Whilst stealthy built aircraft have (or claim to have) many anti-detection systems, they seem to have to compromise on less maneuverability features, and even have to keep their missiles inside, not on the outside.

Why is it so these days?

Based on the above what could be the tendency for the future military aircraft (the jet fighters in particular)?

  • $\begingroup$ this is a very similar question I have just seen now: $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ Some stealth aircraft are bombers, do you want to discuss only about jet fighters right? $\endgroup$
    – jean
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ I was really only thinking about the the jet fighters $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 10:54
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Then stealth has nothing to do with it. You are comparing apples to oranges. The SU-37 is much more maneuverable than many other fighters, whether or not they happen to be stealth is irrelevant $\endgroup$
    – DeepSpace
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 12:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I thought that to make them stealth they had to compromise on the manoeuvrability $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 12:58

3 Answers 3


Radar stealth is achieved by carefully designing the aircraft to reflect radar waves in specific directions. It helps to keep the aircraft shape as simple as possible.

External weapons make this more complex: each missile adds a large number of surfaces that can reflect radar. The missile can also interact with the airplane fuselage to reflect radar waves several times. And once the missile has been launched it leaves an empty pylon behind with yet more surfaces capable of reflection.
It's much easier to maintain stealth if the missiles are stored inside the aircraft.

Some aircraft (e.g. the F-117) also try to achieve IR stealth by hiding the exhaust, mixing the exhaust gases with air etc. This is difficult to combine with vectored thrust.

Still, an aircraft like the F-22 has pretty good maneuverability, thanks to good aerodynamics and huge amounts of engine power.

The Su-37 uses vectored thrust and canards (again, extra reflection surfaces) to achieve high maneuverability.

So, there's a tradeoff going on. Do you want to blow your enemy out of the sky before he's seen you (which requires stealth)? Or do you focus on close combat (where maneuverability is most important)?


Short answer: There is no reason that a low observable aircraft should suffer in maneuverability, if properly designed, and the F-22 and YF-23 are proof of concept.

LO does favor specific shapes which both minimize the amount of radar energy reflected back to a transceiver as well as provide good aerodynamic qualities. Weapons carriage must be done internally in order to prevent compromising this shape and increasing the aircraft's RCS. LO aircraft also possess an additional advantage over existing airframes with external weapons carriage in that internal stores carriage creates far less parasite drag than external carriage does, providing more excess thrust for maneuvering and accelerating at any given airspeed.

Again, if an aircraft is properly designed for a particular role and maintains strict design discipline and focus on the goals for the program, there is no reason a stealth airplane cannot possess good fighter qualities with low observable features included. F-117 and B-2 are not terribly good comparisons on this issue as both were designed as bombers, though a B-2 does demonstrate stellar aerodynamics blended with LO features, having an Mmo of Mach 0.95, which is unheard of in the civilian world. F-35 was a bloated compromise between three variants with cripples it in terms of traditional fighter metrics and is proof not that LO aircraft don't make good fighters but that multirole aircraft are not going to be stellar in any specific mission role.


The answer may lie in change of tactics. Stealth aircraft are all about one of the oldest rules of gaining advantage: don't be seen first. This is combined with the modern: a 9g plane can not evade a 25 g missile.

They want the other plane trying to evade your missile. The compromises in aircraft performance are understandably lamentable, but being "not seen first" remains the key to survival.

However, technology and tactics are always changing, and it may be wise to remember that many our Air Force's greatest successes came from teamwork of different types of aircraft working together, rather than putting everything into one plane.

Once a slower stealth is located, it then becomes a plane v plane situation.


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