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#16 Troy Molitor

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 06:12 PM

I'm no expert here on the F-117 but I recall reading somewhere that there might have been some dangerous compounds used in the fabrication process of these aircraft? Perhaps why they decided to scrap many airframes? The black radar absorbing coating was also somewhat harmful. I could be wrong as well. Some of the pictures provided above look to be of totally bare-tripped airframes?

I also recall the Austrailian Airforce buried their F-111 fleet after retirement for the same reasons mentioned above. The metal used in production were harmful to humans and the environment if left untreated and left to corrode outside. The government decided to bury the birds rather than store them somewhere outdoors. Just think for a second, in another 70 years they will become the F-111's of down under. Much like the Burma Spitfires. (Humor)

I've been in commercial Aviation my entire career. There are some pretty strange metal compounds used on the older aircraft. Case in point, the L-1011's had depleated uranium as a counterbalance weights on the elevator leading edge.. Once the protective coating wore off onthese weights, there were some pretty stringent deposal methods required in getting rid of the counterweights.. you just couldn't bin them!

Troy
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#17 Juggernut

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 09:10 PM

There are three primary reasons why the F-117A was retired (but some remain flying I've just read but for what reason, I have not read yet).  Apparently there were only 64 F-117A's built.  Not a lot of aircraft.  However, the primary reasons why they were retired are:

1. Cost of maintaining the fleet of aircraft was extremely high.

2. F-117A stealth technology has been superseded by the B-2, F-22 and F-35.

3. The F-117A cannot tote enough ordnance (it can only carry two weapons) to justify its continued use when delivery platforms like the B-2 (one) can do the same mission that would take multiple F-117A's to perform. 


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#18 John Irwin

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 11:45 PM

There are three primary reasons why the F-117A was retired (but some remain flying I've just read but for what reason, I have not read yet).  Apparently there were only 64 F-117A's built.  Not a lot of aircraft.  However, the primary reasons why they were retired are:

1. Cost of maintaining the fleet of aircraft was extremely high.

2. F-117A stealth technology has been superseded by the B-2, F-22 and F-35.

3. The F-117A cannot tote enough ordnance (it can only carry two weapons) to justify its continued use when delivery platforms like the B-2 (one) can do the same mission that would take multiple F-117A's to perform. 

Item 3 isn't correct.  If it was, we wouldn't be spending billions on F-35's.   

 

We won't know for a long time why the USAF opted to retire the -117.   Some speculate that it's LO was found to be compromised and it wouldn't be as effective anymore. Another thing that worked against it was that it was limited to VFR missions.  It couldn't deliver ordinance in poor weather, which limited it's utility quite a bit.  



#19 Juggernut

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 03:13 AM

Item 3 isn't correct.  If it was, we wouldn't be spending billions on F-35's.   

 

We won't know for a long time why the USAF opted to retire the -117.   Some speculate that it's LO was found to be compromised and it wouldn't be as effective anymore. Another thing that worked against it was that it was limited to VFR missions.  It couldn't deliver ordinance in poor weather, which limited it's utility quite a bit.  

 

Well, ya got  me there Skippy... it wasn't a reason for retiring the jet but I still believe that one B-2 can and does perform the same mission equivalent as several wobblin gobblins.  The F-22 was the reason the F-117 was retired according to  this link http://www.airforce-.../projects/f117/


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#20 f8fanatic

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 06:24 AM

This article might shed some light on the issue:

 

https://www.defenset...oon-fade-black/

 

It would appear that several have been seen flying in recent years, but the USAF is removing 4 of them from storage each year, starting this year, for demolition.  

 

I suspect, much like in many other situations, that the USAF retired these because it had something else to replace it with.  Ask yourself why the U-2 still flies missions today, even though it is now a 60 year old design.  It's still flying because there's no replacement for it that's yet in service.  The plan is to use the RQ-4 Global Hawk to replace the U-2, but that plan is behind schedule and there's a question of potential capability gap.  Some feel that the RQ-4 cannot do the job as well.

 

The F-35 claim is not a valid argument for this one, though, IMO.  F-35 is meant to be a tactical weapons system--multi-role, and despite its small size, it can still carry more weapons than an F-117 can.  Nighthawk can carry exactly two bombs.  That's it.  No defensive weaponry.  No room for expansion.  The F-35 has the ability to carry external weapons on 4 wing stations plus two additional stations near the wingtips, in addition to the 4 weapons it can carry internally.  The 117 was a strategic weapons system, designed for one thing and one thing only---to penetrate air defenses unseen and delivery "first night" strikes to critical targets.  F-35 cannot be compared to the 117 for so many reasons.  Technology for one....multi-role ability for another.  The 117 was designed to be used in a very specific way--and no other way.  Missions were planned so that the aircraft would arrive at a specific point in the airspace at an exact time, down to the second.  The mission planning was as much a reason for the success of the plane as the technology used in it.  When one was shot down, it was that precise planing that allowed this to happen....planners got comfortable flying the exact same route at a specific time, and the enemy learned the pattern.  F-117 did not allow any real mission flexibility.  Aircraft had to even retract a comms antenna when flying an operational mission to protect RCS.  So radio silence was key.  Once that antenna was retracted, the pilot was on his own and required to stick to the plan.  F-35 is so filled with technology not even dreamed of when the 117 was designed that its abilities at intelligence gathering and information sharing might turn out to be its greatest contribution.  If I had to guess, I'd say that the $$$ being used for the 117 program was thought to be of better use for new programs like the 35.  Add in the B-2's abilities, and the fact that we now even see B-1B's and B-52s using such things as Sniper pods, and you can see why the 117 has sort of become all dressed up for the ball, but without a date.  

 

F-35 can carry up to 6,000 pounds of bombs on external racks, plus some bombs internally, and still carry up to 4 A2A missiles at the same time as those 6,000 pounds of bombs.....

 

Let's also not forget that the 117 was designed with old stealth technology.  The B-2 for example is far more capable in this arena.  


Edited by f8fanatic, 23 November 2017 - 06:27 AM.

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#21 ScoobyDoo

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 11:39 PM

As opposed to spending taxpayer's money to keep un-needed aircraft in a semi-operational state?  Not sure I'm following you here.....
 
Also, I believe that a few -117's are still flying, for unknown reasons.  Sounds like that program will be ending shortly though.


Yes, a few have been flying.

#22 ScoobyDoo

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 11:41 PM

There are three primary reasons why the F-117A was retired (but some remain flying I've just read but for what reason, I have not read yet).  Apparently there were only 64 F-117A's built.  Not a lot of aircraft.  However, the primary reasons why they were retired are:
1. Cost of maintaining the fleet of aircraft was extremely high.
2. F-117A stealth technology has been superseded by the B-2, F-22 and F-35.
3. The F-117A cannot tote enough ordnance (it can only carry two weapons) to justify its continued use when delivery platforms like the B-2 (one) can do the same mission that would take multiple F-117A's to perform.


Correct on #3. Carrying a weapon was difficult with a full fuel load. Take-off was an issue too.

#23 ScoobyDoo

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 11:47 PM

I'm no expert here on the F-117 but I recall reading somewhere that there might have been some dangerous compounds used in the fabrication process of these aircraft? Perhaps why they decided to scrap many airframes? The black radar absorbing coating was also somewhat harmful. I could be wrong as well. Some of the pictures provided above look to be of totally bare-tripped airframes?
I also recall the Austrailian Airforce buried their F-111 fleet after retirement for the same reasons mentioned above. The metal used in production were harmful to humans and the environment if left untreated and left to corrode outside. The government decided to bury the birds rather than store them somewhere outdoors. Just think for a second, in another 70 years they will become the F-111's of down under. Much like the Burma Spitfires. (Humor)
I've been in commercial Aviation my entire career. There are some pretty strange metal compounds used on the older aircraft. Case in point, the L-1011's had depleated uranium as a counterbalance weights on the elevator leading edge.. Once the protective coating wore off onthese weights, there were some pretty stringent deposal methods required in getting rid of the counterweights.. you just couldn't bin them!
Troy


All modern aircraft have hazardous materials. Usually they are released during scrapping, damage, or fire.

I’m sure the F-117s were stripped because of the sensitive nature of the RAM coating. Not because of the hazards. F-117s and F-22s on display have been stripped.

The Australian F-111s were buried because it was cheaper than recycling.
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#24 Troy Molitor

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 03:43 PM

Hi Scoobydoo,

Not arguing here. I seriously appreciate all your comments above. A great topic for discussion too.

When referencing my comment on the Aussie F-111, my comment came from a former Aussie F-111 driver whom I've met and was demonstrating several Virgin Oz, B-737's that were coming back to me off lease. I recalled seeing pictures at the time, with bulldozers covering up several RAAF Aardvarks, and I knew he flew them in the RAAF. We were discussing the disposal methods and he specifically mentioned the hazards involved with the metals used and why the Government decided to bury them. Your comments likely also persuaded the Gov in that same final disposal direction.

Cheers,

Troy

#25 Maxim

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 09:50 PM

Hi Scoobydoo,

Not arguing here. I seriously appreciate all your comments above. A great topic for discussion too.

When referencing my comment on the Aussie F-111, my comment came from a former Aussie F-111 driver whom I've met and was demonstrating several Virgin Oz, B-737's that were coming back to me off lease. I recalled seeing pictures at the time, with bulldozers covering up several RAAF Aardvarks, and I knew he flew them in the RAAF. We were discussing the disposal methods and he specifically mentioned the hazards involved with the metals used and why the Government decided to bury them. Your comments likely also persuaded the Gov in that same final disposal direction.

Cheers,

Troy

 

Actually the RAAF fleet of F-111's were buried as requested by the US Government. The original deal with the DOD was that would be returned to the States once retired. The DOD didn't want then and the Australian Government were instructed to bury them. The aircraft do contain dangerous materials.


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#26 ScoobyDoo

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 12:00 AM

Actually the RAAF fleet of F-111's were buried as requested by the US Government. The original deal with the DOD was that would be returned to the States once retired. The DOD didn't want then and the Australian Government were instructed to bury them. The aircraft do contain dangerous materials.


Which is why it was cheaper to bury than recycle. Some of the composites of the F-111 would be hazardous if chopped or crushed.

All modern aircraft have hazardous materials in them. We are taught during our type courses what to be careful with. Damaged or burned areas can have detrimental effects on our health.




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