While being disposed of, USAF's Nighthawk gets third or fourth life
With a Request For Information (RFI) published in September 2022, the USAF is now planning to keep some of its Lockheed F-117A Nighthawks flying for another decade. At the same time, more Nighthawks are being disposed off and are destined to become a museum piece or will act as a monument.
Back in March and April 2019, Scramble Magazine was the first with a news-item about the F-117 deployment in the Middle East years after they were taken out of service. As it turns out, this was the Nighthawk's second life. Also, more black stealthy Nighthawks were sighted in the open flying during daylight hours. From that moment, almost simultaneously, more former Tonopah Test Range (TTR) Airport (NV) stored F-117As found their way to US museums as a second or third life.
For now, regarding the USAF RFI that was published this past fall, a potential 10-year contract to provide F-117 maintenance & logistics support services have been asked. Apparently, the USAF still finds it so valuable that they want to continue using the F-117A. Earlier, Scramble Magazine wrote about the Nighthawk in combination with USAF's Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) aircraft in September and November 2020.
While starting their fourth life from the beginning of 2024, the aforementioned RFI about supporting limited Nighthawk flying operations at Tonopah in Nevada, support services should also include the demilitarising and declassifying of obsolete F-117As for museums. For the latter, the coming years a rate of two to three aircraft per year are expected.
According to the Scramble database, the following F-117A Nighthawks are, or are in the final stages of being, preserved at various locations:
79-10780, Heritage Park, Nellis AFB (NV)
79-10781, National Museum of the USAF in Dayton (OH)
79-10782, Heritage Park, Holloman AFB (NM), preserved as "85-0816"
79-10783, Air Force Flight Test Center Museum, Edwards AFB (CA), under restoration
80-0785, pole-mounted outside the Skunk Works facility at Plant 42 in Palmdale (CA). Hybrid airframe with fuselage from 80-0785
82-0799, Hill Aerospace Museum (UT)
82-0803, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley (CA)
84-0810, Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson (AZ)
85-0813, Castle Air Museum in Atwater (CA)
85-0817, Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum in Kalamazoo (MI)
85-0819, Destined for Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford (OK)
85-0831, Strategic Air Command (SAC) Aerospace Museum. Ashland (NE)
85-0833, Palm Springs Air Museum (CA)
Credit photos: UnderwaterAirPlanez (On Reddit), Strategic Air Command (SAC) Museum, Castle Air Museum and Hill Aerospace Museum