Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk
Few aircraft have remained a secret as long as the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, often referred to as the 'stealth fighter', although it is essentially an attack aircraft. Being developed in the 1970s and becoming operational in the 1980s, it took until 1988 until its existence was confirmed.
To maximise the stealthiness the F-117 has an unusual shape, almost coming from a science fiction movie. It has multi-faceted flat panels on the side and top, while the underside is flat. The wings have a very high sweep angle, giving the aircraft a nearly triangular shape when viewed from below. Typical are the air intakes on top of the wings, next to the fuselage, with grids to shield the compressors from radar signals. The exhausts are long and narrow. At the rear is a V-tail or butterfly tail. The Nighhawk has single wheels on all gears.
Confusion possible with
Lockheed Have Blue
There are no aircraft similar in appearance to the F-117, except for this proof-of-concept aircraft with the code name 'Have Blue'. These two aircraft are smaller than the F-117, have a higher sweep angle, a single air intake and more importantly inward canted double stabilisers (so an inverted V-tail). (photo: USAF/WikiMedia)