New Photos of the F-117 Black Jet flying over Tonopah Test Range in 2014

Oct 08 2014 - 8 Comments

Some new photos, taken few months ago, show the F-117 stealth fighter jet flying over Tonopah Test Range.

As explained in a previous post, the F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack plane, officially retired in 2008, is still flying at Tonopah Test Range, in Nevada, 6 years after the aircraft made its last flight with the U.S. Air Force.

At least a couple of “Black Jets” were sighted and photographed by local aviation enthusiasts and spotters during flights conducted over the TTR.


The reason for these flights is unknown: it may be used to support test and development of new radar or Infra Red Search and Track systems, SAM (surface to air missiles) batteries, 6th generation combat planes, next generation AEW (Airborne Early Warning) platforms or UAVs (unmanned Aerial Vehicles).

There is someone who speculate they are part of a secret USAF’s strike force reserve.

Anyway, the images in this post, taken mid-April 2014 from atop Brainwash Butte near TTR by Foster Van Schaick (who has explored Area 51 and its surroundings several times) prove that someone (not sure whether Lockheed Martin, another company, or the Air Force) has not only preserved the F-117, but it is still flying the first and most famous American stealth aircraft.

Click on the images to open the hi-rez version. EXIF data is available.


Image credit: Foster Van Schaick


  • Daryl Niewald

    Nice to see it in the air still!

  • McPosterdoor

    “There is someone who speculate they are part of a secret USAF’s strike force reserve.” Yes and some that speculate aliens. I’m not sure the U.S. is in a position to need a ‘strike force reserve’ of f117. The regular force is well suited on multiple and varied levels of first strike capability. I would suggest looking into the future, not the past, x37 is a good example.

    Why the blast from the past in this case? Exactly what you mention, testing U.S. countermeasures/detection to first gen stealth since U.S. near peer adversaries are bringing those platform on board.

    • Perry Cucinotta

      Clearly its still flying, so why then? For fun?!?

      • Mr. Denali

        Probably test flights for new equipment.

      • McPosterdoor

        Well it looks pretty fun, but as Mr. Cenciotti surmises, probably using for testing U.S. countermeasures/detection against first gen stealth.

  • Mike

    Was there a consensus that those two photos of black planes were actually 6th Generation ( and not just some new drones?

  • Alex DeFazio

    Being there is a lot of work being done by the Dept. of Energy at the TTR, could be in connection with their work.

  • Thomas

    They are kept in what is called type 1000 storage,so they can be ready to fly when needed.