In a tribute to its rich history, the 8th Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base recently revealed the Black Jet F-16 flagship, now adorned in a new color scheme — black and grey. This new design pays homage to the squadron’s legacy of flying the F-117 Nighthawk, the first stealth aircraft.

Maj. Daniel Thompson, an instructor pilot with the squadron, emphasized that the new paint scheme perfectly aligns with the unit’s identity and highlights a unique chapter of its history.

A Legacy of Stealth: The F-117 Nighthawk’s Impact

From 1992 until 2008, the 8th Fighter Squadron operated the F-117, a stealth jet specifically created to evade radar and strike deep into the heart of the enemy. Development of the F-117 started in 1978, and it first flew in 1981. However, the Pentagon didn’t publicly acknowledge the aircraft’s existence until 1988.

Black Jet 2
An F-16 Viper from the 8th Fighter Squadron waits on the runway at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on June 28, 2024. (AETC)

The F-117 first saw combat during the Panama invasion in 1989. It also conducted over a thousand sorties in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, delivering precision-guided munitions. The F-117 joined the 8th Fighter Squadron in 1992. This was known as “The Black Sheep” due to its World War II service, flying P-38, P-40, P-47, and P-51 fighters in the Pacific. The squadron’s emblem, featuring a black sheep alongside a lightning bolt, symbolizes their striking power and boldness.

Continuing the Mission: The F-16 and Ongoing Operations

The F-117 bolstered the squadron’s capabilities during deployments in the 1990s, such as Operation Southern Watch in the Middle East and Operation Allied Force in Europe. During the latter, a Yugoslavian missile shot down Col. Darrell P. Zelko, but he was rescued by Air Force teams on that same night.

Black Jet 3
The Black Sheep gets a new paint job similar to an F-117. (Aviation Geek Club)

In 2003, the 8th Fighter Squadron returned to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. They targeted locations where Saddam Hussein was believed to hide. When the Iraqi forces responded to the bombings in Baghdad, the Nighthawk pilots had already completed their mission and departed.

The Black Sheep continued flying the F-117 until 2008, when the squadron was inactivated. The Nighthawk was retired to storage at Tonopah Test Range, Nevada. The F-117 and the squadron remained active in other roles. The 8th returned in 2009 as an F-22 fighter squadron. It was retired again in 2011 and then reactivated as an F-16 training squadron in 2o17.

Preserving History: The Future of the Black Jet

The F-117 reappeared around 2020, serving as an aggressor aircraft in large-scale exercises like Sentry Savannah and Red Flag. Around 45 Nighthawks can fly or be revived, and the Air Force plans to keep them operational for testing and training until 2034.

Share This:
About SOFREP News Team View All Posts

More from SOFREP


There are on this article.

You must become a subscriber or login to view or post comments on this article.


Barrett Firearms

Barrett is the world leader in long-range, large-caliber, precision rifle design and manufacturing. Barrett products are used by civilians, sport shooters, law enforcement agencies, the United States military, and more than 75 State Department-approved countries around the world.

Scrubba Wash Bag

Our ultra-portable washing machine makes your journey easier. This convenient, pocket-sized travel companion allows you to travel lighter while helping you save money, time and water.

Pyramyd Air

Our roots in shooting sports started off back in 1996 with our founder and CEO, Josh Ungier. His love of airguns took hold of our company from day one and we became the first e-commerce retailer dedicated to airguns, optics, ammo, and accessories. Over the next 25 years, customers turned to us for our unmatched product selection, great advice, education, and continued support of the sport and airgun industry.


RecPak is a meal replacement for the outdoors that saves you weight, space and time in the most challenging environments, just add water.


Learn More