Q: Can you just give me a capsule contrast between the image of the Stealth bombers and the reality of this plane.
Atkinson: Well, the Stealth fighter had been in development secretly for many years in California. It was built by Lockheed in the 'skunk works' as they called it, where they did their secret projects. And the essence of the airplane was that it was built with a variety of materials and shapes which were radar elusive. It was not invisible but it was very difficult for enemy radars to get a fix on this plane. The claims for the plane in terms of its radar elusiveness were by and large accurate. The claims for the plane in terms of its accuracy as a bomber were not particularly accurate. In the first five days of the war, for example , Stealth fighters, the F117A, dropped a hundred and sixty-seven laser guided bombs. Seventy-six of those bombs missed. The plane was able to get in and out of Iraqi airspace without ever suffering a scratch. Quite remarkable given the intensity of Iraqi air defenses. Nevertheless trying to put one particular bomb on a particular target was something that the Stealth fighter had as much trouble as any of the other precision bombers that the Americans had.
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