Once in a while a picture comes along that is worth a thousand words. Such is the case with these two images of an F-117 leaving the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
The pictures, courtesy of aviation photographer Santos Caceres, show the plane majestically flying up in the sky. The shots were taken around 3:40 pm on October 30th, 2020 and offer a clear view of the military aircraft.
Why is this so newsworthy? Well, because the F-117 was officially retired back in 2008 meaning it has been out of commission for 12 years. According to The Drive; however, the plane has become increasingly active in recent years.
The planes have been flying in support of naval group workups off the Southern California coast, in Miramar and alongside the 64th Aggressor Squadron. This is likely why they have returned to the Nellis base from the Nevada Test and Training Range.
The Drive contacted Air Combat Command last week about the F-117's visit to Miramar and received a very limited response. "The Air Force retired the F-117 from active service, but pilots from the Air Force Test Center still fly them for limited research activities," stated the reply.
The Drive further noted that the aircraft is unique enough that keeping it around longer in smaller numbers is a possibility. Right now several F-117s have been allocated for museums but around four dozen F-117s are still around either flying or kept in storage.
These last few non-museum F-117s are mandated to be destroyed. It is expected that this will be done at a rate of four per year. However, since that has not yet occurred it could be that the aircraft will still be available for support operations for a while longer. Long live the F-117!