Designed by The Art Institute of Las
PROJECT HAVE BLUE
Groom Lake, Nevada
In 1969 the Lockheed Skunkworks was already preparing for it bidding on the
development of the first stealth plane that wouldn’t occur until 1977. Utilizing
it’s connection to Groom Lake via the CIA A-12 Project Oxcart, engineers were
bringing their early prototype to the RCS Radar Cross Section facility of EG&G
Special Projects for RCS scans. Consequential to Lockheed’s early testing, when
the early 1977 contract was entered into with the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) for the construction of two 60-percent scale flyable
Test aircraft under a project named Have Blue, Lockheed was able to build and
deliver two planes using off the shelf components in only a few months. The
first plane was intended to evaluate the type’s flying characteristics, whereas
the second was to evaluate the radar signature. The Have Blue prototype first
flew in December 1977, paving the way for the F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber.
Shortly after the Have Blue contract was let, the project was transferred
over to Air Force System Command control and became highly "black,"
with all information about it being highly classified and restricted to those
with a need to know. Outside of a few people at Lockheed and the Defense
Department, no one knew Have Blue even existed. The codename "Have";
identified this being a USAF AFSC (Air Force Systems Command) project.
The first flight of the Have Blue took place in January or February of 1978. On
May 4, 1978, Have Blue prototype number 1001, piloted by Lockheed test pilot
Bill Park, was landing after a routine test flight when it hit the ground
excessively hard, jamming the right main landing gear in a semi-retracted
position. Pilot Bill Park pulled the aircraft back into the air, and repeatedly
tried to shake the gear back down again. After his third attempt failed, he was
ordered to take the aircraft up to 10,000 feet and eject. Park ejected
successfully, but he hit his head and was knocked unconscious. Since he was
unable to control his parachute during descent or landing, his back was severely
injured on impact. He survived, but was forced to retire from flying. The Have
Blue aircraft was destroyed in the crash, and the wreckage secretly buried
somewhere on the Nellis Test Range complex.
Have Blue 1002 arrived at Groom Lake shortly after the loss of number 1. It took
to the air for the first time in June of 1978, Lt. Col. Ken Dyson being at the
controls. From mid-1978 until early 1979, Lt. Col. Dyson flew more than 65 test
sorties, testing the response of the aircraft to various types of radar threats.
The Have Blue prototype 1002 proved to be essentially undetectable by all
airborne radars except the Boeing E-3 AWACS, which could only acquire the
aircraft at short ranges. Most ground-based missile tracking radars could detect
the Have Blue only after it was well inside the minimum range for the
surface-to-air missiles with which they were associated. Neither ground-based
radars nor air-to-air missile guidance radars could lock onto the aircraft.
Have Blue number 1002 was lost in July of 1979. During its 52nd flight, with Lt.
Col. Dyson at the controls, one of its J85 engines caught fire. The subsequent
intense fire burned through the hydraulic fluid lines, forcing Lt. Col. Dyson
was to eject. Have Blue #1002 was a total loss, and consequently, also secretly
buried on the Nellis test range complex. No further Have Blue aircraft were
built since the general concept had been proven.
Specifications of the Have Blue (approximate)
Two non-afterburning General Electric J85 turbojets
Maximum speed: 600 mph at sea level.
wing span 22 feet 0 inches,
length 38 feet 0 inches, height 7 feet 6 inches.
Gross weight 12,000 pounds.
No armament was carried.
Most other details are still classified.