Model Company To Build Kit Of Plane Air Force Denies Exists
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The Air Force denies the real thing exists, but a model kit of the radar- baffling F-19 Stealth fighter plane will be on store shelves in June, an official of Testor Corp. said Tuesday.
Ernie Petit, national sales manager for the Rockford, Ill., company, said in a telephone interview that the kit was first shown at a Chicago trade show in February.
″The government has been working on stealth technology for some time,″ said Petit, referring to attempts to design an aircraft that will not show up on radar. ″Some has been used on earlier planes, but this is newer and more refined.
″We do a tremendous amount of research,″ Petit said. ″We accumulate everything we can learn and everything that’s already published, and from the information we gather, this is our best guess of what the latest stealth fighter is.″
The Air Force denies that the designation F-19 has been assigned to any aircraft, or that a stealth fighter has been produced. The only true stealth design under development is the Advanced Technology Bomber, the Air Force says
Stealth traces its roots to the 1950s and the start of development of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, which began flying about 20 years ago. It still is considered one of the fastest, highest-flying reconnaissance planes developed.
Bill Sheetman, technical editor in North America for the Interavia Publishing Group of Geneva-Switzerland, which recently produced a book on stealth aircraft, insists Lockheed proposed a stealth fighter in 1974 and received secret funding from the Department of Defense to begin research.
He claims production was authorized in 1981 and that Lockheed is building the plane at its Burbank, Calif. plant.
The Air Force refuses to comment on Sheetman’s claims or on the Swiss book.
Petit said the kits were being packaged in Italy and will cost $9.50.
But the model won’t help anyone in the spy business.
″We think this is reasonably accurate, based on what we have learned,″ said Petit. ″But the secret isn’t in the outside shape, it’s in the inside, and even if we knew that information - and we don’t - we would never include it.″