The Benefits and Costs of Stealth From The Aircraft Designer’s Viewpoint

R. Whitford


The reduction or other control of an aircraft’s radar, infrared, visual and acoustic signatures can greatly improve its survival, resulting in improved weapons` effectiveness. Although radar and infrared stealth are important, other aspects of low observability (i.e. acouctic and visual) cannot be ignored. However, this paper, for reasons of brevity, focuses on control of radar and infrared signatures. The topics of: benefits of signature control; contributions of an aircraft to its radar cross section (RCS) and infrared (IR) signature; methods to reduce RCS and IR signature; penalties/costs of signature reduction, in terms of performance, volume, weight and maintenance; and use of radar absorbing materials are addressed. The conclusion is that while signature control is important, there are penalties to be paid. Signature reduction has become yet another factor to be concidered in the series of compromises made during aircraft design trade-offs.


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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague