RAF F-117a pilot. (Graham Wardell died in an aircraft crash in 1999.)

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