Friday, April 01, 2016

You See, It's In the Fine Print

You don't hear much about it except periodic references in military and aviation journals. One (hyphenated) word: "multi-band." It's the key to effective stealth cloaking. It's the successor to the single-band stealth cloaking of the no longer particularly effective F-35 light strike bomber.

The magic of the F-35 - encapsulated in its shaping and coatings - is aimed at defeating X-band radars. That was a fine idea 20 years ago when the military world was X-band centric. The problem is that radar comes in a number of flavours - different bands - and that is the F-35's radar Achilles' Heel.

So now, years before the F-35 testing is complete and the finished model actually enters service, the market wants multi-band radar absorption technology. What do these things look like? Well, most of them have one feature in common, this:

America's XB-48

See what's missing? Tail surfaces. Here's Britain's prototype, the Taranis:

Here's the French prototype, the nEUROn:

These are obviously unmanned, drones or UCAVs (unmanned air combat fighters). The jury is out on whether there's still a role for a piloted aircraft but they can work in a manned configuration also. There's even talk of a dual-mode, manned or unmanned, option.

But what about the old stuff? Oh yeah, it looks like this:

Whatever were they thinking way back then? Crazy, man. Sort of like sending cavalry into a tank battle.


Anonymous said...

Stealth is built on electronics /computers ; yes the shape matters but not so much as the electronics.
Shape takes a long time to refine; computer programming takes seconds.
No sooner has enemy A produced a radar xyz attack system then the defendant produces product B in a relatively short time.
We are witnessing the military industrial complex on an unprecedented scale.
I don't think our predecessors could even envisioned the rapid consument of our resources , environment ; than the desire for weapons now takes from our tax dollar and more importantly from our humanity.

The Mound of Sound said...

Electronics are but one part of the stealth platform. Shaping is another and it's huge. Tail surfaces are a telltale, a give away. With the F-35, so too is its terrible heat signature. The third aspect of stealth is radar absorbing/dispersing coatings. The F-35's coatings blister at high speed. It also has frontal-aspect only stealth cloaking. It's not remotely invisible from above, below, either side and, especially, from behind. Lacking supercruise and fuel-limited, it's easy meat for pursuers as it egresses the enemy's airspace. Target it from the side, force it to turn to evade and it's dead meat.

And, yes, it's an obscene waste of money that could be put to far better purposes.

Steve said...

I say again, princess in the hanger, turkey in the air.