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25 years after The Storm

U.S. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft from the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, Tonopah Test Range, Nevada, line the runway while deploying to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft from the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, Tonopah Test Range, Nevada, line the runway while deploying to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

An aerial view of an Allied military encampment during Operation Desert Storm. Over 670,000 troops from 28 countries supported this phase of the Persian Gulf War, making it the largest air campaign since the conflict in Southeast Asia. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

An aerial view of an Allied military encampment during Operation Desert Storm. Over 670,000 troops from 28 countries supported this phase of the Persian Gulf War, making it the largest air campaign since the conflict in Southeast Asia. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

A U.S. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft from the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aircraft from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing. The Nighthawk is en route to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

A U.S. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft from the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aircraft from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing. The Nighthawk is en route to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

A U.S. Air Force F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft takes off on its return flight to the United States following its deployment during Operation Desert Storm. Desert Storm marks the first conflict in history to use stealth and space systems in integrated air defense, which revolutionized the technology used in today’s wars. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

A U.S. Air Force F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft takes off on its return flight to the United States following its deployment during Operation Desert Storm. Desert Storm marks the first conflict in history to use stealth and space systems in integrated air defense, which revolutionized the technology used in today’s wars. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Joe Bowley, a pilot with the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing sits in the cockpit of a U.S. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft while getting ready for the flight home after Operation Desert Storm. The attacks during Operation Desert Storm neutralized over 700 Iraqi combat aircraft and heavily damaged critical military support networks including command and control centers, communications and intelligence capabilities, integrated air defenses and power generation centers. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Joe Bowley, a pilot with the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing sits in the cockpit of a U.S. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter aircraft while getting ready for the flight home after Operation Desert Storm. The attacks during Operation Desert Storm neutralized over 700 Iraqi combat aircraft and heavily damaged critical military support networks including command and control centers, communications and intelligence capabilities, integrated air defenses and power generation centers. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

F-117 stealth fighter aircraft of the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing stand on the flight line with canopies raised following their return from Saudi Arabia where they took part in Operation Desert Storm. More than 30 aircraft types flew over 69,000 sorties propelling the Air Force to dominate and maintain control of the air domain. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

F-117 stealth fighter aircraft of the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing stand on the flight line with canopies raised following their return from Saudi Arabia where they took part in Operation Desert Storm. More than 30 aircraft types flew over 69,000 sorties propelling the Air Force to dominate and maintain control of the air domain. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - -- It was a clear, dark night over Baghdad.

An invisible predator slipped through the enemy's defenses and locked onto its prey with laser-guided precision.

With a press of a button, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm.

The 2,000 pound bomb soared through the night sky toward its target -- hammering into the heart of Baghdad and destroying Saddam Hussein's main communications center. The bombing raid of Jan. 17, 1991 introduced a new and sinister bird of prey, the F-117 Nighthawk, as well as ushering a new phase in the Gulf War.        

Operation Desert Storm was a 39-country coalition effort to liberate the Middle Eastern country of Kuwait after Iraq invaded and annexed the country. Over 670,000 troops from 28 countries participated in this phase of the Persian Gulf War; about 425,000 of them were U.S. troops. Advancements in technology accompanied them and kept the battle in our favor.

It wasn't known to the world until the bombing of Baghdad on Jan. 17, 1991, but the United States had created a weapon ahead of its time -- radar-invisible, precision-bombing attack aircraft that revolutionized tactics for the military. The F-117 Nighthawk would be used extensively until the end of Operation Desert Storm, and would find its home at Holloman AFB, N.M. in the meantime.

On Feb. 4, 1991, an announcement stating the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing at Holloman would inactivate, and the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing with its F-117's would move to Holloman. Later, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merril McPeak decided to retain the historical integrity of the 49th and allowed Holloman to keep the name. Holloman continued to provide the aircraft and Airmen necessary to sustain air superiority until the coalition victory on April 6, 1991.  

Throughout and since Operation Desert Storm, Holloman has continued to serve the United States by providing unparalleled air power and teams of Airmen capable of carrying out the Air Force's mission. 


Information from an Air Force document was used in this article.