Last week an F-117 has taken part in Sentry Savannah exercise. Here’s an awesome 9-min video showing the stealth jet at work some 14 years after it was officially retired…
As already reported, an F-117 Nighthawk stealth jet deployed to Savannah Air National Guard Base, Georgia, to take part in Sentry Savannah, the Air National Guard’s premiere exercise held annually at the Air Dominance Center. Running from May 2 to 15, Sentry Savannah is the ANG’s largest fourth and fifth generation counter-air, large-force exercise that allows fighter units from across the country to train on integrated tactics such as ground training, offensive/defensive counter air missions, cruise missile defense and weapon drop training on the range.
Although several interesting assets have deployed to Savannah for the drills, the most intriguing platform that quite surprisingly made its way to Georgia for Sentry Savannah is one F-117 Nighthawk from Tonopah Test Range. The stealth jet, believed to be part of a unit known as the “Dark Knights”, has deployed to Georgia (and, to our knowledge, this is the first time the Stealth Jet deploys to the East Coast since it was officially retired in 2008…) to take part in the first week of the exercise.
The aircraft, registration 84-0828, sported the ‘TR’ tail code observed on the F-117s operating from Tonopah Test Range since 2020 along with a 40 years of operations logo on both tails that celebrates the 40th anniversary since the maiden flight that took place on Jun. 18, 1981 at Groom Lake, Nevada.
The emblem says: “40 years of owning the night”.
During its deployment to Georgia, the iconic Stealth Jet it flew two daily sorties. Here’s what we wrote about the flying activity of the “retired” F-117s in our previous story on Sentry Savannah:
As explained in various articles, while some of the F-117s that were retired in 2008 and initially kept in a “Type 1000” storage at Tonopah Test Range have now been disassembled and transferred to museums around the U.S., F-117s have continued to fly. We have reported sightings in 2018, in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. After all, the F-117s are not completely retired, quite the contrary.
As of January 2021, the U.S. Air Force had 48 F-117s remaining in its inventory. The service is disposing approximately four aircraft each year, meaning that +40 should still be available. The jets fly the adversary stealth role allowing U.S. squadrons to perform DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) against a LO (Low Observable) aggressor and are also believed to simulate radar-evading cruise missiles during various exercises The Nighthawks are most probably also involved in the development and testing of stealth or counter-stealth technologies and tactics, as some photographs showing at least one airframe sporting a mirror-like coating similar to the one applied to two F-22s (one that has appeared quite recently) and to an F-35, seem prove.
Few weeks ago, the iconic stealth jets have have teamed up with the U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35 Lightning IIs involved in the Lightning Carrier demo integrating with the F-35B Lightning II aircraft attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 operating from the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7). Previously, the Nighthawks had conducted DACT with the F-35Bs of the Marine fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 225 “Vikings” of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, U.S. Marine Corps, deployed to MCAS Miramar from MCAS Yuma.
Anyway, our friend Misael Ocasio Hernandez has produced a stunning +9-min video of the F-117 operations during Sentry Savannah.
Here it is. Enjoy!