First mention of F-117 designation in journals prior to disclosure of F-117's existence



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Message posted by Vahe Demirjian (Member since 04/28/2022) on March 17, 2023 at 13:58:19 PST:

On page 40 of the article titled "Is Lockheed Building A Super-Stealth Replacement for USAF's Mach 3 SR-71?" in a January 1988 issue of the magazine Armed Forces Journal International, F-117 is mentioned for the Nighthawk in contrast to most media outlets prior to 1988 referring to the aircraft as F-19 or alternately RF-19. Additionally, the inside title page for the book "Aurora: The Pentagonís Secret Hypersonic Spyplane" mentions a quote in an August 1987 letter from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force to Mr. R.W. Koch: "Our search disclosed no records, or knowledge of, a F-117 Night Hawk."

The August 1987 letter mentioning F-117 and the above-mentioned article in the January 1988 issue of the journal Armed Forces Journal International raise questions about whether the Nighthawk's true designation was deliberately or unintentionally leaked in a few print sources prior the USAF revealing the existence of the Nighthawk in November 1988, but the mention of F-117 on page 40 of the article "Is Lockheed Building A Super-Stealth Replacement for USAF's Mach 3 SR-71?" might have implicitly hinted that the F-117 would turn out to be more of a tactical strike aircraft rather than an air superiority fighter because the Advanced Tactical Fighter program initiated the same year as the F-117's first flight called for a stealthy supersonic fighter, and the designations YF-22 and YF-23 respectively assigned to the Lockheed and Northrop/McDonnell Douglas ATF designs selected for prototyping in late 1986 appeared in unclassified federal government documents published in 1986-1988 despite several aspects of the ATF program being classified.

Attached link: Aurora bibliography

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