Date: Wed Feb 23 1994 21:33:10
From: Thomas Yoha
Subj: Stealth Jet
As seen on a wire service Wednesday, February 23, 1994;
Report: New Stealth Joins US Fleet
LONDON-5:08 PM (ET) 02/23/94-The US Air Force apparently has
developed a new stealth aircraft capable of spying or bombing, an
authoritative British defense journal reported Wednesday.
Jane's International Defense Review published a drawing of the
diamond-shaped plane, which strongly resembles a smaller version
of the B-2 stealth bomber.
The unidentified aircraft has been seen in flight in several
places across the southwestern US and was captured on 2
videotapes, one made near Groom Lake Air Force Base in Nevada, the
magazine said in its March issue.
The Air Force "is not in a position to comment on the story,
one way or another," according to spokesman, Col. Doug Kennet, in
American aviation writer Bill Sweetman, who wrote the report,
said he believes the plane is a superior, all-weather successor to
the F-117 stealth fighter, the world's first radar-evading
The new aircraft flies at medium or low altitude at over 500
mph, said Clifford Beal, the magazine's features editor who viewed
The F-117, conceived in 1978 and first tested in 1981, was the
only aircraft to attack heavily defended Baghdad during the Gulf
War in 1991. The $46 million jets destroyed more than 40 % of
their targets, and were never hit by Iraqi fire.
The F-117 was put into service so quickly that some features of
conventional fighters were omitted.
"Compared with the F-117, the new aircraft would have greater
range, all-weather sensors, greater weapons capacity" and perhaps
new measures to frustrate advanced radars, Sweetman said.
"The F-117 does not have any ability to hit targets that are
covered by cloud. This aircraft could very likely do that," he
said in an interview.
The sketch is based on the assumption that the single-seat,
twin-engine aircraft has a wingspan of about 66 feet and is no
less than 40 feet at the center line. It probably weighs just over
30 tons fully loaded and could be powered by 2 General Electric
F404 engines, Sweetman said.
He said the US Air Force acquired 250 F404 engines during the
F-117 program. Since 59 F-117s were built, there would be enough
extra engines for between 35 and 40 twin-engined aircraft, leaving
a 20 % allowance for spares, he said.
Observers first assumed the aircraft was designed for
reconnaissance, but other sources have identified it as an attack
aircraft, Sweetman said.
He said it could be both--an attractive proposition when costs
are rising and Pentagon budgets are shrinking.
Jane's has known about the plane for over a year but waited for
"a sufficient body of evidence" before publishing, said Beal, the
In addition to the videotapes and eyewitness reports, Beal said
there is a continuing Air Force need for stealth aircraft, which
have become essential to modern warfare.
No more F-117s are being built and only 20 B-2 bombers have
"The F-117 was always designed as an interim aircraft and it
shows. The stealth science has gone much further than the F-117,"
"After the Gulf War, Congress asked the Air Force if they
wanted more F-117s because of their success rate, but the Air
Force did not request additional F-117s. They were obviously
reluctant to build more F-117s, when they could do better," he
"These are all threads, but if you put them together it makes a
strong case that there is a follow-on that they are testing."
Earlier this month, CIA Director R. James Woolsey denied the US
is building a new high- speed, high-altitude spy plane to replace
the SR- 71 Blackbird. But he did not specifically deny that a new
generation spy plane was being developed.
(From The Associated Press)