04:37 GMT02 December 2020
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    For the first time in more than a decade, F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters have been spotted flying out of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. While retired from service 12 years ago, some have continued flying with the US Air Force for research purposes. However, their move to Nellis could signal a major reduction of secrecy around their activities.

    Even though it was retired from active service more than a decade ago, the world’s first stealth aircraft is still flying in limited numbers, and its highly secretive research missions have apparently taken it to a much more public venue than it’s enjoyed in recent years: Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. According to The Drive’s The War Zone, it’s the first time the Nighthawk has been seen at Nellis in 12 years.

    Aviation photographer Santos Caceres snapped several stunning, high-definition photos of one of the F-117s taking off at Nellis on October 30.

    As The War Zone reported, the jet’s appearance at Nellis came after an even more high-profile trip to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California, where it’s likely the aircraft took part in North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) air defense exercises. 

    Sputnik has reported how the Nighthawks are likely still being used as testbeds to further hone both the development of low-observable technology and the best ways to detect stealth aircraft, as more and more nations acquire jets with the technology.

    That research, if occurring, is likely their primary role at Tonopah Test Range, part of the sprawling Nevada Test and Training Range that also includes Area 51.

    The Miramar and Nellis trips aren’t the F-117’s only public appearances recently. In March, the angular, black jet made a close pass over Death Valley, California, in a location known as “Star Wars Canyon” because of its austere terrain.

    Related:

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    Photos: Retired F-117 Stealth Fighter Spotted Over California’s ‘Star Wars Canyon’
    Author Reveals Why US F-117 Never 'Executed Nuclear Strikes' Against the Soviet Union
    Tags:
    testing, Photos, Nellis Air Force Base, Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk
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