Stealth Technology

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Stealth technology (ST) makes military personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, missiles, and ground vehicles less visible (ideally invisible) to radar, infrared, and heat-seeking detection methods. Its basis is in the physics of electromagnetic waves, particularly radar waves.

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This review article intensively examines the working principle of ST and different carbon-based composites as radar absorbing materials.

The F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor is the world’s most lethal fifth-generation fighter jet. The USAF’s cutting-edge jet, developed in a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, features advanced stealth technologies and can fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburners or needing to be refueled.

The key to a fighter’s stealth is its radar signature—the amount of radiation it gives off that can be detected by radar devices. The F-22’s body is designed with continuous curves, which scatter radio waves as they hit its surface. This reduces the amount of energy the waves can transfer and increases how much they reflect.

Adding to the F-22’s stealthy design is its use of composites and titanium. Composites are used for the fuselage frame and wings, while titanium is used in critical stress areas to increase strength and improve heat resistance. The F-22 also has a honeycomb sandwich construction skin, which helps reduce drag.

One interesting feature of the F-22 is its cockpit. The Air Force made sure that it was hidden from radar while maintaining a clear field of view for the pilot. Other stealth aircraft hide the cockpit with a canopy or other structures, but the F-22’s cockpit is clearly visible.

The F-22 can perform a variety of missions, including serving as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform. It can carry two 1,000-pound bombs internally, and it can even strike moving targets from 50,000 feet at a cruising speed of Mach 1.5. It’s also equipped with a number of air-to-ground systems, including lasers and sensors.

The F-35 서울흥신소 Joint Strike Fighter

Developed in the 21st century, this multirole fighter/strike aircraft features a range of stealth techniques, including radar cross-section reduction and radar absorbent materials. It is designed to be the lynchpin of alliance-based deterrence in the region.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the result of a massive, multibillion-dollar international cooperative defense development project involving nine countries – Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United States. The JSF program has helped control costs by channeling research and development efforts into a single platform with shared systems. Its low observable stealth design, advanced integrated avionics, supersonic speed, extended range and lethal weapons capability make it the ultimate force multiplier for air superiority missions.

In addition to its stealth technologies, the F-35 features state-of-the-art tactical data links and network-centric sensors that will allow it to communicate with other aircraft, ground and sea-based platforms as part of a future net-centric war fighting force. Its lethal strike capabilities will be the lynchpin of alliance-based air-combat deterrence in the region, replacing Australia’s aging fleet of F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets and A-10 Thunderbolt II jets.

Lockheed Martin Australia’s chief executive officer Joe North says the F-35 is an important acquisition for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). “The F-35A Lightning II will replace our aging fleet of A-10 and Classic Hornet fighter jets, and its combination of full-spectrum low-observable stealth coatings and materials, advanced radar-dispersing shaping and network-centric sensor and communications suites makes it the ultimate force multiplying fifth generation combat platform. The ADF will acquire 72 F-35As under the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B programme over the coming years.”

The SU-57 Fifth-Generation Fighter

The Su-57 is Russia’s take on a fifth-generation fighter. Its main claim to fame is its avionics suite, which Russian officials have described as being on par with the F-35’s game-changing degree of situational awareness. Its sensor array features six radars (passive electronic scanning and AFAR) integrated into the aircraft’s body, which enables 360-degree detection.

The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of missiles and bombs, with 12 internal and 6 external hardpoints for them. It has a top speed of Mach 2 and a g limit that surpasses 9.0, allowing it to easily outfly enemy aircraft. It’s armed with a 30mm autocannon, and Russia claims it has advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment including the so-called “electronic second pilot” that assumes some of the pilot’s duties.

Another notable feature of the Su-57 is its ability to launch an infrared guided missile from its internal bay. This would complement the aircraft’s stealth shaping, reducing its radar cross section and infrared signature.

However, while the Su-57 boasts a few impressive features, it’s not nearly as capable or stealthy as the other Gen 5 fighters listed above. In addition to its limited g capabilities, it relies on older engines that limit its performance and stealthiness. And despite claims of its effectiveness in Syria and Ukraine, it’s still unclear how well the Su-57 will fare against a highly trained, modernized, western military force.

The F-X Program

After the cancellation of the NATF and ATA programs, in 1991 the Navy commissioned the start of a new attack aircraft development program that became known as the A-X (for advanced attack/fighter). The A-X was designed to be a multi-mission strike aircraft that would replace the existing Navy A-6 and Air Force F-111, both of which were approaching their end of life. Like the F-22, the A-X was designed to be a highly maneuverable, long range, two engine, two crew, stealth aircraft with day/night, all weather capability, low observables and advanced integrated avionics.

The original A-X / A-F-X CE/D work was completed in 1992, and the program was originally intended to initiate a short Dem/Val phase and competitive prototyping in 1994, with EMD beginning in 1996. However, in late 1992 Congress required that the A-X Dem/Val phase include a design competition that resulted in a single winner before the start of E&MD.

The A/F-X aircraft is expected to use a new generation of engines that offer high thrust-to-weight ratios and operation at very high levels of turbine inlet temperature. It is also anticipated to utilize avionics concepts and common equipment from the F-22 program, thereby significantly reducing system integration and software development costs. A/F-X is a large, complex program, unlike any other MOD aircraft development project to date, and will require a considerable degree of collaboration with U.S. companies and other foreign governments.