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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Brando

Stealth Fighter Jet F-117 Nighthawk Exhibit at The Ronald Reagan Library -Simi Valley

By Jalyn Mayer, December 21, 2019

Photo: Reagan Foundation

The F-117 Nighthawk, the world's first operational stealth aircraft, is currently on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA. The jet was unveiled on December 7th, 2019 at an official ribbon-cutting ceremony during the Reagan Foundation and Institute’s annual Reagan National Defense Forum. It is located outdoors near the Library’s F-14 aircraft, situated on the west side of the Library’s property and clearly visible from inside the Library’s famous auditorium.

Photo: William Meserve for The Big Magazine

The jet's permanent exhibition was made possible through a joint effort between the Reagan Foundation & Institute and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® as part of their “Operation Nighthawk Landing” project. On loan from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the F-117 Nighthawk will serve as a visible reminder to the Library’s near half-million annual visitors of President Reagan's commitment to the rebuilding of the U.S. military through his “Peace through Strength” program.

Photo: William Meserve for The Big Magazine

“The Reagan Library will now be one of two places in the nation where the general public can visit an F-117 Stealth Fighter on permanent display,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. “We are deeply grateful to Lockheed Martin for their outstanding assistance in restoring the aircraft for such a meaningful display and to the U.S. Air Force for making it possible for the Reagan Library to exhibit the plane for millions of visitors to enjoy for years to come.”

Photo: William Meserve for The Big Magazine

The F-117 Nighthawk flew more combat sorties than all other F-117s combined. The aircraft entered service in May 1984, during President Reagan’s administration. Between 1981 and 2008, Lockheed Martin produced 59 operational F-117s and five developmental prototypes, but the aircraft weren’t publicly acknowledged until 1988. Known as “stealth fighters,” the F-117’s angular shape was designed to reflect radar waves and was bolstered by the use of a radar-absorbing material. Because the aircraft was only expected to operate at night, it was painted black to make it more difficult to discern against the night sky.

Photo: William Meserve for The Big Magazine

“The F-117 was developed in response to an urgent national need,” said Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® “It has paved the way for today’s stealth technology and reminds us to continue redefining what’s possible. It’s been a privilege for our team to collaborate with the USAF and the Reagan Foundation on this effort, and we are excited to see it on proud display at its new home.”

Photo: William Meserve for The Big Magazine

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum houses over 55 million pages of Gubernatorial, Presidential and personal papers and over 60,000 gifts and artifacts chronicling the lives of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. It also serves as the final resting place of America’s 40th President and his First Lady. It is sustained through the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, a nonprofit organization created by President Reagan to continue his legacy.

For more information about the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, please visit



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