Military history: how two Nighthawk stealth fighters tried to fly over Austria unnoticed

In the Austrian magazine Airpower, details of an unusual story that happened on October 18, 2002 were published. On this day, the United States Air Force requested overflight clearance for a DC-10 transport aircraft piloted by a German crew.

However, after issuing the permit, the Austrian authorities suspected that something was wrong, since the aircraft number DC-10 actually belonged to the tanker aircraft. In addition, the registration data for this flight changed twice in a short time.

To clarify the situation, the command of the Austrian Air Force sent two Swedish-made Draken fighters for reconnaissance. Seeing the "inspectors", the American plane quickly deviated from its original flight path.

Having caught up with the intruder, the fighter pilots discovered a "forgery": instead of the declared commercial DC-10, they saw a military tanker KS-10 created on its base, which was accompanied by two undeclared F-117A "Nighthawk" stealth fighters. There were no requests for their transit - but Austria would not have given such permission. In accordance with the instructions, the Austrian pilots photographed the whole warm "company".

The circumstances of this strange scam were revealed later. At that time, the US Air Force was actively involved in the hostilities in Afghanistan and at the same time was preparing for the invasion of Iraq. Due to their short flight range, the F-117A could not fly there from European bases without refueling.

Five months later, the American operation in the Persian Gulf began, and it is likely that two Austrian Nighthawks became part of the armada that sprayed Saddam Hussein's regime.