Stealth Technology

Edited by Irfan Khan, Jen Moreau, Sharingknowledge, SarMal

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Stealth Obsession

The term stealth is defined as covert or concealed movement. When used to refer to warships, fighter aircraft, and submarines, stealth is similarly characterized as reduced visibility of modern aircraft in visual, audio, infrared and radio frequency spectrum. Presently, stealth technology continues to be extensively researched and progressed by scientists and engineers. The most powerful nations of the world including USA and Russia have spent billions of dollars to develop and promote stealth technology.

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Figure.1- Stealth aircraft F-117 Nighthawk

Radar Technology

During World War II, radar was a revolutionary technology. Luftwaffe air crafts were detected through radar technology by the British army, which helped the British to launch defense mechanisms. Since WWII, radar technology has played a significant role in modern warfare.

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Radar functions as an object identification system. The words radar is an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging. Radar transmits electromagnetic (radio) waves via an antenna through the air until the waves collide with an object. Once the waves collide with an object, the wave is reflected back to the antenna. The reflected signals are processed to estimate the size, geometry and exact position of the object from the radar source. Radar technology can detect the moving velocity of any object. An example of this detection and signal process is the use of radar guns by police to apprehend speeding motorists. Radar is also used in space, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is installed in space shuttles and satellites to generate comprehensive topographic maps of earth and other planets.

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Figure.2- Working principle of Radar signals

Stealth Technology

Stealth technology combines the ability of radar to detect and analyze with the concealment unique to stealth technology. Stealth technology is used in air crafts to evade radar signals, by absorbing or deflecting the electromagnetic waves. Stealth air crafts manage to stay invisible (undetected) to radar signals in two ways:

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  1. 1
    Surface of the Aircraft
    .
    Aircrafts with round surfaces reflect signals back to the radar (source). Stealth air crafts are engineered with flat surfaces and sharp angles that are able to deflect the radar signals away from the source, making themselves invisible.
    Figure. 3- Deflection of Radar waves from a stealth aircraft
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  2. 2
    Materials
    .
    Radar Absorbing Materials (RAM) are used to coat the aircraft structures, which block the radar signals by absorbing the electromagnetic radar waves.
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  3. 3
    Iron ball paints
    :
    Iron ball paints are among the primary class of stealth materials. These paints are composed of iron microparticles coated with the ferrous carbonyl.  
    1. Superficial wave absorbers: Elastomers loaded with magnetic particles are applied to the metallic surface to absorb the maximum waves without reflecting them back.
    2. Foam absorbers: Foam absorbers are composed of conductive carbon loaded gradient coatings. These coatings result in broadband of radar absorbing films which absorb the radar signals efficiently.
    3. Tuned frequency absorbers: These are resonant frequency absorbers, which have prominent reflection loss at particular frequencies.
    4. Low-frequency absorbers: These absorbers contain magnetic particles with high permeability. Low-frequency absorbers show high wave-loss at low (microwave) frequencies.
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Figure.4- Working mechanism of Radar absorbing materials

Advantages of Stealth Technology

  1. 1
    Efficiency can be increased while in a war zone when stealth vehicles are used in place of conventional vehicles, providing long term fiscal savings
    .
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  2. 2
    Strikes from a stealth fighter aircraft prevent enemies from initiating attacks and as enemies are unable to locate them stealth weapons are utilized as intimidation fleets
    .
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  3. 3
    Decline in casualty rates is achievable using stealth technology in warfare
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Disadvantages of Stealth Technology

  1. 1
    Compared to conventional aircrafts, stealth aircrafts are less agile and lack efficient maneuverability
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  2. 2
    Stealth aircraft have lower payload or carrying capacity than the conventional aircraft
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  3. 3
    The biggest disadvantage of a stealth aircraft is its high cost
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    Fighter aircraft such as B-2 ($2 billion) and F-22 ($100 million) are the most expensive aircraft in the world.
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Stealth Technology. (2017). In ScienceAid. Retrieved Oct 23, 2017, from https://scienceaid.net/Stealth_Technology

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Article Info

Categories : Engineering

Recent edits by: Sharingknowledge, Jen Moreau, Irfan Khan

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