Lockheed Have Blue was the code name for Lockheed's proof of concept demonstrator that preceded the production F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft.


Lockheed Stealth Have Blue

Design/Development

Lockheed Have Blue was the code name for Lockheed's proof of concept demonstrator that preceded the production F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft. Have Blue was designed by Lockheed's Skunk Works division, and tested at Groom Lake, Nevada. The Have Blue was the first fixed-wing aircraft whose external shape was defined by radar engineering rather than by aerospace engineering. The aircraft's plate-like, faceted shape was designed to deflect electromagnetic waves in directions other than that of the originating radar emitter, greatly reducing its radar cross-section. Two flyable vehicles were constructed, but both crashed during the flight-test program.

 

In the 1970s, it became increasingly apparent to U.S. planners that, in a military confrontation with Warsaw Pact forces, NATO aircraft would quickly suffer heavy losses. This came as a result of sophisticated Soviet defense networks, which used surveillance radars, radar-guided surface-to-air missiles (SAM), and anti-aircraft artillery to seek and eliminate enemy aircraft. Consequently, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) started a study on low-observability aircraft, seeking to design and produce an operational stealth aircraft. Five companies were initially invited, three of which bowed out early. The remaining two were later joined by Lockheed.

 

To design the aircraft, the Skunk Works' design team devised a computer program to calculate the radar cross-sections (RCS) of various designs. The eventual design characteristically featured faceted surfaces to deflect radar waves away from a radar receiver. It had highly-swept wings and inward-canted vertical stabilizers, which led to its being nicknamed "Hopeless Diamond". The first operational aircraft made its maiden flight on 1 December 1977. The flight test program validated the feasibility of a flyable stealth aircraft. However, both prototypes were lost due to mechanical problems. Nevertheless, Have Blue was deemed a success, paving the way for the first operational stealth aircraft, Senior Trend, or Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk.

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Lockheed Have Blue

In October 1977, just prior to Phase 2 of the XST competition, Lockheed was tasked with exploring possible operational aircraft. Just a month later, on the day HB1001 was transported to Groom Lake, the Air Force awarded the company a contract under the code name Senior Trend.] The Air Force wanted to exploit the revolutionary technologies developed during the Have Blue program.

  • History

    Role Stealth demonstrator

    Manufacturer Lockheed Skunk Works

    First flight 1 December 1977; etired 1979 (crashed)

    Status Planes destroyed in crashes

    Primary user Lockheed

    Produced 1977–1978; Number built 2

    Developed into Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk

  • Primary User

    Crew: 1

    Length: 47 ft 3 in (14.40 m)

    Wingspan: 22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)

    Height: 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m)

    Empty weight: 8,950 lb (4,060 kg); Max. takeoff weight: 12,500 lb (5,670 kg)

    Powerplant: 2 × General Electric J85-GE-4A turbojets

  • Variants

    Maximum speed: 600 mph (966 km/h)

    Wing loading: 32 lb/ft² (156 kg/m²)

    Thrust/weight: 0.46–0.62

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Flight tests proceeded fairly smoothly until 4 May 1978, when HB1001 was making its 36th flight. The aircraft pitched up just as it made contact with the ground which forced the pilot, Bill Park, to abort the landing and make a second attempt. The impact had however been so hard that the landing gear had become jammed in a semi-retracted position. Efforts to lower the gear were unsuccessful and Bill Park was forced to climb again, and eject when his fuel ran out. The aircraft was destroyed on impact in the vicinity of the Groom Lake facility. Park survived, but suffered a concussion, forcing him to retire from further test flights, Dyson, who was in the chase plane, recounted: "Just before touchdown the airplane pitched up... It seemed it slammed down on the ground real hard...

Lockheed Have Blue Stealth

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Lockheed Have Blue was the code name for Lockheed's proof of concept demonstrator that preceded the production
F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft.

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