In the 1970’s Soviet air defense systems improved and the U.S. realized they had to develop aircraft to counter this. Lockheed Skunk Works was tasked with the job and two aircraft were built under the code name “Have Blue” that proved stealth aircraft could be produced. As a result the F-117 Nighthawk was developed and first flew in 1981 with the first production F-117 80-10785 making its maiden flight on April 20, 1982 but it wasn’t until 1988 that the Pentagon confirmed its existence.
The 412th Test Wing / 410th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB were the last units to operate the F-117. F-117A first flew in 1987 and on December 1, 1988 was the first F-117 to test the new OCIP II upgrade. Between November 27 and December 6, 1990 #831 wore a painting of a skunk on its belly as a tribute to the Skunk Works. On December 6, 1990 #831 was flown to Area 51 to celebrate the retirement of the company’s president Ben Rich. The painting was removed immediately after the event.