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Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk
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On 26 August 2008, the Full Scale Development YF-117A known as Article 784 was scrapped at the US Air Force's Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.

The operation began by first removing the secretive leading edge structures and radar absorbant materials covering the exterior of the plane. The latter typically contains highly toxic substances that must be processed for safe disposal.

With these stealth measures removed, the F-117 is little different from any other outdated plane no longer needed by the military. The remainder of the scrapping process was therefore quite low tech. A demolition vehicle completed the task using shears to cut off the wings and break up the remains of the fuselage.

The scrapping was said to be a test of the best methods for disposing of the F-117 fleet now stored at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. The aircraft were moved to the remote facility following the retirement of the Nighthawk earlier in the year.

Although it has been stated the remaining F-117 fleet is to be preserved in a condition making it possible to reactivate the planes at a future date, if necessary, the destruction of Article 784 suggests the Air Force is instead planning to dispose of the stealthy attack bombers.

Article 784 was the fifth and final pre-production prototype of the F-117. The first four have been preserved as displays at the Air Force Museum in Ohio, Blackbird Airpark in California, Nellis AFB in Nevada, and Holloman AFB in New Mexico.


F-117 (45k) Scrapping of the fifth YF-117
F-117 (39k) YF-117 being scrapped to determine cost effective disposal methods

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