In February 1959, the Navy awarded Lockheed a contract to develop a replacement for the aging P2V Neptune. The P3V Orion, derived from Lockheed's successful L188 Electra airliner, entered the inventory in July 1962, and more than 30 years later it remains the Navy's sole land-based antisubmarine warfare aircraft. It has gone through one designation change (P3V to P-3) and three major models: P-3A, P-3B, and P-3C, the latter being the only one now in active service. The last Navy P-3 came off the production line at the Lockheed plant in April 1990. The P-3C is a land-based, long-range, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft. It has advanced submarine detection sensors such as directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment. The avionics system is integrated by a general purpose digital computer that supports all of the tactical displays, monitors and automatically launches ordnance and provides flight information to the pilots. In addition, the system coordinates navigation information and accepts sensor data inputs for tactical display and storage. The P-3C can carry a mixed payload of weapons internally and on wing pylons. The last Navy P-3 came off the production line at the Lockheed plant in April 1990.
The Lockheed Ventura is a twin engine patrol bomber designated PV-1 by the United States Navy (US Navy). The bomber was also used by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), which designated it the Lockheed B-34 (Lexington) and B-37. The Ventura was a medium bomber of World War II, used by United States and British Commonwealth forces in several guises, including antishipping and antisubmarine search and attack.
The Ventura was developed from the Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar transport, as a replacement for the Lockheed Hudson bombers then in service with the Royal Air Force. After USAAF monopolization of land-based bombers was removed, the US Navy ordered a revised design which entered service as the PV-2 Harpoon for anti-submarine work.
The Lockheed S-3 Viking is a United States Navy jet aircraft used to hunt and destroy enemy submarines and provide surveillance of surface shipping. The S-3B version can be fitted with buddy stores, external fuel tanks that refuel other aircraft, to act as an airborne tanker. The ES-3A electronic reconnaissance version was fitted for electronic warfare and reconnaissance. Because of the high-pitched sound of the aircraft's engines, it is nicknamed the "Hoover" (after the vacuum cleaner).
The S-3A Viking replaced the piston-engined Grumman S-2 Tracker and entered fleet service in 1974. The S-3 is a carrier-based, subsonic, all-weather, long-range, multi-mission aircraft. It operates primarily with carrier battle groups in anti-submarine warfare roles. It carries automated weapon systems and is capable of extended missions with in-flight refueling.The last production S-3A was delivered in August 1978. The inventory includes S-3As and S-3Bs. Sixteen S-3As were converted to ES-3 Shadows for carrier-based electronic reconnaissance (ELINT) duties. A few units were also converted for utility and limited cargo duty, known as the US-3B, all of which were retired by 1998. Plans were also made to develop the KS-3A version out of the basic airframe, a carrier-based tanker aircraft to replace the retired KA-6 but these were ultimately canceled.
On May 1, 2003, US President George W. Bush rode in the co-pilot seat of a Viking that landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, where he delivered his "Mission Accomplished" speech announcing the end of major combat in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. That Navy flight is the only one to use the call sign "Navy One". Since the submarine threat has been perceived as reduced Vikings have had their antisubmarine warfare equipment removed and are now used primarily for sea and ground attack, sea surface search, over the horizon targeting, and aircraft refueling. As a result, crews are now usually limited to two people, but three people crews are not unusual with certain missions. Navy plans called for the retirement of all Vikings by 2009.
Lockheed's G. L. "Kelly" Johnson has designed some really exciting aircraft, but the company's Model 83 (which originated in late 1952) must qualify as outstanding when the state of the art at that time is taken into account. Lockheed were aware that USAF experience in Korea had shown the need for an air-superiority fighter able to operate from forward airfields and climb rapidly from the ground to engage in high-level combat. The Model 83 was designed to fulfill these roles, and in formulating his design "Kelly" Johnson attempted to keep it as cheap, small and readily maintainable as possible. Tendered to the USAF as an unsolicited proposal, it was necessary for competitive bids to be received and the USAF notified a formal requirement for such an aircraft in late 1952.
Submissions were received from North American and Republic; but as both of these companies were already heavily involved in fighter development and production, Lockheed's proposal was selected cautiously: two XF-104 prototypes being ordered for development and testing. The first of these flew on 28 February 1954, followed by test and evaluation aircraft. It was not until 26 January 1958 that the first production F-104A began to enter service - as interceptors - with Air Defense Command's 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron. These production aircraft appeared quite revolutionary to those seeing them for the first time: with but a token monoplane wing mid-set on the fuselage - this latter assembly wrapped tightly round a powerful turbojet engine - needle-nosed and T-tailed. Able to demonstrate a level speed of around 2,250km/h and to climb to a height of 25km in about 4.5 minutes, it is not surprising that the Press dubbed the Starfighter the "missile with a man in it". F-104A (170) and multi-mission F-104G (77) served with the USAF, as well as F-104B (26) and F-104D (21) two-seat operational-trainer counterparts of the A and C respectively. Major construction, however, was in Europe: following development by Lockheed of the multi-mission F-104G, more than 1,000 came from production lines in Belgium, Germany, Holland and Italy to equip the air forces of those nations. Similar versions were built under license in Canada and Japan. Lockheed also built 179 F-104G for export or for supply to friendly nations through the Military Assistance Program.
Final production line was that of Aeritalia SpA in Turin, Italy which built 205 Starfighters for the Italian Air Force and 40 for Turkey. These multi-role combat aircraft have the designation F-104S and have extended production of this out-standing (and sometimes controversial) aircraft for a period of 20 years.
The C-121A versions differed from the L-749 only through having a reinforced floor to handle cargo, and a large aft loading door. Although originally intended for cargo transport duties, they were usually fitted out with 44-seat passenger transport interiors. The aircraft also consisted of a five-man crew with four relief crew members on standby. All C-121As were assigned to the Atlantic division of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). The aircraft would later see service in the Berlin Airlift. Dwight Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur both used the C-121A as their personal VIP transports. In 1950, six of the C-121A Constellations were modified as VIP transports and redesignated VC-121A. The last C-121As were retired in 1968.
The P-38 was the only American fighter built before World War II to be still in production on V-J Day. Developed through many successively improved versions, the Lightning was used in all US combat zones as a high- and low-altitude fighter, fighter escort, bomber, photographic-reconnaissance aircraft, low-level attack and rocket fighter, and smoke-screen layer. The first aircraft developed from the start as a military type by Lockheed, the P-38 was designed to meet an Air Corps specification issued in 1936. The XP-38 prototype flew for the first time on 27 January 1939 and the first YP-38 service-evaluation aircraft was delivered to the USAAF in March 1941. The P-38L was the last fighter version to see combat service, which took in the final stages of the Pacific War. A total of 10'000 were built.
Development of the U-2 began in the spring of 1954 to meet a joint CIA/USAF requirement for a high-altitude strategic reconnaissance and special-purpose research aircraft. It took place in the Lockheed 'Skunk Works' at Burbank, California, where - after acceptance of the design in late 1954 - two prototypes were hand-built in great secrecy by a small team of engineers. The aircraft's true purpose was cloaked under the USAF U-for-Utility designation U-2, and the first flight took place on or about 1 August 1955.
At about the same time US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was proposing his 'Open Skies' policy, one of mutual East/West aerial reconnaissance of territories. President Eisenhower hoped that his policy would reduce tension between East and West, thus preventing the growth of the nuclear arms race. Unfortunately the Soviet Union would have nothing to do with this proposal. Consequently 'Kelly' Johnson's new 'spy plane' assumed greater importance. The prototypes were followed by production of about 48 single-seat U-2A and U-2B with differing power plant, and five two-seat U-2D. Some U-2B were converted later to U-2D standard. An additional batch of 12 U-2R was ordered in 1967. The requirement for high altitude and long range posed enormous problems: the former needed an aircraft with low wing loading, the latter large quantities of heavy fuel to confer the necessary range. Therefore the U-2 is of very lightweight construction, dispensing with conventional landing gear and pressurization to save extra weight, and having wings of large area. Landing gear is of bicycle type with single wheels fore and aft, and balanced on the ground by wing-tip 'pogos' - a strut and wheel device which drops away when the U-2 becomes airborne - was selected. The pilot is accommodated on a light-weight seat, dressed in a semi-pressure suit with his head enclosed in an astronaut-type helmet, and forced to breathe pure oxygen for his survival. A medium-powered turbojet is adequate to lift this lightweight aircraft, and long range is possible by shutting it down and gliding for long periods.
In addition to photo and electronic reconnaissance, U-2 were used for weather reconnaissance, high-altitude research, measurement of radiation levels, and for the tracking and recovery of space capsules. They were used for reconnaissance during the Cuban crisis, in Vietnam and during the israeli-arab conflict.
The first prototype 61-2775 flew on 17 December 1963, the 60th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight. The first C-141A, delivered to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma in October 1964, began squadron operations with the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) in April 1965. Starlifters made flights almost daily to Southeast Asia, carrying troops, equipment and supplies, and returning patients to U.S. hospitals. The last C-141A 67-0166 was delivered in February 1968. Drawing heavily on experience with the smaller C-130 Hercules, the Starlifter featured a fuselage of similar cross-section, a rear ramp and loading assembly with two large clamshell doors that could be opened in flight for airdrops, rear paratroop doors on both sides, and landing gear housed in external fairings.A high-set wing, swept 25 degrees, was adopted for high-speed cruise, with powerful flaps provided for good low-speed field performance. The aircraft also featured a T-tail, four underwing TF33 turbofan engines, and integral wing fuel tanks. During the 1970s, the entire fleet of 270 aircraft (minus the four NC-141A aircraft used as aerial testbeds) were returned to Lockheed for modification.
The Lockheed R6V Constitution began as a proposal to Pan Am for an airliner with greater range and passenger capacity than the Lockheed L-049 Constellation. Development continued during World War II under the lead of the Navy, which ordered two prototypes as R6Os. By the end of the war, Pan Am had decided that the Constitution and the Convair 37 were too big. The first flight of the XR6O-1 Constitution, BuNo 85163 was flown from Burbank to Muroc Army Air Base on November 9, 1946. The second XR6O-1, BuNo 85164 flew in June 1948. The two Constitutions served initially with VR-44 at NAS Alameda, California. When VR-44 was disestablished in 1950, the Constitutions were transferred to VR-5 at NAS Moffett.
The Lockheed Constellation series of aircraft was a successful design that initially began as a militarized transport, appearing in limited numbers towards the end of World War 2, that gained more fame in the civilian transport airliner role soon after. The system was based on the military concept of long-range transport and refined design, incorporating various elements into the fold that would produce one of Lockheed's most memorable models. Initial models were flown as early as 1943 though the end of the war saw just 22 examples delivered for military use. It must be said that the Constellation's performance was up to expectations, the plane reached a speed of 347mph... the same as the best fighters of the period. An order for 150 C-69C given by the USAF at the beginning of 1945 was canceled with the end of the war in the Pacific in September of the same year. At their height the orders had reached 260 Connies, a figure which was reduced first to 73 before in the end the supply contracts were all canceled. In all 22 examples of C-69 were made for the USAF in two batches; the last seven aircraft were directly sold to civilian operators.
Lockheed's P-80 Shooting Star has its own special niche in USAAF/USAF history. From it evolved a lengthened-fuselage two-seat trainer version, designated originally TF-80C. The first of these flew on 22 March 1948. In addition to the fuselage 'stretch', a second cockpit in tandem was provided with dual controls, the transparent canopy was extended to cover both cockpits and the armament of the F-80 was deleted. A total of 128 TF-80C were built before the designation was changed to T-33A in May 1949. Adopted as the USAF's standard jet trainer, it remained in production for a further ten years. A total of 649 were also built for service with the US Navy and Marine Corps under the designation TV-2, later T-33B. Total production amounted to 5,691 aircraft (including those for the Navy): 1,058 for supply to friendly nations under the Military Assistance Program and the balance to the USAF. T-33A were also license-built in Canada (656 as the Silver Star, with Rolls-Royce Nene engine) and Japan (210). Variants included small numbers modified as DT-33A drone directors and AT-33A armed close-support aircraft. The last user was the Bolivian Air Force until 2017.
The P-2V operated as a land-based patrol bomber in the 1940s by the U.S. Navy and was the predecessor to the P3. The P-2V is known for its versatility and long flight range of up to 2,000 miles. The Lockheed Neptune served as a search and reconnaissance patrol plane, its presence heralding the ultimate demise of the traditional flying boat in that role. Powered by two Wright R-3350 engines, the Neptune had a remarkable range and carried a wide variety of ordnance. The Neptune enjoys the distinction of being the only designed-for-the-purpose, land based patrol plane to see wide, general Navy service. All others to see general Navy service, including today's P-3s, were derived from other types designed for other purposes. The Neptune traces its origins to Lockheed/Vega design studies starting in 1941 when the Navy first acquired land-based patrol aircraft. First flight of the initial XP2V-1 occurred on 12 May 1945. For the following 17 years, Lockheed's flight line was never without new P2V/P-2 aircraft. Powered by two 2,300-hp Wright R-3350 engines, and featuring nose, dorsal and tail turrets, the XP2V-1 featured clean lines that were to continue throughout the P2V series, even though the aircraft was to grow all manner of electronic and other bumps, and the armament changed regularly. The -1s were followed by -2s with longer noses and no nose turrets, and subsequent -3s with improved engines. Both these models had variants, initiating a practice that continued throughout the P2V/P-2 series, which continued in the P-3s. With the -7, the P2V reached its ultimate design. Westinghouse J-34s in wing pods added needed power, a MAD boom replaced the tail turret, nose armament was eliminated, and the pilot's cabin redesigned. By the time the last of 1,036 Neptunes were delivered in 1962. By the mid-Seventies the P-2s were being rapidly phased out.
The Jetstar originated as a private project within Lockheed, with an eye to winning a USAF requirement that was later dropped due to budget cuts. Lockheed decided to continue the project on their own for the business market. The first two prototypes were equipped with two Bristol Siddeley Orpheus engines, the first of these flying on 4 September 1957. Lockheed attempted to arrange a contract to produce the Orpheus locally in the US, but when these negotiations failed they re-engined the second prototype, N329K, with four P&W JT12 in 1959. The JT12 fit proved successful and was selected for the production versions, the first of which flew in mid 1960.These versions entered commercial service in 1961. Sixteen Jetstars were produced for the USAF Five C-140A Flight Inspection aircraft to perform airborne testing of airport navigational aids in 1962. They began service during the Vietnam War and remained in service until the early 1990s. The "Flight Check" C-140A were a combat-coded aircraft that could be distinguished from the VIP transport version by their distinctive camouflage paint scheme. The last C-140A to be retired was placed on static display at Scott AFB, Illinois, to honor its distinguished service. In addition 11 airframes were designated C-140B, although the first of these predated the C-140As when it was delivered in 1961. The C-140Bs were used to transport personnel by the Military Airlift Command. Six of the aircraft were operated as VIP transports by the 89th Military Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington DC. These VIP aircraft were designated as VC-140Bs. The VIP transport fleet occasionally served as Aircraft One during the 1970s and 1980s. Several other countries have used military Jetstars as transports for their VIP persons. Noise regulations in the US and high fuel consumption led to the development of the 731 Jetstar, a modification program which added new Garrett AirResearch TFE731 Turbofan engines and redesigned external fuel tanks to original Jetstars. The 731 Jetstar modification program was so successful that Lockheed produced 40 new Jetstars, designated the Jetstar II, from 1976 through 1979. The Jetstar IIs were factory new aircraft with the turbofan engines and revised external fuel tanks. Both 731 Jetstars and Jetstar IIs have greatly increased range, reduced noise, and better runway performance compared to the original Jetstars. Jetstar production totaled 204 aircraft by final delivery in 1978.
The first plane from the L-l049 Super Constellation family to be ordered officially by the USAF was the RC-121C but contrary to appearances, these were not specific aircraft but R7V-1/WV-2s originally intended for the Navy which were part of the contract it signed with Lockheed but were transferred to the USAF during production and to which it gave the designation RC-121D Airborne Early Warning (AEW), an updated version of the RC-121C, with wingtip tanks, additional internal fuel capacity and a crew of 31 personnel. Engines were 3,400hp Wright Cyclone R-3350 75DA1 Turbo Compounds..
The US Navy which had bought two examples of the WV-1 was based on the L-749 at the end of the forties, considered that the experience was conclusive after using these machines to test new combat tactics. Confronted with the new situation caused by the Korean War, it decided to put to best advantage the advances made by the L-1049 being developed at the time at Burbank in order to obtain a tailor made machine with even better performances. The Wright Turbo Compound was recently available and was an economical power plant, particularly at low altitude, and also had the advantage of being used on another type in the Navy's arsenal, the P2V Neptune. Using the same power plants enabled maintenance and spare parts inventory to be facilitated in the future. With this in mind, the US Navy signed a first contract with Lockheed on 14 July 1950, a little more than a year after the first flight of the PO-1W. This was for the delivery of six Connies based on the L-l049A and designated PO-2W, later changed to WV-2 before the plane was even put in service. The first order was followed by further orders so that all in all 142 'Warning Stars' were supplied to the US Navy.
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon seems likely to be the most important fighter in the West for the last century. Yet it took to the air for the first time by accident. On 20 January 1974, pilot Phil Oestricher was having difficulty in taxi trials of the first YF-16 at Edwards AFB and, rather than make an abrupt and risky halt, took off and flew the aircraft for six minutes. Designed in 1971 for the USAF's lightweight fighter competition (LWF), the two YF-16 prototypes won out over the Northrop YF-17 in a fly-off contest. If not as lightweight as once envisaged, grossing the scales at 16057kg, the F-16A production fighter and its two-seat F-16B derivative clearly had great stretching potential for future development. On 7 June 1975, in what was called the 'deal of the century', it was announced that the F-16 had been chosen by Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway to re-equip their air forces. Though these NATO air arms were always seen as the prime customers for the type, subsequent foreign purchasers have included Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, South Korea, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela. First deliveries to the USAF reached the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah, on 6 January 1979 and its first overseas unit, the 8th TFW at Kunsan AB, South Korea, on 1 November 1980. The first USAF unit in Europe to re-equip with Fighting Falcons was the 50th TFW at Hahn.
Characterized by a pointed nose and low-slung inlet for its 10814kg afterburning thrust Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 turbofan, the F-16 has swept wings which are blended into the fuselage, saving weight, increasing lift at high angles of attack and reducing drag in the transonic speed range. Movable leading-and trailing-edge flaps, controlled automatically by the aircraft's speed and attitude, enable the wing to assume an optimum configuration for lift under all conditions of flight. All flying controls are operated by a 'fly-by-wire' electronic system.
Variants of the Fighting Falcon include the F-16/79, a company-financed F-16 powered by a lower-cost 8165kg thrust General Electric J79-GE-119 afterburning turbojet engine. First flown 29 October 1980 and extant in F-16/79A (single-seat) and F-16/79B (two-seat) versions, the craft is intended as a reduced-cost export machine. The F-16/101 was a similarly re-engined example powered by a 12701kg thrust General Electric F101 turbojet of the same type as that which powers the Rockwell B-1 bomber.
The F-16C (single-seat) and F-16D (two-seat) are improved versions of the F-16A and F-16B and have replaced them on General Dynamics' Fort Worth production line by early 1985. The F-16R is a reconnaissance version with an under fuselage pod, and the F-16N is an 'Aggressor' version for the US Navy.
Without doubt, the most exciting combat aircraft of the early twenty-first century is the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. In the late 1970s, the US Air Force identified a requirement for 750 examples of an Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) to replace the F-15 Eagle. Flown by a single pilot, it must be able to survive in an environment filled with people, both in the air and on the ground, whose sole purpose is to destroy it. To test the concepts that would eventually be combined in the ATF, the US AF initiated a series of parallel research programs. The first was the YF-16 control-configured vehicle (CCV) which flew in 1976-77 and demonstrated the decoupled control of aircraft flight path and attitude; in other words, the machine could skid sideways, turn without banking, climb or descend without changing its attitude, and point its nose left or right, or up or down, without changing its flight path. Other test vehicles involved in the ATF program included the Grumman X-29, which flew for the first time in December 1984 and which was designed to investigate forward-sweep technology, and an F-111 fitted with a mission adaptive wing (MAW) - in other words, a wing capable of reconfiguring itself automatically to mission requirements.
Flight testing of all these experimental aircraft came under the umbrella of the USAF's Advanced Fighter Technology Integration (AFTI) program. In September 1983, while the AFTI program was well under way, the USAF awarded ATF concept definition study contracts to six American aerospace companies and, of these, two - Lockheed and Northrop - were selected to build demonstrator prototypes of their respective proposals. Each company produced two prototypes, the Lockheed YF-22 and the Northrop YF-23, and all four aircraft flew in 1990. Two different power plants, the Pratt & Whitney YF1-19 and the General Electric YF-120, were evaluated, and in April 1991 it was announced that the F-22 and F119 were the winning combination. The F-119 advanced technology engine, two of which power the F-22, develops 155kN and is fitted with two-dimensional convergent/ divergent exhaust nozzles with thrust vectoring for enhanced performance and maneuverability. The F-22 passed milestone II in 1991. At that time, the Air Force planned to acquire 648 F-22 operational aircraft at a cost of $86.6 billion. After the Bottom Up Review, completed by DOD in September 1993, the planned quantity of F-22s was reduced to 442 at an estimated cost of $71.6 billion.
The first definitive F-22 prototype was rolled out at the Lockheed Martin plant at Marietta, Georgia, on 9 April 1997. There were numerous problems with this aircraft, including software troubles and fuel leaks, and the first flight was delayed to 7 September 1997. The second prototype first flew on 29 June 1998. By late 2001, there were eight F-22s flying. The F-22 combines many stealth features. Its air-to-air weapons, for example, are stored internally; three internal bays house advanced short-range, medium-range and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles. Following an assessment of the aircraft's combat role in 1993, it was decided to add a ground-attack capability, and the internal weapons bay is also capable of accommodating 454kg GBU-32 precision guided missiles.
The F-22 is designed for a high sortie rate, with a turnaround time of less than 20 minutes, and its avionics are highly integrated to provide rapid reaction in air combat, much of its survivability depending on the pilot's ability to locate a target very early and take it out with a first shot. The F-22 was designed to meet a specific threat, which at that time was presented by large numbers of highly agile Soviet combat aircraft, its task being to engage them in their own airspace with beyond-visual-range weaponry.
Successfully kept secret for nearly 15 years, the Lockheed F-117A was the winning submission for the 'black' XST (Experimental Stealth Technology) competition of 1975-76 sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Both Northrop and Lockheed were contenders for the program, but in 1976 Lockheed was awarded the contract and built two technology demonstrator prototypes under a program codenamed 'Have Blue'. Powered by General Electric CJ610 turbojet engines, the first XST made its initial flight in December 1977 from Groom Lake, Nevada, piloted by William C. Park, but both prototypes ultimately crashed, one in May 1978 and the other in 1980.
Promising test results led to the development of two scaled-up YF-117A-LO prototypes which were followed by 57 production F-117As ordered in batches during the fiscal years 1980 to 1986 plus 1988. The first pre-production aircraft flew for the first time on 18 June 1981, and the first F-117A was handed over to the USAF in August 1982. Despite much worldwide speculation, the air force resisted confirming the existence of the program until November 1988 when they released a rudimentary and misleading photograph of the aircraft, and confirmed the designation. The next logical 'F number' should have been the F-19, and many agencies used this for some time when identifying the spectral aircraft. The USAF had allocated F-112 to F-116 to Soviet fighters acquired clandestinely for evaluation, and the designation F-117 was thought to be in use for the same purposes and consequently attracted less attention. The F-117A was declared operational in 1983, but the aircraft flew only at night from its secret base at Tonopah, 225km north-west of Las Vegas, Nevada, to preserve program secrecy, until late in 1989 when daytime flying began. Two aircraft were lost in accidents in July 1986 and October 1987 and these were attributed to pilot disorientation associated with fatigue.
F-117As, reportedly nicknamed 'Wobblin Goblin', but more usually referred to by its pilot as the 'Black Jet' and officially named Night Hawk, first went into action in December 1989 as part of Operation Just Cause mounted by the US to remove from office General Manuel Noriega of Panama. The aircraft's performance in placing ordnance onto specific targets with absolute precision was considered a vindication of the whole program. Further action came in January 1991 with the Gulf conflict and a major proportion of the USAF fleet (42 out of the surviving 54) were eventually based in Saudi Arabia with 415th Tactical Fighter Squadron 'Nightstalkers', the 416th TFS 'Ghostriders' and the 417th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron 'Bandits', all comprising the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, one of whose aircraft dropped the very first bomb of Operation Desert Storm on 17 January 1991.
The result of a radical design philosophy which seeks to minimize the radar signature of an aircraft, the F-117A features angular multi-faceted air frame panels designed to deflect and in some cases absorb radar energy. The heavily-swept wing of just over 67° illustrates highly-complex aerodynamics and the intakes, doors and access panel shapes are all optimized to reflect radar signals. Wing and fuselage are aerodynamically blended and made of conventional aluminum but specially coated with radar absorbent materials. Tail surfaces, or 'ruddervators', are made of composites, and the whole aircraft is controlled by a quadruplex fly-by-wire system. The comprehensive avionics fit includes forward- and downward-looking infra-red systems; head-up and head-down displays; a retractable laser designator; multi-function CRTs; a mission computer and flight control computer/navigation system interface, plus a global positioning system. Power plants are non-afterburning variants of the General Electric F404 engine used in the F-18 Hornet.
Almost seven decades have elapsed since the Air Force issued its original design specification, yet the remarkable C-130 remains in production. The initial production model was the C-130A, with four Allison T56-A-11 or -9 turboprops. A total of 219 were ordered and deliveries began in December 1956. The C-130B introduced Allison T56-A-7 turboprops and the first of 134 entered Air Force service in May 1959. Introduced in August of 1962, the 389 C-130E's that were ordered used the same Allison T56-A-7 engine, but added two 1,290 gallon external fuel tanks and an increased maximum takeoff weight capability. June 1974 introduced the first of 308 C-130H's with the more powerful Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engine. Nearly identical to the C-130E externally, the new engine brought major performance improvements to the aircraft. The latest C-130 to be produced, the C-130J entered the inventory in February 1999. With the noticeable difference of a six-bladed composite propeller coupled to a Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engine, the C-130J brings substantial performance improvements over all previous models, and has allowed the introduction of the C-130J-30, a stretch version with a 15-foot fuselage extension. To date, the Air Force has taken delivery of 68 C-130J aircraft from Lockheed Martin. Total built to date 2300+ Hercules
The USAF's SR-71A two-seat strategic-reconnaissance aircraft originates from the remarkable Lockheed A-11, detail design of which began in 1959. Almost certainly intended to follow into service the Lockheed U-2, the A-11 derived from the design team led by C. L. 'Kelly' Johnson. Four A-11 were ordered, the first being flown on 26 April 1962.Three were later modified into YF-12A interceptors, entering service for evaluation in 1964. They were capable of speeds in excess of Mach 3 and of sustained supersonic flight at heights of up to 24,385m. Consequently construction was largely of titanium to maintain structural integrity, for as a result of kinetic heating, localized skin temperatures of up to about 427°C could be reached. To retard as much as possible the effects of such heating, these aircraft were finished in a high-heat-emissive black paint, leading to the name Blackbird. The fourth A-11 (ordered on the original contract) was subsequently redesignated YF-12C. From it was developed the SR-71A reconnaissance aircraft, the first of which flew on 22 December 1964. The readily recognizable configuration of this aircraft results from extensive wind-tunnel testing to evolve a minimum-drag fuselage providing maximum speed while keeping kinetic heating to the minimum; and to maintain the best possible handling characteristics at supersonic, take-off (about 370km/h) and landing (about 278km/h) speeds.
Power plant comprises two 144.6kN Pratt & Whitney turbojets. The 36,287kg of special fuel for these engines - which is contained within upper-fuselage and inner-wing tanks - acts as a heat sink for the entire aircraft, fuel temperature being raised to 320°C before being injected into the engines. Highly complex air intakes with computer-controlled fail-safe systems are essential to ensure that smooth airflow to the engines is maintained over the enormous forward speed range of 0-3,200km/h, at the upper limit of which the engines are virtually operating as turbo-ramjets. SR-71A began to enter USAF service in January 1966 and it is believed that as many as 31 may have been built. They have the capability to survey an area of 155,400km2 within an hour and in 1976 established a closed-circuit speed record of 3,367.221km/h; a world absolute speed record of 3,529.56km/h; and a sustained-altitude record of 25,929.031m.
The X-35 Joint Strike Fighter project originated in a 1980s requirement by the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy that a replacement for the Sea Harrier and AV-8B would be needed early in the twenty-first century. Various research studies were undertaken on both sides of the Atlantic into advanced short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) concepts, the most promising of which appeared to involve the use of a dedicated lift-fan located behind the cockpit. In 1989, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) took over leadership of the advanced STOVL project and focused the on-going effort into a phased development program leading to a flying demonstrator aircraft using the powerful new engines developed for the YF-22 and YF-23 Advanced Tactical Fighter.
As the studies progressed, it was realized that a STOVL aircraft with the lift-fan removed and replaced by a large fuel tank would result in a fighter with excellent long-range capability. Such a fighter would fulfill the needs of the US Air Force, which was looking for a longer-ranged fighter capability in the light of Gulf War operations. So was born the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) project, aimed at producing a single aircraft design with both STOVL and conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variants. In March 1993, study contracts were issued to Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas under the CALF project. In addition, Boeing and Northrop Grumman initiated private venture design studies.
In 1995, CALF was absorbed into the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program, which was originally intended to focus on technology studies and demonstration of various equipment for next-generation strike aircraft. In fact, JAST soon evolved into a firm requirement for an advanced single-seat, single-engined lightweight multi-role fighter which could be operated by the USAF, US Navy and US Marine Corps in closely similar variants. In 1996, JAST was renamed JSF (Joint Strike Fighter), and in November that year Boeing and Lockheed Martin were awarded contracts to build two Concept Demonstrator Aircraft (CDA) -one CTOL version and one STOVL version - each. The aircraft were not intended to be fighter prototypes, but rather to prove that the selected design concepts would work, hence the use of X-series designations. The Boeing design received the designation , while the Lockheed Martin design was given the designation X-35. For the two Concept Demonstrator Aircraft, the designation X-35A was allocated to the CTOL version and X-35B to the STOVL version.
Unlike Boeing, Lockheed Martin introduced a third version, the X-35C, to undertake simulated aircraft carrier (CV/CTOL) testing. This aircraft was produced by converting the existing X-35A after it had completed its planned flight trials. The Lockheed Martin X-35A and X-35B possess very similar airframes, including the aft cockpit bulge and associated doors for the lift-fan, which is only fitted to the X-35B. The Lockheed Martin X-35A made its first flight on 24 October 2000 from Palmdale, California.
The RAF had a mixed fleet of nine hose-and-drogue extended Lockheed L-1011 Tristar aircraft, which were operated by No 216 Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, in the air transport (AT) and air-to-air refuelling (AAR) roles. The aircraft, which previously saw airline service when they were owned by British Airways and Pan Am, were purchased by the RAF in the early 1980s. The six ex-British Airways aircraft were modified by Marshall of Cambridge (Engineering) into AAR tanker aircraft, with a twin, centreline hose-and-drogue configuration. Four aircraft were designated KC1, while two were designated K1. The installation included the addition of under-floor fuel tanks which increased the available fuel load by 43,900kgs. This allows a total fuel load of 139,700kgs to be carried, which can be used by the aircraft itself, or given away to receivers. Although the aircraft has two hosedrum refuelling units, only one can be used at a time, thus restricting AAR to single-point refuelling. On a typical AAR flight from the UK to Cyprus, or Gander (Canada), the KC1 can refuel up to four fast-jet aircraft and simultaneously carry up to 31 tonnes of passengers and/or freight. The addition of a large, fuselage freight-door and a roller-conveyor system allow outsized palletized cargo to be carried. Although the K1 model does not have the freight door, it retains a passenger- seat fit of 187 in the rear cabin, with baggage carried in the forward cabin. The three ex-Pan Am aircraft are largely unchanged from their airline days and operate in the passenger role, carrying up to 266 passengers. These aircraft are designated C2 and C2A and are used extensively for transporting troops to world-wide destinations in support of exercises and operations. All versions of the TriStar aircraft could operate in the aeromedical evacuation role, including the option of installing a full stretcher fit if required for the repatriation of casualties. All RAF Tristar's had a comprehensive avionics suite, which is undergoing modernization. As part of this program the aircraft were fitted with equipment which enabled them to operate as a JTIDS (Joint Tactical Information Distribution System) station and a radio relay station in areas of intensive military operations.