Stealth plane

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B-2 Spirit stealth bomber

Stealth aircraft or stealth aircraft is the name of a military aircraft that uses stealth technology. This is done by means of a special geometric shape and the surface properties, so that the aircraft can only be detected by an enemy radar over short distances (30% of the normal radar range, for example with the F-117 Nighthawk in Soviet radar systems from before 1990).


Stealth planes only return a small amount of energy to the transmitter. The shape makes a significant contribution to the fact that fewer electromagnetic waves are reflected than in conventional aircraft. In addition, special radar absorbing materials (RAM) are used on the surface to reduce the radar cross-section . In slower aircraft, the exhaust jet of the engines is kept cool by special precautions, or its exit is covered at the bottom in order to offer infrared detectors the lowest possible infrared signature. In the first as a stealth bomber ( stealth English become known "stealth") types of F-117 Nighthawk , the characteristic angular shape ensures that incident radar waves are not reflected toward the signal source.

In addition, the use of composite materials instead of metal for tail units ensures a low radar signature.


The first stealth aircraft were developed and used in the United States . State of the art known model is the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber of the United States Air Force , which were purchased in 21 copies. Their use is planned until 2040. The US is currently working on the Northrop Grumman B-21 long-range bomber .

In the summer of 2007, Russia announced massive armament and modernization of its armed forces. Russia says it wants to outperform the US Air Force's stealth bombers. In August 2011, Russia presented the Sukhoi Su-57 multi- role fighter to the public for the first time. At the same time, Russia is developing the RSK MiG-LMFS multi-purpose fighter , which is said to have low stealth properties. The country is also developing the long-range Tupolev PAK-DA bomber .

China celebrated the first 'official' test flight of a stealth aircraft called the J-20 in January 2011 . The machine is similar to the Russian MiG 1.44 (which never went into production) and the US Air Force's Raptor aircraft . The US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted that the project took US intelligence by surprise. In October 2012, a smaller model called the J-31 was introduced, which is very similar to the F-35 .

India is working on the HAL AMCA , a stealth multipurpose aircraft. At the same time, they worked with Russia on the development of the Suchoi / HAL FGFA , but the cooperation was discontinued in 2018.

Sweden is currently developing the Flygsystem 2020 in order to be able to offer a stealth aircraft for its own air force and the export market by 2020. In addition, the aircraft is to replace the conventional Saab 39 . The Swedish company Saab is working with Turkey , which is developing the multi-purpose aircraft TAI TFX .

In South Korea want KF-X will be put into service the 2,020th Japan develops the Mitsubishi ATD-X , an aircraft for research into stealth technology.

Special features of the stealth aircraft

  • In order to stay cloaked, stealth planes have to carry their weapons internally, which reduces their maximum weapon load. For example, an F-117 Nighthawk can only carry two Mark 84 or GBU-10/12/27 Paveway bombs , which is unfavorable in relation to the very high cost of the bomber.
  • As long as stealth planes open their weapon bay (or one of their weapon bays) to fire a weapon, they generate a higher (= easier to locate) radar echo.
  • Once the coating is damaged, the radar echo can increase dramatically. The protection of the sensitive coating from kerosene and environmental influences and the repairing of damage result in a high maintenance effort.
  • Due to their function, stealth aircraft cannot be retrofitted with external attachments or modernized without reducing their stealth properties. This makes their modernization very time-consuming, expensive or in some cases impossible.
  • Stealth technology is only effective against active types of radar. The newer passive radar can even use echoes in radio, radio and television frequencies to detect stealth aircraft and locate them with an accuracy of 10 meters.
  • Earlier Soviet radar systems from the 1970s used longer wave carrier frequencies that are more strongly reflected by stealth aircraft. Well-known systems are the P-18 Terek (NATO code: Spoon Rest D) and P-14 Lena (NATO code: Tall King) systems .
  • Some modern stealth aircraft and drones are designed without vertical stabilizers (B-2, RQ-170 ). As a result, they are usually unstable about at least one spatial axis , so that their flight attitude must be regulated by flight attitude computers . Stealth fighter aircraft can be aerodynamically unstable about multiple axes for reasons of maneuverability (F-22) or because of aerodynamic limitations of the concept (F-117).

Data comparison

image Type Area of ​​responsibility Radar cross section Unit price Top speed Armament Use radius Range
B-2 Spirit original.jpg B-2 Spirit Strategic bomber 0.0001 m² approximately $ 880 million 1,010 km / h 18,144 kg Not known 11,670 km
F-117 Nighthawk Front.jpg F-117 Nighthawk Tactical bomber 0.003 m² approx. USD 120 million 1,040 km / h 2,270 kg 1,112 km 2,110 km
Raptor F-22 27th.jpg F-22 Raptor Air superiority fighter 0.0001-0.0018 m² approximately $ 190 million 2,410 km / h Not known 800 - 1,400 km 3,200 km
F-35A flight (cropped) .jpg F-35A Lightning II Multipurpose fighter 0.005 m² approx. USD 90 million 1,975 km / h 8,165 kg 1,080 km 2,222 km
Sukhoi T-50 Maksimov.jpg Sukhoi Su-57 Multipurpose fighter 0.5 m² approximately $ 42 million over 2000 km / h 10,000 kg 1200 km Not known
  1. The RCS value is subject to military secrecy. The figures are estimates that can vary significantly depending on the sources.
  2. The specified costs relate to the system price, not to the “flyaway” costs.
  3. The operational radius of the F-22 decreases sharply when the mission is flown in " Supercruise ".
  4. Costs correspond to the average expected unit price over the entire planned production volume.
  5. ↑ The specification includes the external weaponry, which cannot be used for stealth operations. The F-35's maximum internal weapon load is significantly lower.

See also

Web links

  • Runaway tarpaulin. In: New York Times, January 24, 2016, accessed January 26, 2016 (NY Times video on US stealth programs in general and the F-35 program in particular).


  • Doug Richardson: Stealth - Invisible Airplanes - Deception and camouflage in the air. Stocker-Schmid, Zurich 1990, ISBN 3-7276-7096-7 .
  • Mike Spick: Milestones in Aviation - From the Wright Brothers to Stealth Technology. Motorbuch-Verl., Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-7276-7124-6 .
  • David C. Aronstein, Albert C. Piccirillo: Have Blue and the F-117A - Evolution of the "Stealth Fighter." American Inst. Of Aeronautics and Astronautics 1997, ISBN 1-56347-245-7 .
  • Robert Kandler: Stealth technology - technology, tactics, trends and effects on Austrian air surveillance. Dipl.-Arb., Theresian Military Academy, Wiener Neustadt 2000.

Individual evidence

  1. Russia is developing a new stealth bomber ( Memento of the original from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (, August 24, 2007)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. August 16, 2011: Russia presents new stealth bomber (at the aerospace trade fair ' MAKS ' near Moscow)
  3. Chinese celebrate stealth bombers with fireworks on January 11, 2011
  4. ^ Daniel Brown: Here's what China plans to do with the J-31 stealth fighter - its copy of the F-35. Retrieved February 13, 2020 .
  5. China unveils the J-31 SPON stealth fighter jet , online.
  6. India withdraws from FGFA project, leaving Russia to go it alone | Jane's 360. May 23, 2018, accessed July 22, 2020 .
  7. Limén, Helene (2007), Rapport från Riksdagen (Report of the Parliament), Försvarsutskottets ansvarsområde, p. 31, 08: RFR8.
  8. Spiegel Online: Passive radar, stealth jets take their cloak of invisibility , SPON , online, September 14, 2012