‘Stealth’ doesn’t have the ring it once did, but you would be wrong for not thinking that it is still such a huge technological breakthrough. Since stealth planes became common knowledge back in the late 80s/early 90s, their fanfare has died down, leaving many to wonder whether this tech was all some kind of trend.
After all, stealth planes do not have air-to-air capabilities and are barely faster than the B-52 stealth bomber, which debuted some 30 years before the F-117 Nighthawk took to the skies in 1983. America still sees stealth as a necessary arm of its aerial dominance, while Russia and China desperately try to catch up. So it’s worth reminding about this landmark tech and how it will be changed in the future.
In the initial tests, it was found that the ‘diamond,’ was the best shape for stealth design. The diamond has facets that look away from the radar looking at it. And the facets can deflect the radar beam, preventing detection to a point. Adding radar absorbent materials, adds to the stealth performance. But diamonds are not very aerodynamic, as the F-111 showed. It was good at remaining undetected, but not vary fast and it was used in all it’s missions, mostly at night. Newer generations of stealth aircraft have evolved the stealth design capability, and construction materials, and coatings have assisted in the stealth capabilities as well. But at some point, ‘stealth,’ will reach its limitations, and then future aircraft will have to be designed with stealth being a secondary component, while speed, maneuverability, function and mission capabilities, will always be on the forefront of the design list.