The entire subject of plasma research is an interesting emerging field of technology. Plasma is the fourth state of matter, and is not very well
The reduction of heat/shockwave is the new part of the applications, of which there are many possibilities. The reduction of radar cross-section is
the old part, and is already in use. The Soviet Union offered the application for export in 1999. The French are rumoured to have it operational. So
you can imagine what the USAF might have.
The original usage of the plasma reduction, was inside the radome on the nose of the aircraft. (Aviation Week-Soviet plasma technology) This antenna
in a pointy box, is a huge source of radar return. You can see why, it's a device tuned for radar frequencies. The Soviets found that generating a
field of plasma inside the radome cancelled the radar return.
I can hear what you're thinking, "Doesn't this ruin the use of your own radar?". Well, yes and no. You can turn the plasma off when you want to
use your own radar, and until then, you are in stealth mode. The other option, is to use a radar with a higher frequency than your opponent.
Plasma fields blank out microwaves, but only frequencies that are below a threshold of the type of plasma being used. If your plasma field is tuned
for something inbetween the two, one will work, and the other is blind.
As with many other emerging technologies, computing power and speed will be the key to taking advantage of the new capabilities.
Imagine an aircraft, with both plasma stealth, and visible light shifting surfaces. It mimics the background behind it, making it look like that alien
in the "Predator" movie. And if it's discovered by radar, it turns on it's plasma shield, and a gently glowing bubble of energy surrounds an
object that isn't there. The radar can't see it, your eyeballs can't see it, and it has little or no infra-red signature. Picture that at high Mach
speed, moving your way, in the dark.
[edit on 16-10-2005 by ZPE StarPilot]