…the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute announced its “Operation Nighthawk Landing” project – a Reagan Foundation & Institute and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® joint effort that will soon bring an F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter to the Reagan Museum for permanent exhibition. Made possible by loan from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the F-117 placed on display will serve as a visible reminder to the Library’s near half-million annual visitors of President Reagan’s commitment to the rebuilding of the U.S. military through his “Peace through Strength” program. The F-117 Nighthawk, Tail #803, nicknamed “Unexpected Guest,” flew more combat sorties (78) than all other F-117s combined. The aircraft entered service in May 1984, during President Reagan’s administration.
“The Reagan Library will now be one of two places in the nation where the general public can visit an F-117 Stealth Fighter on permanent display,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. “We are deeply grateful to Lockheed Martin for their outstanding assistance in restoring the aircraft for such a meaningful display and to the U.S. Air Force for making it possible for the Reagan Library to exhibit the plane for millions of visitors to enjoy for years to come.”
The F-117 Nighthawk was the world’s first operational stealth aircraft. Between 1981 and 2008, Lockheed Martin produced 59 operational F-117s and five developmental prototypes, but the aircraft weren’t publicly acknowledged until 1988. Known as “stealth fighters,” the F-117’s angular shape was designed to reflect radar waves and was bolstered by the use of a radar-absorbing material. Because the aircraft was only expected to operate at night, it was painted black to make it more difficult to discern against the night sky.