Thesis: Military aircraft has become more sophisticated in variety, effectiveness in war

situations, and special maneuvering techniques in recent years.

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

bargain" (9).

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