The patches each measure 3-7/8'' x 4''. They all appear to be in mint unused condition as pictured. Below here, for reference, is some additional information about the 415th Tacical Fighter Squadron:
4450th Tactical Group
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Active: 15 October 1979 - 5 October 1989
Country: United States
Branch: United States Air Force
Role: Development of F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter
Part of: Tactical Air Command
Garrison / Headquarters: Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Operationally located at Tonopah Test Range Airport, Nevada
The 4450th Tactical Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was headquartered at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and operationally located at Tonopah Test Range Airport, Nevada. It was inactivated on 5 October 1989.
The concept of stealth aircraft was revolutionary. With a single pair of Have Blue prototypes built and tested in the late 1970s, every radar ever built had been rendered blind. The Have Blue had turned SAMs into expensive fireworks. Strategic airpower had undergone a revolution as great as that brought about by nuclear weapons.
In 1978, the Air Force awarded a full-scale development contract for the YF-117A Nighthawk to Lockheed Corporation's Advanced Development Projects. On 17 January 1981 the Lockheed test team at Area 51 accepted delivery of the first full Scale Development (FSD) prototype #79 - 780, designated YF - 117A. At 6:05 AM on June 18, 1981 Lockheed Skunk Works test pilot Hal Farley lifted the nose of YF-117A #79 - 780 off the runway of Area 51.
Meanwhile, Tactical Air Command (TAC) decided to set up a group level organization to guide the F-117A to an initial operating capability. That organization became the 4450th Tactical Group (Initially designated ''A Unit''), which officially activated on 15 October 1979 at Nellis AFB, Nevada, although the group was physically located at Groom Lake (Area 51), Nevada. The 4450th TG also operated the A-7D Corsair II as a surrogate trainer for the F-117A, and these operations continued until 15 October 1982 under the guise of an avionics test mission.
Flying squadrons of the 4450th TG were the 4450th Tactical Squadron (Initially designated ''I Unit'') activated on 11 June 1981, and 4451st Tactical Squadron (Initially designated ''P Unit'') on 15 January 1983. The 4450th TS, stationed at Area 51, was the first F-117A squadron, while the 4451st TS was stationed at Nellis AFB and was equipped with A-7D Corsair IIs painted in a dark motif, tail coded ''LV''. Lockheed test pilots put the YF-117 through its early paces. A-7Ds was used for pilot training before any F-117A's had been delivered by Lockheed to Area 51, later the A-7D's were used for F-117A chase testing and other weapon tests at the Nellis Range. 15 October 1982 is important to the program because on that date Major Alton C. Whitley, Jr. became the first 4450th TG pilot to fly the F-117A. The 4450th TG then achieved an initial operating capability with the F-117A in October 1983.
By early 1982, four more YF-117A airplanes were operating out of the southern end of the base, known as the ''Southend'' or ''Baja Groom Lake''. After finding a large scorpion in their offices, the testing team (Designated ''R Unit'') adopted it as their mascot and dubbed themselves the ''Baja Scorpions''. Testing of a series of ultra secret prototypes continued at Area 51 until mid 1981, when testing transitioned to the initial production of F-117 stealth fighters. The F-117s were moved to and from Area 51 by C-5 under the cloak of darkness, in order to maintain program security. This meant that the aircraft had to be defueled, disassembled, cradled, and then loaded aboard the C-5 at night, flown to Lockheed, and unloaded at night before the real work could begin. Of course, this meant that the reverse actions had to occur at the end of the depot work before the aircraft could be reassembled, flight tested, and redelivered, again under the cover of darkness. In addition to flight testing, Groom performed radar profiling, F-117 weapons testing, and was the location for training of the first group of frontline USAF F-117 pilots.
Production FSD airframes from Lockheed were shipped to Area 51 for acceptance testing. As the Baja Scorpions tested the aircraft with functional check flights and L.O. verification, the operational airplanes were then transferred to the 4450th TG. The R-Unit was inactivated on 30 May 1989. Upon deactivated the unit was reformed as reformed as Detachment 1, 57th Fighter Weapons Wing (FWW). In 1990 the last F-117A (#843) was delivered from Lockheed. After completion of acceptance flights at Area 51 of this last new F-117A aircraft, the flight test squadron continued flight test duties of refurbished aircraft after modifications by Lockheed. In February - March 1992 the test unit moved from Area 51 to the USAF Palmdale Plant 42 and was integrated with the Air Force Systems Command 6510th Test Squadron. Some testing, especially RCS verification and other classified activity was still conducted at Area 51 throughout the operational lifetime of the F-117. The recently inactivated (2008) 410th Flight Test Squadron traces its roots, if not its formal lineage to the 4450th TG R-unit.
Tonopah Test Range Airport
Although ideal for testing, the Area 51 test site was not a suitable location for an operational base, so a new covert base had to be established for F-117 operations. Tonopah Test Range Airport was selected for operations of the first USAF F-117 unit, the 4450th Tactical Group (TG). From October 1979, the Tonopah Airport base was reconstructed and expanded. The 6,000 foot runway was lengthened to 10,000 feet. Taxiways, a concrete apron, a large maintenance hangar, and a propane storage tank were added. On 17 May 1982, the move of the 4450th TG from Groom Lake to Tonoaph was initiated, with the final components of the move completed in early 1983.
The 4450th TG's mission continued to evolve under a cloak of secrecy, as all Tonopah training flights conducted at night under the cover of darkness until late 1988. With more production F-117s aircraft being delivered by Lockheed, the 4453d Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) (''Z Unit'') was activated on 4 October 1985 at Tonopah.
The 4450th, on at least two occasions prepared the F-117 for operational missions. The aircraft were primed and ready to go only to be called off. The 4450th TG did deploy at least once to foreign soil for exercises. The 4450th TG also had the unique distinction of being the last active USAF unit to operate the A-7D Corsair II.
During October 1983, the U.S. government ordered the Department of Defense to plan an attack on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and PLO sympathizers - terrorists in Southern Lebanon in response to the destruction of the U.S. Marine barracks at Beirut Airport. The Seventh Fleet in the Mediterranean was moved into position off the coast of Lebanon and the 4450th at Tonopah TTR was put on alert. Five to seven F-117A aircraft were armed and their Internal Navigation Systems systems aligned to targets in the area. The plan called for the F-117As to fly from Tonopah TTR to Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, were they would be put in hangars. They would wait 48 hours for the crew to rest and then fly the aircraft non stop from Myrtle Beach to southern Lebanon. The attack was planned against positively identified locations of the terrorist groups that were known to be responsible for the car bomb and the deaths of 183 Marines of the peace keeping force in Beirut. Caspar Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense, decided to scrub the mission just forty-five minutes before the aircraft were to take off for Myrtle Beach. The F-117As were taken off alert, disarmed and had their INS systems reprogrammed for training purposes.
Operation Team Spirit 1984
In early 1984 the P-unit A-7D's deployed to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea to participate in Team Spirit 1984. The word was purposely leaked that the 4450th TG A-7Ds were carrying supersecret atomic antiradar devices that would render the airplane invisible. To maintain the deception, each A-7D was outfitted with old napalm canisters painted black with a flashing red danger light in the rear. The canisters carried a radiation warning tag over an ominous looking slot on which was printed: ''Reactor Cooling Fill Port''. When the 4450th TG deployed carrying these bogus devices, Air Police closed down the base and ringed the field with machine gun toting jeeps. They forced all the runway personal to turn their backs to the A-7s as they taxied past, and actually had them spread eagled on the deck with their eyes closed until the 4450th TG A7s took off.
Operation El Dorado
By 28 February 1986 Lockheed had delivered 33 F-117As, giving the Air Force two operational squadrons of F-117As. During this time, Libya's Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi had been challenging the U.S. Navy for about a year and a half and had also sponsored a number of terrorist activities in Europe. After a few aerial incidents which resulted in the loss of a number of Libyan aircraft, and a terrorist attack in West Germany that was positively linked by the United States to Libya, the U.S. government decided to strike back. On 15 April 1986 a bombing raid was planned under the code name Operation El Dorado Canyon. The F-117A was identified as the best suited weapons system for the mission. Although senior officers at Tactical Air Command knew of the F-117A's capabilities, the theater commanders knew nothing of its capabilities or even that it existed. As a result, the raid was carried out using carrier based Navy A-6 Intruders, A-7 Corsair IIs, F/A-18 Hornets, and USAF F-111s assigned to the USAFE 48th TFW at RAF Lakenheath, England. Once again, the F-117As were within less than one hour from launch when Caspar Weinberger scrubbed the mission. He felt that the aircraft was too valuable to risk on such insignificant targets and the F-117A's participation in the raid was canceled.
In 1979, public leaks about the stealth fighter began to appear, but at the time it was little more than gossip. During the summer of 1980, the pace of stealth leaks picked up. In the week of August 10, Aviation Week and Space Technology, the Washington Post, and ABC News all carried stories on stealth. (Up to this point, the popular press had ignored stealth). The stories said that stealth technology was being developed for several types of aircraft, including bombers. They reported that it used RAM and curved surfaces to reduce the radar return.(The latter was entirely inaccurate).
1980 was an election year and 0n August 22, 1980, Defense Secretary Harold Brown held a press conference: ''...I am announcing today a major technological advance of great military significance. This so-called 'stealth' technology enables the United States to build manned and unmanned aircraft that cannot be successfully intercepted with existing air defense systems. We have demonstrated to our satisfaction that the technology works''. The Brown press conference set off a firestorm of charges by Republicans that the Carter Administration was using stealth technology to curry voters in the wake of the Iran Hostage Crisis and the failure of the Desert One rescue mission. However, the fact was that the public disclosure of the concept and possibilities of stealth aircraft, which few in the public and press could understand, did not change the outcome of the November 1980 election.
The incoming Reagan administration increased the secrecy surrounding the stealth program. Although several projects would remain unknown for a decade and more, the effort was not entirely successful with the stealth fighter. In large part to the 1980 announcement by Secretary Brown, aerospace circles published speculative articles, By 1983, artists' conceptions of the ''F-19'' began to appear (F-19 was the speculative name of the aircraft, since the F-18 was the Navy derivative of the F-17, and Northrup used the F-20 designation for its privately funded F-5 replacement).The general pattern was a long SR-71 like fuselage, elliptical wings at the rear, a bubblecanopy, canards, and twin inward canted fins. As it was now known the SR-71 had a reduced RCS, it was assumed the ''F-19 Stealth Fighter'' was similar. Among those following the stealth story was the Testers Corporation. In 1985, they began work on a conceptual model of the F-19. Although the erroneous reports effectively hid the true information, it was clear that the wall of secrecy around the F-117A was breaking down. An August 22, 1986, Washington Post story said that about fifty aircraft were operational, that the F-19 designation was incorrect, and that the plane was described as ''ugly'' due to its bulging, nontraditional shape. The plane's base was also identified as being Tonopah.
In January 1988, Armed Forces Journal revealed the aircraft's actual designation was the F-117 Nighthawk. More important, the ''big secret'' of stealth, faceting, was starting to leak out. In 1986, there were reports that the F-19 was not smooth, but ratherhad ''a multi faceted outer body surface'' and a ''cut diamond exterior''. This was described as being thousands of flat surfaces, none more than eight square inches in size, which did not share the same ''reflectivity angle''. The F-117A actually used large panels, but the basic principle was the same.