USAF 8th FW unveils F-16 Black Ship honoring F-117

USAF black F16 honoring F117
A USAF F-16 assigned to the 8th FW wears a special black-gray livery to honor the F-117 Nighthawk that was flown by the Squadron for over 25 years.

The 8th Fighter Squadron collaborated with Hill Air Force Base, Utah to paint their F-16 Viper flagship a sleek matte black in honor of the F-117 Nighthawk.

Traditional heritage and squadron paint schemes reflect the combat lineage of their respective units that honor and celebrate the history and traditions of the units to which they belong.

“The Black Sheep was one of the Holloman fighter units to fly the F-117 Nighthawk,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Daniel Thompson, 8th FS instructor pilot. “We decided to highlight a unique facet of our history which aligns perfectly with the identity of our unit.”

Overall, the combination of dark and light gray tones as well as the distinct squadron markings give the aircraft a unique appearance.

“We were striving for a design that allowed the jet to perform in training and look good from all angles,” said Thompson. “Various concepts and modifications were implemented on the jet, leading to the final design which was the product of extensive rumination within the squadron.”

USAF black F16 honoring F117

The F-117 was transferred to Holloman in 1992 and the 8th FS flew it on daring missions with minimal support in high-threat environments for over 25 years. They also played a crucial role in integrating the Nighthawk into the U.S. Air Force’s operational capabilities, contributing to its successful deployment in various conflicts.

It was developed by Lockheed’s Skunk Works division in the 1970s as a top-secret project and was designed primarily for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses, being virtually invisible to radar detection, while utilizing advanced technology. The aircraft’s performance demonstrated its ability to strike high-value targets with great precision while evading enemy defenses.

The Nighthawk was officially retired from active service in 2008, primarily due to the emergence of more advanced aircraft but remains an iconic symbol of stealth technology and precision strike capabilities. Its successful combat record paved the way for the development of future stealth aircrafts and influenced modern military tactics and strategies.

“The F-117 paint scheme preserves and honors the legacy of the 8th FS from 1992 to 2008 and fosters a sense of pride continuity, reinforcing the unit’s identity and traditions,” said Martha Whipple, 49th Wing historian. “This paint scheme bridges the past and present, educating the new generations of maintainers and pilots about the history of the Black Sheep.”

USAF black F16 honoring F117

The aircraft played a significant role in shaping the evolution of military aviation, dating back to World War II. The F-117 was at Holloman longer than any other base and remains a historic Fightin’ 49er icon.

“The Nighthawk played a pivotal role in history, and we believed it would be fitting to commission an aircraft with a paint job that pays tribute to the legacy of our squadron and the Air Force,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joshua Hughes, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft section chief. “The flagship with be utilized for airshows and any available opportunities, to fly the aircraft to showcase the 8th FS heritage.”

The squadron intends to use the flagship as a daily trainer aircraft in support of their mission to build world-class aircrew for the Great Power Competition.

“We have a task to do here so we intend to fly it and educate others,” said Thompson. “The completion of the sleek matte black paint job never fails to make me smile whenever I catch a glimpse of it, and it appears both the 8th FS and 8th AMU share the same positive response.”

USAF black F16 honoring F117

Source, Images: USAF

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