The F-117 in the war against Yugoslavia
Translation Manfed Rassau 2009
In May 1999, war raged again in Europe. This time against Yugoslavia.
This was the first time the F-117 "Night Hawks" were used in live fire.
A stealth bomber of the USA, which should not be detected by radar.
They were to fly attacks against Yugoslav air defense objects under cover of night. Mainly laser-guided bombs were used.
According to various information, they were constantly covered by radio-electronic warfare aircraft during their missions.
In general, there was relatively less coverage in the U.S. press of the F-117A's participation in this war in Europe than there was during the Gulf War missions.
Thus, one might conclude that fewer successes were achieved in the European theater of war.
The conflict in the Balkans finally ended the rumor of the invulnerability of the Stealth bomber.
The destruction of the first F-117A with pilot Captain K. Dzilly at the controls during the third day of combat at about 9 p.m. on March 27 was a real shock to the United States. The aircraft had been shot down 32 kilometers from Belgrade.
There are several versions about its destruction:
By rockets of the complex "Kub", by interceptors MiG-29 or by firing with anti-aircraft artillery.
Possibly, different means of the Serbs were applied to the defeat of this F-117A. It is difficult to decide who deserves the most credit.
According to the US pilot, the attack against his plane was completely unexpected.
His warning system had not responded.
Pilot Dzilly was able to save himself with his ejection seat. He hid from Yugoslav police in a cave. Seven hours later, a U.S. search party found him and took the pilot to Aviano Air Force Base in northern Italy.
During this search and rescue operation, an HH-60 "Pipe Hawk" helicopter was shot down near the village of Uglewik. Only two crewmen survived the crash and were taken prisoner.
On April 1, 1999, another F-117A had to make an emergency landing at Plezo airfield near Zagreb in enemy territory. It had received heavy battle damage.
Still another stealth bomber was lost in attacks against the "Zrewni Kot" television tower on April 5, according to Serbia.
The pilot catapulted and landed in the area of the village of Remete.
On May 2, the Serbs reported that a MiG-29 had shot down another F-117A over Kosovo.
The consequences of these losses proved worse for the U.S. than expected. Soon, only circulating rumors were confirmed that the remains of one of the "stealth" bombers shot down over Yugoslavia had been taken to Russia, where they had been thoroughly examined.
In No.5 of the October 5, 2001 issue of the journal "Aviation week" there is a report from Shukovsky. In it, unnamed senior Russian aviation industry figures admitted that the remains of the F-117A were used to give Russian air defenses better ways to locate and destroy low-visibility aircraft and winged missiles.
It is doubtful that research into technologies more than 20 years old will advance Russian science.
But having foreign secrets in hand is always useful.