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In 1964, Pyotr Ufimtsev, a Soviet mathematician, published a seminal paper titled Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction in the journal of the Moscow Institute for Radio Engineering, in which he showed that the strength of the radar return from an object is related to its edge configuration, not its size. Ufimtsev was extending theoretical work published by the German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld. Ufimtsev demonstrated that he could calculate the radar cross-section across a wing's surface and along its edge. The obvious and logical conclusion was that even a large aircraft could be made difficult to see by radar by exploiting this principle. However, the airplane's design would make it aerodynamically unstable, and the state of computer technology in the early 1960s could not provide the kinds of flight computers which would later allow aircraft such as the F-117 and B-2 Spirit to stay airborne. By the 1970s, when Lockheed analyst Denys Overholser found Ufimtsev's paper, computers and software had advanced significantly, and the stage was set for the development of a stealthy airplane.

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The 1999 F-117A shootdown was an event that took place on 27 March 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia , (Operation Allied Force, Operation Noble Anvil), when an Army of Yugoslavia unit used an S-125 Neva/Pechora to down a Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft of the United States Air Force . The pilot ejected and was rescued by search and rescue forces. [1]

The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft that was developed by Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works division and operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). The F-117 was based on the Have Blue technology demonstrator, and was the first operational aircraft to be designed around stealth technology . The maiden flight of the Nighthawk took place in 1981, and the aircraft achieved initial operating capability status in 1983. [1] The Nighthawk was shrouded in secrecy until it was revealed to the public in 1988. [4]