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[Proposed F-117X variant painting by Steven Moore .(LMSW)]


A derivative of and replacement for the F-117N, this proposed variant was submitted as a potential alternative to the joint advanced strike technology (JAST) aircraft (Now Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)). It was to be fitted with an afterburning F414 engine, LPI multimode (air-to-air and air-to-ground) radar, AIM-120 AMRAAM compatibility, expanded bomb bays (10,000 lb [4,536 kg] internal bomb load), provision for an 8,000 lb (3,629 kg) external bomb load (for "end of war" missions after an enemy's air defenses have been degraded) and three section spoilers forward of trailing edge flaps. The A/F-117X was proposed for a "silver bullet"-type strike force to augment F/A-18E/F Hornets. Lockheed hopeed to procure between 40 and 75 aircraft.

[Proposed F-117X with spoilers and flaps.(LMCO)]

--------------------------------------- Lockheed documents credit the A/F-117X with AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile capability. The pictures/diagrams show the AIM-9/AIM-120 rails on the interior sides of the A/F-117X's (fully bulged) bomb bay doors. Although it was not stated, it is implied that the F-117B also has these capabilities.



Shorty after Desert Storm offered the US Navy a minimally changed F-117A as the F-117N. (Reported in the September 13, 1993 Aviation Week, pg. 96) Inherent structural features of the F-117A fuselage enable it to be effectivly modified specifically for Navy use. The F-117A possesses three primary Navy characteristics not normally found in Air Force aircraft. These are: a full-depth center keel from nose gear to tail hook; three full-depth fuselage frames for wing carry through; and the main landing gear being attached directly to a major bulkhead.
Lockheed thought the Navy could use it like the Air Force uses it's F-117As-have a small strike force that's routinely deployed on board carriers that would be able to help beat down air defenses and leverage the conventional airplanes that are on the ship. Originally the plan was for 40 to 70 aircraft.
The Navy criticized that the F-117N was for a single mission aircraft for night operations. After the Pentagon rejected the F-117N in mid 1993, Lockheed went back to the drawing boards to modify the F-117N so that it met the requirements for the canceled A/F-X program and presented the A/F-117X in mid 1994.


For the A/F-117X Lockheed added an afterburning General Electric F414 engine, the same one that powers the F/A-18E/F. An elongated platypus section was added to accommodate the larger engines. The A/F-117X also had an advanced radar/infrared suite, which would have provided an all-weather air-to-ground and air-to-air-missile capability. The latter, with the added maneuvering capability provided by the afterburning engines, would turn the F-117 into more of a multi mission aircraft according to Lockheed officials. The A/F-117X met all of the A/F-X requirements except for the "carrier deck spotting factor".
The internal payload capacity was doubled-from the current 5,000 lbs. to 10,000 lbs. by enlarging the bomb bay. The keel was dropped 19 in. and the doors replaced creating a shallow, elongated bulge underneath the fuselage. The bulge added some drag, but did not adversely effect aerodynamics or stealthiness according to Lockheed. Two stores pylons were also added under each wing to allow for external carriage of an additional 8,000 lbs. of fuel or ordinance. Other features included a "very high resolution ground targeting radar, navigational forward looking infrared (FLIR) system, and an infrared search and track capability". (See World Air Power Journal #19, Winter 1994).

The fuselage and landing gear were further modified and strengthened for shipboard operations. The A/F-117X had a much-revised trapezoidal horizontal tail (to control the landing pattern approach angle and descent rate), with the horizontal stabilizers resembling those of the F-22. The A/F-117X included all the Navy standards-a carrier qualified arrestor hook, folding wings for deck storage, F-14 undercarriage, and twin nosewheels (possible F-18) with catapult tie bar.
The wing sweep was lessened to 42 degrees while the span was increased by 21.45 ft. The wing also featured double-slotted trailing edge flaps and three-section spoilers forward of flaps for improved low-speed approach handling characteristics.
The A/F-117X would feature access to equipment bays with "tail over water" and/or one engine running. Lockheed documents credit the A/F-117X with AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile capability. The pictures/diagrams show the AIM-9/AIM-120 rails on the interior sides of the A/F-117X's (fully bulged) bomb bay doors. Flyaway cost was estimated at 70 million per aircraft in 1994, based on a 250 aircraft production run.
In a push for modular production and alleged cost savings, Lockheed proposed that the US Navy and Air Force execute a joint program to build both the F-117B and A/F-117X.
The Senate Armed Services Committee earmarked $175 million to initiate a program definition phase and flying demonstrator of the new production aircraft.

A/F-117X (reconfigured F-117N) "Seahawk"

(Thank you Venik for the scans.)

In June 1994, F-117 Programs vice president (and later Skunk Works vice president) Paul Martin said that the F-117A+, F-117B, and A/F-117X proposals were being briefed in Washington. Says Martin, "We're not gold-plated, we keep our team lean, and we work with the customer to provide the production he wants. We're the experts on low-rate production."

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