Modern technology has converted the conventional methods of War. It has entirely changed the rules of the battlefield and continuing to do so. The never-ending game between the offence and defence forced humans to make some significant progress towards weaponry with the help of science. Artificial Intelligence, robotics, drones, cyber warfare and stealth technology are some of the vital technological advancement towards the contemporary era of warfare. Many countries are ready to spend billions to get their hands on these weapons, though not many countries can develop these technologies because of many reasons ranging from financial restrain to not having such advance scientific-technological knowledge. Stealth technology is one of the most formidable mechanics for modern weapons.
“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be put at risk even in a hundred battles. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself” said, Sun Tzu. The idea of getting information about your enemy is a crucial military tactic for having a favourable position during any kind of conflict. For this very purpose, the French slang word camouflage came during World War 1. It was used to conceal presence from observation and getting an advantage over your enemy. Soon this becomes a foremost part of the military concept of visual deception. During World War 2, Ships were painted with different colours to protect them from the ground or sky attacks. But soon the invention of radar challenged the engineers and scientists to came up with some kind of technology to counter radar systems of the enemy.
During the cold war era, the CIA demanded a spy plane which was immune to get attacked while penetrating the Soviet air space and the result was A-12 and its successor SR-17 Blackbird. This plane was able to operate at sizeable altitude and had speed three times more than sound, which made it perfect for the Reconnaissance missions. Sharp edges and angles were kept to a minimum, the surface design of the aircraft allowed it to avoid the Radar signals. This initial stealth technology served as the foundation for the later technology. Stealth technology in terms of science is way much more fascinating and complicated.Radar involves the transmission ofelectromagnetic waves into the atmosphere; they are then reflected off the aircraft back to a receiving antenna. These signals help to give information about the size, distance and location of the aircraft. Then the size of an object is determined by the Radar cross-section, larger the RCS and bigger it will appear on the radar screen; that’s why the B-2 and the F-22 have less RCS, which means that they are too small to appear on most of the radar screens which are currently in use. For some people, stealth technology may sound like the art of invisibility but in reality, it’s more like the art of deception. To gain the minimum RCS, a special kind of polymer-based material is applied to the surface of stealth military aircraft known as the Radar-absorbing material (RAM). RAM works on the principle of the plane absorbing the electromagnetic waves to minimise the intensity of the reflected signals. This material applied all over the aircraft or especially to the high reflection areas such as surface edges. In the last few years, there were many new developments came in the news regarding the radar absorbing material, a new nanostructured coating was developed which could be used to make paints for the aircraft. This paint would allow the aircraft to go undetectable and the dark colour of these nanostructured coating make aircraft visibility low.
In upcoming years, this technology will successfully be integrated with the other platforms such as the unmanned weapons, transport aircraft and even helicopters. However, shortly radar technology will surely be able to counter the stealth threat as Russia’s S-400 is already posing some serious challenges to the U.S.A’s stealth jets. To maintain a fleet of stealth aircraft is quite expensive as U.S.A is already finding it difficult to maintain its B-2 and F-22 fleet, so only a few countries will get their hands on these machines. These machines will undoubtedly provide advantages to the countries but demand a lot of innovation. Recent announcements were made by some countries such as India, Japan, South Korea, etc. to develop their indigenous stealth fighter jet, Stealth technology will become an integral part of future Air forces and a great tool in the international arena to boost the military ties between the countries.
The author is currently pursuing his Masters from University of Delhi. Graduated in Physics, he likes to be au courant with technological impact on the Foreign Policy architectures as well as Geopolitical operationality in the Indo-Pacific.
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A Bunch of new information always keeps you up to date. Thanks for the article brother.