The basic nature of stealth, which is the agenda of undermining the enemy’s ability to identify a weapon, has been prevalent amongst mankind since the beginning of time. However, modern-day stealth is characterized by ground, air and sea weapons powered with electromagnetic radiation, which have the ability to be invisible to the enemy’s radars.
As engineers and arms manufacturers struggle to develop an aircraft that would be undetected by the radar waves, Pyotr Ufimtsev, a Russian physicist, published a series of groundbreaking treatises on the reflection of the electromagnetic waves of radars.
The successful missions conducted by the F-117 Nighthawk triggered the need to modify the B-2 fleet and equip it with capabilities that allow conventional precision strike missions
After his work was translated into English, the aerospace engineers at Lockheed were able to extract the accurate theory on decreasing the radar cross-section of an aircraft, which led to the creation of the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk stealth “fighter”.
Stealth is the most important strategic and tactical defence deployed by the US army, and here are five of the deadliest weapons in its possession:
The SR-71 Blackbird is said to be the fastest aircraft ever manufactured, and it was also one of the first planes to be powered with a wide range of stealth features. In 1962, the SR-71 was flown with four stealth features, including the surfaces that avoided reflecting radar waves, the wings, tail and fuselage designed with composites, and the enormous J-58 afterburning engines that were closely positioned near the fuselage.
The black paint of the SR-71 was powered with small iron ferrite spheres, which allow the Blackbird to reduce its radar cross-section. All stealth features combined, the SR-71 boosts a radar cross-section of less than 10 square meters.
The F-117 is wrongly considered a stealth fighter while it is actually a tactical bomber as it lacks air to air capabilities. The Nighthawk was designed from the top-secret Have Blue project, which focused on designing a low radar signature over aerodynamic performance. Fifty-nine F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter aircrafts were manufactured.
The first combat flight of the F-117 occurred in 1989, which it was used for target bombings in the invasion of Panama. It was next spotted flying in Operation Desert Storm, flying nighttime missions across Baghdad and no-fly zone operations against Iraq during the 1990s, Kosovo in 1999, and the Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The B-2 Spirit is the first wholly stealth strategic bomber possessed by the US Army, and its tailless design was first revealed by the Northrop Corporation in 1988. The design was powered with the ambition of reducing the radar signature of the aircraft and since it was intended for the Soviet Union, as the Cold War came to an end, the production was halted after 21 of these planes were manufactured.
The successful missions conducted by the F-117 Nighthawk triggered the need to modify the B-2 fleet and equip it with capabilities that allow conventional precision strike missions. The B-2 is equipped for carrying a variety of arsenal, including B61 nuclear gravity bombs, the gigantic 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), and the Join Directed Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs.
Designed as an alternative for the F-15 Eagle, the F-22 Raptor is the first operational stealth fighter that deploys stealth to gain a pivotal advantage in air-to-air combat. The F-22 Raptor is considered the best fighter aircraft since it became operational in December 2005, and it has outshined all current and upcoming aircrafts with its dynamic capabilities.
It emerged in the late 1980s as an Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF), the first plane to deploy stealth in a highly manoeuvrable, fighter-type platform. The design is capable of providing minimal radar and infrared signatures.
Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine
Over the years, submarines and navy arsenal has also evolved with the high manoeuvrability of stealthy features, and the Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines are a deadly combination of stealth and lethal capabilities.
The Ohio-Class is a legend that holds immense popularity for going undetected against Soviet submarines and detection systems. With a design of 18,450 tons, it is the largest submarine ever constructed by the US. Its stealth features include the sound-isolating mounts to minimize noise, the fish-shaped hull that promotes fast movement, and the nuclear missile silos designed to decrease flow noise. One of its two steam turbines is designed to provide quiet operation.