Farewell, F-117

Four Lockheed Martin F-117s will takeoff at 10am today from Holloman AFB, New Mexico. They will land at Lockheed’s Skunk Works facility at Palmdale, California, for a brief ceremony. Later today, the four aircraft will be parked in recallable storage at the Tonopah test range, completing the retirement process for the world’s first stealth fighter fleet.
While we say goodbye, let’s remember the other key US Air Force systems that also face the retirement axe. In no particular order:
1. Last we heard, the penetrator variant of the AGM-86 cruise missile — the only long-range weapon to defeat deeply buried or hardened targets — is being retired after only five years of operational service.
2. The USAF first wanted to slash the Boeing B-52 fleet from 94 to 56 aircraft, but lately appear to be compromising at 76.
3. The USAF also has wanted to permanently park the Lockheed U-2 fleet, but Congress won’t let them until Northrop Grumman can deliver the RQ-4B Block 30/40 Global Hawk, which should include a signals intelligence payload.
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