The shoot-down of an F-117 Nighthawk over Yugoslavia, callsign “Vega 31,” is an amazing story unto itself, and it has been claimed that the stealth jet’s wreckage greatly helped foreign countries advance their own stealth technology know-how. It has even led to some unlikely friendships. Now EBay seller “Kols293” claims to have some part of the doomed F-117 in their possession, and it’s for sale right now.
Here’s the seller’s description for the aerospace relic as:
Here you have the original part of the F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber which crashed in village Budjanovci in Serbia on 27th March 1999. This is the ultimate Nighthawk souvenir since the stealth coating was one of the biggest secrets of the US Air Force. Also, China`s J-20 5th get stealth fighter is based on this technology. The part itself consists of many layers of which the mate black is the stealth one. Also, the grid in the back is 1x1 cm so you can see what is the actual size of the part. The part belongs to the upper part of the aft wing of the aircraft. As for authenticity, in order to further prove the origin of this part, I have created a certificate with my personal signature which goes together with the part.
Shipping is worldwide, and please don`t hesitate to contact me for more questions.
Amazingly, the seller comes right out and says this is a piece of the radar absorbent material (RAM) that was intrinsic to the F-117’s ability to evade radar. The substance is also known to be a tightly guarded secret, although the F-117 has been out of front-line service for the better part of a decade now, and the RAM used on its outer skin was upgraded periodically over its lifetime.
RAM coatings, and aircraft parts made out of certain composites, are known to be highly toxic, especially when burnt. I have heard in interviews and been told by some Air Force insiders that those who breathed the fumes and touched parts of the Vega 31’s smoldering carcass would probably get gravely sick in not so many years due to the aircraft’s toxic nature. So it is not clear whether this piece, if it really is a piece of an F-117, is even safe to handle.
The broken cockpit canopy and wing-section of Vega 31 remains on display at the Belgrade Aviation Museum today. By looking at pictures of the wing on display, the piece on eBay does look like the real deal, as you can see exactly what other broken areas look like. We also know that the Vega 31 wreckage site was looted to some degree by locals, with people breaking off small pieces of the jet as souvenirs.
They say you can find virtually anything on eBay, now they can add a piece of a once top-secret Lockheed Skunk Works stealth attack jet to the list. Now as to who would really want to buy, ship and take possession of this thing, that is another story.
As of now, the listing has zero bidders with a start price of $159 and a buy-it-now price of $210.
Photo credits: AP, pictures of the specimen via ebay listing, top shot via Jim Murphy/wikicommons license 3.0 (ebay logo added by Foxtrot Alpha).