History of Military Aircraft
Military aircraft has become more sophisticated in variety, effectiveness in war
situations, and special maneuvering techniques in recent years. With the advance of
technology, many new and very effective aircraft have been developed. The F-117A was
used during Operation Dessert Storm and every plane came back without a scratch. The
very expensive B-2 stealth bomber has never been used in actual war, but during testing it
was a success. The Advanced Tactical Fighter program was started to make an aircraft
that could supercruise, the ability to cruise at supersonic speeds, and didn’t cost very
much. The YF-22 and YF-23 were the first planes to accomplish this. With all the planes
we know of, there are also top secret programs probably going on right now. A new
fighter that has never been heard of before has been spotted. As John Welch, the assistant
secretary of Air Force said, “Stealth gives us back that fundamental element of war called
surprise” (Goodall 9).
After it was found that aircraft could be very useful in war, it was used for large scale
reconnaissance. Then people started to add bombs to aircraft and then airplanes started to
become an essence of war. After World War 2, new bombers were developed with fast
speed, and could travel far distances. They could also carry nuclear bombs and missiles.
The use of the bomber aircraft then led to the fighter, which was equipped with guns and
missiles. Helicopters were also found to be good strike aircraft. They were armed with
cannons, machine guns, rockets, torpedoes, and a variety of missiles. Vertical takeoff
made the helicopter an advantage.
The first flight of the F-117A was in June of 1981 in Groom Lake test facility. The
total cost for the development of the F-117A was just under two billion dollars, but it
cost $43 million to make each plane. It became operational in October of 1983 and was
the first operational stealth aircraft ever built. The F-117A is a night attack plane
by two, nonafterburning General Electric engines. F-117As were designed for first-strike
capabilities and to be able to fly into any countries airspace undetected. The primary task
of the F-117A is to break through enemy airspace, destroy high value targets, and return
back unharmed. They were considered to first be used in several different tasks, but
weren’t used until Operation Dessert Storm where they did an excellent job. As Donald
Rice, Secretary of the Air Force, said, “Everyone now agrees the F-117 was a real
During Operation Dessert Storm the F-117As were found out to be very successful.
The war began on January 16, 1991 when the F-117A fighters entered the Iraqi airspace
on their way to downtown Baghdad. There were 43 of them over the skies of Iraq and not
one was lost even though they went against one of the most modern air-defense systems
the world. Operation Dessert Storm was the largest aerial bombing attack in war history.
It was also the first time a stealth aircraft was used as a main weapon. On the first day of
Dessert Storm the Lockheed F-117As dropped sixty-two 2,000 pound bombs on Baghdad
destroying the most critical targets of the Iraqi military, including the headquarters of the
Iraqi air force. “We’ve seen that not only does stealth work, but that it puts fewer assets at
risk and saves lives” (9), as Donald Rice said. The pilots of those F-117As flew through
the hardest anti-aircraft missiles any pilot has ever flown through.
When you think of stealth, most people probably think of B-2 stealth bomber, but
most people don’t realize that it hasn’t even been used in a real war situation yet. In
November of 1987 the Pentagon ordered the first four B-2s to be built for $2 billion.
B-2 cost $437.4 million to build. After the military liked the bomber, they originally
ordered 133 of them, then they cut back to 75 because of the deficit-reduction bill. Then,
in 1992, the House of Representatives voted to buy only twenty, and later only 15 saying
that 10 would be enough. With four General Electric engines with 19,000 pounds of
each, the B-2s were made to carry a lot of weight. The Advanced Technology Bomber, as
it was called, was made so it couldn’t be spotted by enemy radar. After testing it was
found out that it is almost impossible to track it constantly using radar. The B-2s were
designed to be an all-flying wing and it is made up