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Image credit: Andrew Kelly

A recent sighting of an F-117 Nighthawk flying low over California in March 2024 has taken the internet by storm. Social media platform [X] exploded with comments praising the jet’s unique design, with some claiming it still looks futuristic even “50 years down the line.”

While the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk was officially retired from active service by the U.S. Air Force in 2008, this legendary aircraft is far from gone. As we’ve been reporting for years, the Nighthawk continues to fly for a variety of purposes.

The Nighthawk acts as a realistic opponent for modern fighter jets like the F-35 in training exercises, ensuring pilots are prepared for various aerial threats. It also serves as a stand-in for simulating cruise missile behavior.

The F-117’s unique stealth characteristics continue to be valuable for research purposes. This could involve testing new radar-defeating materials or tactics for next-generation stealth aircraft.

As the sighting suggests, F-117s from their base in Tonopah, Nevada, still participate in low-level training flights, demonstrating their continued airworthiness and tactical capabilities.

The F-117 Nighthawk may be a relic of the Cold War era, but its unique design and adaptability ensure it remains a valuable asset for the U.S. Air Force, even as it looks towards the future of aerial combat.