Scramble, a Dutch aviation magazine, has reported on Facebook that four now decommissioned Lockheed F-117 Nighthawks were secretly deployed to the Middle Esat in 2017 to launch surgical strikes.
According to the aviation magazine, the stealth attack aircraft were conducting bombing missions over Iraq and Syria using GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs.
One of the planes was even forced to make an emergency landing far away from its home base.
Scramble indicates that the jets were likely deployed to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or Qatar.
There has not been an official response by the US Department of Defence on the confirmation of this story.
“Back in 2017, and not published by any other source so far, Scramble received very reliable information that at least four F-117s were deployed to the Middle East as an operational need emerged for the USAF to resurrect the stealth F-117 for special purposes. One of the deployed aircraft was involved in an in-flight emergency and landed far away from its temporary home base that was likely located in Saudi Arabia, the UAE or Qatar.
During this extremely covert deployment the four Nighthawks flew missions over Syria and Iraq with Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs),” wrote Sramble.
So, why was first-generation stealth technology deployed to a sophisticated and modern aerial battlefield like Syria? The answer is straightforward.
Russia and Syria had shut down the country’s airspace by mid-2016. The U.S.-led coalition understood there was an elevated risk of losing a fifth-generation aircraft due to Russia’s deployment of S-400 missile systems.
So, with all this in mind, the resurrection of the F-117 was to fill an urgent gap in the Pentagon’s ability to secretly strike targets in the disputed airspace.
The U.S. Air Force retired the Nighthawks in August 2008, according to some reports due to the fielding of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and other fifth-generation fighters.
Congress had ordered that all F-117s mothballed were to be maintained “in a condition that would allow recall of that aircraft to future service” as part of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act. The 2017 National Defence Authorisation Act ordered the “demilitarising” of four F-117s each year, meaning some of them are still capable of participating in bombing missions.
Still, there is no evidence that four F-117s were resurrected for secret combat missions in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, it is not entirely impossible to believe that stealth jets were sent to the Middle East, due to the National Defence Authorisation Act demanding the Air Force to keep a small number of these planes in operational order.