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From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Does the F117 have a tailhook?
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 1997 16:35:16 GMT wrote:

>> I don't diasagree about the F-117 not having a tailhook. However, according to
>> Clancy's Fighter Wing, the F-15 has a tailhook. However I have no idea what it
>> is used for, as the gear are not string enough for cats and traps.
>They are used in emergencies and, I imagine, in war.  Suppose if your
>runways are damaged, would you rather end air operations or reduce your
>landing length with a tailhook?

Tail hooks on USAF aircraft aren't generally used for "traps," and
with the exception of the F-4 and A-7 which were originally Navy
aircraft designs, they aren't even used in the USAF for approach-end

The tailhooks, which have been in all tactical aircraft since the
Century Series, are used for departure end emergencies. The hook is
deployed during high speed abort situations or landing roll-out
emergencies like drag-chute failure, brake failure, utility hydraulic
failure or icy runway. The hook engages a cable rather than running
the aircraft into a "jet barrier" type webbing. Less damage, quicker
recycle time, etc.

The hooks are generally spring loaded and retained by explosive bolt
until deployed. They are not hydraulically controlled and once
extended they must be re-cocked by maintenance.

The F-4 and A-7 had Navy style tail hooks, hydraulically controllable
from the cockpit and adequate for approach-end engagement, although
arresting gear on land runways provides for about three times the
runout of a carrier trap. USAF used the system for heavyweight
landings such as with retained ordinance as well as for a number of
emergency situations which resulted in reduced directional control on

 Ed Rasimus                 *** Peak Computing Magazine
    Fighter Pilot (ret)     ***    (
                            *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                            ***    (

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