What Is The Aircraft Carrier Silhouette In Northrop’s New Bomber Ad?

Credit: Northrop Grumman

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What is the silhouette of the aircraft carrier shown in Northrop Grumman’s latest ad for stealthy bombers?

Defense Editor Steve Trimble responds: 

French culture inspires beauty, sophisticated cuisine and, occasionally, factual errors by U.S.-based aerospace companies. Aviation Week, which once inadvertently published an upside-down French flag on a cover, understands this better than most.

Northrop posted a marketing video on YouTube on April 23 to highlight the value of stealthy bombers in the U.S. Air Force’s long-range strike portfolio. To make a point, Northrop contrasted the strike packages required for Operation El Dorado Canyon against Libya in 1986 with the air strike on the same country in January 2017. 

For the former example, Northrop presented the silhouettes of the strike package that included tankers, F-111s and A-6s. It appears Northrop mistakenly used silhouettes of F-4s instead of A-6s. But that’s not the worst mistake in the video: The company also showed the silhouettes of two aircraft carriers, which launched and recovered the 18 A-6s during the operation. 

Instead of showing the silhouettes of the Kitty Hawk- and Midway-class carriers that participated in the 1986 operation, however, Northrop’s video presented two silhouettes of the Charles de Gaulle, the pride of the French Navy. 

This was unfortunate not only because the carrier belongs to the wrong navy, but also because the Charles de Gaulle did not enter service until 15 years after the Libyan air strikes. More awkwardly, U.S. planning for Operation El Dorado Canyon was made vastly more complicated because the French government refused overflight access. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.


You missed the silhouette of the F-16; it looks like a Harrier. This is what happens when an ad agency is placed on "auto pilot".
What F-16? Last time i checked the US did not have F-16 tankers. It is a very poor rendition of a KA-6D.
Check out the video.
Not the only ones to err. In Beijing I once saw two posters urging support of the nation's military, one army and one navy. The navy poster showed an aircraft carrier head-on---and very clearly a U.S. one!