Today’s stealth aircraft are truly marvels of engineering, using all the latest, cutting edge innovations to remain hidden from any threats. While they share some technologies with conventional aircraft, stealth planes are well-known for their unique designs as well as the powerful capabilities that they employ to make it seem like they’re invisible.
Many of these technologies have been in development for decades, and their high level of engineering as well as their cost makes them suited for very special uses as we will see detailed below.
Dressed For Stealth
One way that these planes can avoid detection is by flying at certain times of the day, almost always as night. And it helps immensely that most spy planes are almost always coated with a black paint. But this isn’t just about the colour of the paint, but also because this isn’t regular paint. In fact, these paints and coatings are made from special substances that are able to absorb radar signals. Done on a microscopic level, the outer shell of the coating has countless pyramid-shaped protrusions that can absorb the radar energy as it hits the plane.
Iron ball paint is an example of this, containing spheres that can resonate at the same frequency as radio waves, and use this to dissipate the majority of the energy, which doesn’t allow any signals to return to the radar detectors.
Heat dissipation isn’t just helpful for radar signals, but also for making sure that the aircraft does not have any kind of heat signature. One great example of this is the F117A Nighthawk, a plane that makes use of special turbofans that vent their excess heat through nozzles. These nozzles work to spread out the heat as much as possible, and with added heat shields that are set below the nozzles, almost all the heat produced by the engine is not detectable.
On top of heat absorption and dissipation, another way of doing it is by using deflection. This is why modern stealth planes as well as fighter jets will often have sharper edges and lots of points, which is different to commercial aircraft that tend to be much more rounded. Their striking features have made aircraft like this a favourite in modern media in everything from video games to movies to even the themes for online gambling NZ games.
These edges are more than just an aesthetic choice; they can actually defend radio waves that are sent toward them. This allows the surfaces to successfully conduct the radio waves instead, which disallows any kind of reflection from taking place. One of the big costs involved in building a modern stealth plane is the coating that it needs to deflect waves in such an efficient manner. And it’s why the US, and its largest military budget, is virtually the only country in the world that has these kinds of vehicles in its arsenal.