Recent flying activity by F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters over southern California and Nevada has revealed a possible new operating unit. One of the aircraft has been seen carrying a fin band bearing the name ‘Dark Knights’ together with a Nighthawk symbol. If this is indeed a unit designation, it’s not one known to have been connected to the F-117 in the past. However, the fin band seems to suggest that the unit operating the jets from Tonopah may have received this name, unofficially or otherwise.
All other markings on this particular ‘Dark Knights’ F-117 have been removed, although a faint ‘ED’ tailcode might be visible, suggesting it is one of the examples flown from Palmdale under the 410th Flight Test Squadron.
Formally retired by the USAF in 2008, the F-117s are officially being kept in Type 1000 storage at Tonopah under a 2007 government ruling that calls for them to be maintained in a status from which they could be recalled to active service, should the need arise.
The forthcoming May issue of AFM’s sister publication Combat Aircraft features an in-depth analysis of the ongoing Nighthawk operations.