Hot answers tagged

102

Table of contents Future focii Short answer - Important: stealth, sensors (radar & IR), data fusion, networking, long-range weapons. Unimportant: dogfighting with guns. Future counter-detection and counter-measures - Important: RF and IR stealth, lasers, hard-kill defenses How will stealth fighters fight each other? - including THE MOST ...


93

That same thinking, "dogfighting is dead", got the USAF and USN in serious trouble in Vietnam. The U.S. Armed Forces were convinced that the next major war would be against the Soviet Union directly, in theaters including Europe, Alaska and Canada, and as a result, fighter designs succeeding the very successful Sabre and Super Sabre day fighters used in ...


69

Initial work on Radar Cross Section (RCS) reduction concentrated on absorbers and had started in Germany late in WW II. The Americans were not interested at the time, but British scientists documented the results and gained early insights in US RCS research when they pooled their results in the 1970s. Lockheed started work on the systematical reduction of ...


60

The accounts that have been published of F-117 missions indicate that they generally flew single-ship, rather than formation missions, and it seems probable that B-2 aircraft do likewise. So in a sense, the important question for those aircraft isn't "how do I know where (another stealth aircraft operating nearby) IS," but "how do I ensure that we don't ...


40

The reason I had heard, and seems to be confirmed by this site, is that the computers at the time of design were not powerful enough to compute radar reflection of off curved surfaces. The photo is from the same site - it sure looks like something only a 70s computer could love. It most definitely makes aerodynamicists weep.


38

Northrup Grumman B2 Spirit stealth bomber.


33

Do stealth airplanes need to limit contrail generation? Not just stealth aircraft, most military aircraft are required to avoid contrails. Contrails form due to moisture in the aircraft's exhaust. A tried and tested method by NASA is NOT to fly in regions of air that support contrail formation. Ophir's Pilot Alert System which is used by the B-2 stealth ...


30

To not be detected, it is essential to suppress any radiation coming from the stealth airplane. Therefore, radar is not an option and only passive sensing is possible. When stealth aircraft fly in formation, they keep visual contact and avoid IMC flight. To enable ship-to-ship communication, the F-117 has an optical datalink which uses red laser light to ...


30

Using infrared sensors, a fast-moving airplane can be spotted at several 100 km distance if it flies high enough. The friction heating of the fuselage nose and leading edges will stick out against a cold background. Next, by networking radars and combining the radar data in a sophisticated computer program, stealth aircraft can be tracked reliably even in ...


27

The short of it is that the "A" designation for a ground-attack aircraft has historically been a Navy distinction. The USAF/USAAF/USAAC has not traditionally differentiated between an aircraft designed for tactical ground strikes versus a dogfighter/interceptor. Most WWII-era Air Force planes were capable of both, and would be called "multirole fighters" in ...


26

Yes. From the PoV of stealth aircraft, the podded engine has significant disadvantages: The engine pod has a high Radar Cross Section; In fact, stealth aircraft bury the engine inside their fuselages to minimize radar cross section. For example, the B2 Spirit engines were located inside the fuselage, as shown in the schematic below. The exposed compressor ...


22

Pitot tubes F-117 pitot tubes Source: YouTube. Also a look at the FLIR and DLIR. F-22 pitot tubes Source: AIR-SCENE UK. Incorporation of those pitot probes were a cost savings measure. They are also a dominant RCS signature source in the forward and side sectors. The original ATF proposal was for a flush air data system that would have cost many $ ...


21

Dogfighting isn't dead. Even though generation 4.5/5 airframes have great missile capability and stealth, there are times when there is no substitute for bullets. Close quarter gun fire is pretty much immune to chaff and flares. Being able to maneuver into position to engage another aircraft with guns is essential in many circumstances and training for ...


21

Yes you may, but you need to carry a mode C transponder while above 10,000 ft or in some types of controlled airspace and have it switched on. Which pretty much negates the stealth capabilities of your aircraft. To quote the linked AOPA page: According to 14 CFR 99.13, no person may operate an aircraft into or out of the United States, or into, within, ...


20

It certainly seems so. Stealth aircraft are not invisible to radar, only less visible. Under certain conditions the adversary will be able to get a radar lock: At close distance With very high (focused) radar energy At certain angles of incidence Given these risks and the low weight of chaff, it wouldn't be be wise to not carry it. One source that ...


19

While dogfighting may be extinct in Afghanistan, its certainly not extinct in Russia, China, Europe, India, etc. Nations do not arm to fight the current threat, they arm to discourage possible future threats and project power abroad.


19

In RCS, size does not matter once you move beyond the scale of the wavelength of the radar. Therefore, the RCS of a panel with an edge length of 10 cm is (theoretically at least) the same as one of a panel with 1 m edges. The screw must be so poorly placed that it will cause a larger panel to stick out so it has no electrical contact, with the edge pointing ...


18

The angle matters because radar works kind of like a mirror. Imagine holding a mirror out in front of you. If you start to twist it in any direction, you reach a certain point where the light coming off of you is no longer bounced back into your eyes, but is reflected off in another direction. Radar however cannot ever be completely reflected away, but this ...


18

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: There are two ways to prevent the radar energy from being reflected back to its source in order to avoid detection: Absorption, and Directed reflection. Absorbers work well only over a small wavelength band, so some reflection is unavoidable. Now the idea is to collect all reflected energy along specific directions, so the ...


18

a. No. The F-117 Nighthawk was intended to be a stealth attack aircraft from day zero. At no point was the Have Blue program, which led to F-117, intended to produce a fighter. "DARPA USAirForce HaveBlue" by US Air Force Photo. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons. It came to be known as the F-117 as a result of a number of unrelated reasons. The ...


17

The short of it is that it's really hard to hide the heat signature of a device that is powered by burning large amounts of kerosene and shoving those gases out behind it. IR stealth is therefore a secondary concern (or lower) to designers of stealth fighters, primarily because the IR signature only matters at much closer ranges where stealth technology ...


13

I would like to make some general comments, as having worked on programs stood up to build sensors for various military threats. In these programs we were always attempting to get data on relevant threats. The more challenging the signature the more it drove the sensor technology, hinting at areas of improvement. In the sensor research we often met with the ...


12

The F-117 name is unusual in two ways. Not only does it use the letter F, but it continues a numbering scheme which had been abandoned long before. The "century series" fighters were designed in the 1950s, and in 1962 the US introduced the Tri-Service aircraft designation system, which re-started the numbering. The first of those produced in sizable numbers ...


12

Some good answers here, in complement to which I would like to submit a very interesting paper (alternate link - pdf!) I came across on the promise vs. reality of BVR combat, which has been predicted to replace dogfighting since the 50s, if not 40s. In short, history has shown that despite all advances, battlefield realities have consistently forced ...


12

First of all, the general idea is to avoid reflection of radar energy back to its source. Next, you want to direct the reflected energy into as few directions as possible in order to dazzle any observer with a momentary bright beam, surrounded by as little reflection as possible. That is the reason for the aligned edges and serrated patterns on stealth ...


12

It depends on the aircraft. One example was on the F-117, which had removable radar reflectors on the sides of the aircraft, allowing the jet to be detected by primary and secondary ATC radars. As to more modern stealth aircraft, it’s possible they use similar systems to ensure ATC tracking in peacetime.


12

I think you are overthinking things a bit, since it doesn't really matter if it's a stealth aircraft or not. Many places in the world do not have primary radar coverage at all, meaning that if a transponder fails - stealth aircraft or not - it will disappear from the radar screen. Controllers will then revert to providing procedural (non-radar) separation, ...


11

FIrst, stealth does not make an aircraft invisible- it just makes them harder to detect. Stealth (or correctly, Very Low Observable (VLO)) aircraft can and are detected by radars and other surveillance mechanisms. Stealth aircraft are usually optimised for low observability in some radar frequency (mostly in Ku- and X- bands). This means that they can be ...


10

There is no optical datalink over laser for F-117 pilot communications. Comms on that plane was my primary job and I can assure the readers it had no such thing. The comment about single ships was about right - we had pre-programmed routes and due to autopilot and autothrottle the goal was to keep the airplane on route on time. The comms antenna were ...


10

When a B2 visited the UK for the Fairford air show a few years ago, it was always escorted by a pair of F15s, one on each wing-tip. So radar simply had to look for the 2 F15s, and the B2 was the hole in between them!


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