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72 votes
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Why does the F-117 Nighthawk look different than other stealth planes?

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 ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
43 votes
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What plane is shown here in the movie Rampage?

Northrup Grumman B2 Spirit stealth bomber.
Pilothead's user avatar
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43 votes
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If stealth aircraft are invisible to radar, then how do friendlies manage them or see them in flight?

Like most military aircraft, the F-22 has a military equivalent of a transponder, an IFF system (Wikipedia): Identification, friend or foe (IFF) is a radar-based identification system designed for ...
Jpe61's user avatar
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43 votes

If stealth aircraft are invisible to radar, then how do friendlies manage them or see them in flight?

When flying non-combat missions, many low-observability aircraft are fitted with radar reflectors. Here is a photo of an F-22 Raptor with a Radar Reflector fitted to it. That little Luneburg lens ...
dotancohen's user avatar
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40 votes

Why does the F-117 Nighthawk look different than other stealth planes?

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 off of curved surfaces. The photo is ...
Koyovis's user avatar
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39 votes

What is the significance of radar cross section (RCS) for air defense?

Its all about detection distance. Take a car and a beer can. You're 10 miles away, on an open plain. From there, you can't see either. Get closer...5 miles. Still can't see either. At 3 miles, you can ...
WPNSGuy's user avatar
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35 votes
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Why are stealth aircraft not sky blue?

Because they are rarely tracked by eyeball. Any eyeball guided missile is short range enough to be defeated by altitude. Or if they are low enough, they aren't around long enough for the eye to ...
WPNSGuy's user avatar
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23 votes
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Can anti-radiation missiles be used to target stealth fighter aircraft?

There are many anti-radiation missiles in many arsenals, they are designed for air to ground missions, attacking surface to air missile radars from a long distance. I don't know whether it would be ...
GdD's user avatar
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23 votes

Why are stealth aircraft not sky blue?

The sky in most of the world, most of the time, isn't blue. It's various shades of grey. A blue aircraft would stick out like a sore thumb against grey skies. This was found out already during WW2 ...
jwenting's user avatar
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21 votes
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How can a single misplaced screw so massively increase a stealth aircraft's radar cross-section?

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 ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
20 votes
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How does drone reliance on GPS make it 'semi-stealthy'?

For being remotely controlled, drones need to emit and receive a radio signal. If the outgoing signal contains a video feed, it will be high bandwidth and be like a beacon announcing the location of ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
17 votes

Do stealth plane need to turn off its radar to remain in stealth?

Yes, having your radar on will make you VERY detectable. Think of two guys walking around a dark warehouse, light off. Both have a pistol and a flashlight. Whoever turns their flashlight on first ...
WPNSGuy's user avatar
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15 votes

How does ATC locate a stealth aircraft if its transponder fails?

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 ATC radars. As to more modern ...
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
15 votes

Can anti-radiation missiles be used to target stealth fighter aircraft?

If the stealth aircraft's radar were continually transmitting, then, yes, the other stealth features would be completely useless, and missiles would easily home in on them and shoot them down. Which ...
HiddenWindshield's user avatar
15 votes

What is the significance of radar cross section (RCS) for air defense?

Besides the problem of whether you can see it at all far enough away to have time to do something about it, you also have the problem that if you do build a radar capable of spotting bird-sized ...
Nullius in Verba's user avatar
15 votes

Can doppler radar be used to detect stealth aircraft by focusing on the characteristic flow field instead of the aircraft itself?

To a limited extent, yes, it's possible to detect the air disturbances left by aircraft. This NASA article studies the radar reflectivity of vortex wakes exhaustively. It's being proposed as a safety ...
Therac's user avatar
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14 votes
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How does ATC locate a stealth aircraft if its transponder fails?

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 ...
60levelchange's user avatar
14 votes
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Can the signature of stealth fighters be uncovered, and then used for future detections?

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 ...
Aaron's user avatar
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13 votes

How do friendly stealth planes locate each other?

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 ...
Scorched's user avatar
  • 329
13 votes

Why do many stealth aircraft have a similar shape and design?

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 ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
12 votes

Why doesn't Su-57 blend the engine nacelles with the fuselage, like other 5th generation fighters?

There are different definitions of what to call "stealth". Some aircraft like the B-2 are total all-aspect stealth, others like the F-15SE proposal only make small RCS reductions. The Su-57 ...
Therac's user avatar
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11 votes

How does ATC locate a stealth aircraft if its transponder fails?

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 ...
RAC's user avatar
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11 votes
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How does the F-22 Raptor radar reflector work?

The F-22 RCS enhancers size and shape (to some extent), as well as this source for example, suggest it is a Luneburg lens. The Luneburg lens is a device that reflects electromagnetic waves very ...
Jpe61's user avatar
  • 28.9k
10 votes

Why are there no stealth helicopters?

The closest question to this currently is Why aren't modern helicopters quieter?, which one should read first. That regards sonic stealth. As for radar stealth, any rotating part, visible from ...
Therac's user avatar
  • 27.4k
10 votes

Can anti-radiation missiles be used to target stealth fighter aircraft?

Yes, but such aircraft can turn off their active emissions (radar, EM jammer, communications etc etc.). And AESA radars can be very select about in which directions it emit to not make the aircraft ...
Invariant's user avatar
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9 votes

Was the intended purpose of the F-117 Nighthawk originally a stealth-fighter?

Whether the F-117 was "intended" as a strike aircraft or not, and despite some comments about it needing external stations, it did and could fire just about anything in the US arsenal including a 20mm ...
Scorched's user avatar
  • 329
8 votes
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How fast do the F-35 weapons bay doors open/close during combat ops?

3-4 seconds may lead to a detection, but then again 1-2 seconds could too with a sophisticated radar system. The important thing is that 3-4 seconds is short enough that a detection would be extremely ...
GdD's user avatar
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8 votes

Can anti-radiation missiles be used to target stealth fighter aircraft?

As an addition to other answers: To form a picture of the battlefield situation, the radar system of a stealth aircraft (or any radar for that matter) does not need to transmit all the time. It can ...
Jpe61's user avatar
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8 votes

Can anti-radiation missiles be used to target stealth fighter aircraft?

I don't have rep to comment, so this answer is more of a side note, that stealth fighters have been trackable for decades. The TAMARA radio system from what was Tesla Electronics (former ...
Altern 's user avatar
8 votes

Is the F-117 actually inferior in its RCS than the F-22 and B-2?

The few people that know the lab measurements, aren't at liberty to tell. So the only public information on stealth comes from modeling. However, stealth is complicated. It's not just specular ...
Therac's user avatar
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