Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Stealth Weapons

10. X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System

The Northrop Grumman X-47 Pegasus (now THAT’S a name) is an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle, part of DARPA’s J-UCAS program, and currently the most technologically advanced “robotic plane” in the United States Navy’s garage. Development of Pegasus was not funded by any Military establishments, but company-funded. So, its technology was probably sold off to the highest bidder (Uncle Sam Land!) – No word yet on exactly how much explosives this ship can carry, but we’re guessing this puppy won’t only be used for peaceful spying missions.

9. F-117 Nighthawk

One of many Lockheed funded warcrafts – the F-117 Nighthawk is a stealth ground attack aircraft, formerly operated by the United States Air Force. The F-117A’s first flight was in 1981, and it achieved Initial Operational Capability status in October 1983 – although F-117A was “acknowledged” to the world in November 1988 and widely used during 1991’s Gulf War. The Air Force retired the F-117 on April 22, 2008 due to the acquisition and eventual deployment of the more effective F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.

8. F-22 Raptor

The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology – the same on F-117A, though this craft is much smaller and faster. Designed as an air superiority fighter, F-22 has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles. Producer Lockheed Martin claims the Raptor’s combination of stealth, speed, agility, precision and situational awareness combined with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities, makes it the best overall fighter in the world. Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston of the Australian Defense Force said the “F-22 will be the most outstanding fighter plane ever built.”

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7. F-35 Lightning II

Another Lockheed Martin stealth fighter, F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation, single-seat, single-engine, stealth-capable military strike fighter, a multirole aircraft that can perform close air support, tactical bombing, and air defense missions. F-35 is descended from the X-35, the product of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Its development is being principally funded by the U.S., with the United Kingdom and other governments providing additional funding.

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6. RAH-66 Comanche

The Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche was an advanced U.S. Army military helicopter intended for the armed reconnaissance role, incorporating stealth technologies. Initially meant to be a possible replacement for the AH-64 Apache, RAH-66 testing was canceled in 2004 due partially to budget restraints. Armament for the “stealth helicopter” includes: 1× 20 mm XM301 three-barrel cannon mounted in a Turreted Gun System (500 round capacity) – 6 Hellfires or 6 Stingers (ATAS) or 24 Hydra 70 2.75 in (70 mm) air-to-ground rockets and wing-mounted Hellfire, Stinger or Hydra 70 air-to-ground rockets…Yikes.

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5. K32 HMS Helsingborg

HMS Helsingborg (K32) is second in the new class of Visby-class corvettes ordered by the Swedish Government and built by Kockums (quite possibly the funniest military complex name EVER). The vessel is currently active in PTK Visby, undergoing operational trials. On August 12, 2006 the ship left Sweden for the Mediterranean. She returned back to Karlskrona in September of that year and is currently undergoing more testing.

4. “Photo-Stealth” Military Wrap

According to Trevor J. Kracker, president of Military Wraps, unlike the ‘hyperstealth’ technique that utilize computer graphics to deform a pattern, “Military-Wraps” utilize proprietary ‘Photo-Stealth’ and ‘Photo-Real’ site-specific camouflage technique to combine photographic digital detailing and print them over vinyl-adhesive wraps that are designed to match a surrounding terrain so vividly that vehicles, weapons, and equipment can seem to disappear into the surrounding battlefield environment. This of the Predator films.

3. Stealth Tank

With tanks evolving to suit modern day conflicts, they’ve been the focus of speculation as to what role and changes they will have. Current “stealth tank” prototypes for British military and US Army have pointed out that the future lies in invisibility rather than invincibility as modern missiles can penetrate any tank’s defenses. This stealth technology—similar to the one used in stealth aircraft— makes it nearly invisible to enemy radar, by absorbing rather than reflecting radar beams. The British stealth tank prototype also has a low center of gravity, almost crawling on the ground to avoid detection.

2. IX-529 U.S. Navy Sea Shadow

The Sea Shadow, seen on both film and television, is a real military vessel, built in 1985 and used in secret until her public debut in 1993, to examine the application of stealth technology on naval vessels. The ship was designed to test the use of automation to enable the reduction of crew size. Sea Shadow was developed at Lockheed’s Redwood City, California facility, inside the Hughes Mining Barge, which functioned as a floating dry dock during construction and testing.

1. B-2 Spirit

Without a doubt one of the most famous stealth bombers in US military history. The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit (also known as the Stealth Bomber) is an American heavy bomber with “low observable” stealth technology designed to penetrate dense anti-aircraft defenses and deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. Twenty B-2s are operated by the United States Air Force. Though originally designed in the 1980’s for Cold War operations scenarios, B-2s have been used in combat to drop bombs on Kosovo in the late 1990s, and see continued use during the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bomber can drop up to 80 500-lb class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or 16 2,400-lb B83 nuclear bombs in a single pass. Now there’s a ship you wouldn’t want to be riding under once those doors pop open.

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