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Could a ‘typical’ aircraft manufacturer design and build a stealth combat aircraft

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posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 10:36 PM
I’m thinking along the lines of a stealth bomber with a 3,000lb weapons load of “off-the-shelf” PGMs, with subsonic performance, no radar, no-RAM (unless it can be brought “off-the-shelf”) mundane flight characteristics, range equivalent to fighters etc.

The sort of plane that if it were non-stealthy would be equivalent to light strike versions of advanced trainers (BAE Systems Hawk etc) but when stealth becomes a major psychological deterrent bolstering a small country’s defences.

With modern computing power, could it be done on a feasible scale without reliance on classified data/info/materials etc?

posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 10:43 PM
Could you clarify or specify "typical"?
If "typical" is what I think it means, then the answer would be 'no.'
But if "typical" implies the likes of Boeing, etc., then the answer would be 'yes.'


posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 10:55 PM
Um, IAR of Romania, Aermacchi of Italy, HAL of India, Cessna of USA etc.

If not, why not?

posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 10:58 PM

Originally posted by planeman
If not, why not?

Two reasons:
The sheer money involved (ie:costs).
Lack of technical and personnel experience in stealth technologies.


posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 11:20 PM
you need 3 things to build a stealth bomber.

1. Experience. Know how stealth works, copying a design is not enough. You have to understand its principles so you know how to overcome issues as poor manoeuvrability, instability that a stealth design is going to bring you. The experience has to come from generations of knowledge inside the company, not just an individual. It's too much for a single brain. For example Lockheed began collecting knowledge about stealth since the 60's with the design of the Blackbird.

2. You need an enormous amount of computer power to design the plane and to control it. I don't know whether a vector computer or a scalar would be better, probably you need both. For example the USA has enormous computer power between private companies and public agencies such as NASA and the Airforce. The only other country with a super computer infrastructure and native technology is Japan; they held the tittle for the most powerful supercomputer until not so long ago. Indigenous computer technology is important since you need to be able to design ultra complicated software to be put on custom made computers to be placed into the plane. Northrop used to joke that they had more computer power inside the YF-23 than in the rest of the company.

3. You need an incredible amount of money. Having the computers, the people and all the materials and installations that are necessary, cost huge amounts of money. Enough to break the company if the plane doesn't get picked. McDonnell Douglas went bust for loosing the YF-23 and JSF contracts.
Now lets say the company managed to create a stealth design, now you need a buyer that can spend billions of dollars buying your design and subsidising your development costs. Western Europe couldn't afford it, even Japan thought it was too much money to invest.

The conclusion is take any company and answer if the fill these three requirements and you will have your answer.

posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 11:26 PM
It’s an open question so I’m not trying to say that you are wrong, but why is it prohibitively expensive? FBW technology has got cheaper and smaller – even small time UAV manufacturers in UK are flying FBW designs. The basic secrets of stealth are well known and many basic solutions like low-reflection exhausts can be gleamed from existing designs. Computer technology is also cheaper now. Precision engineering is doable, if more labor intensive.

I’m not saying design and build a stealth combat aircraft comparable to the current US ones, just something generally stealthy.

EDIT: carcharodon, I'd suggest that the computer processing ability is very much within the grasp of every country. also re experience, plenty of people understand stealth now they know what the basic problem is.

[edit on 4-4-2006 by planeman]

posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 11:44 PM
I don't quite agree with you planeman on the computer thing. Yes we all have powerful computers that cost thousands that a few years ago cost millions of dollars.
however for this you need REAL computer power and to be able to develop your technology. Sometimes in highly advance projects you need to create custom solutions to fit your needs.

Here is the list of the 500 most powerful computers. Pay attention to where are they located and the country of origin for the technology.

500 list

posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 11:49 PM

Originally posted by planeman
It’s an open question so I’m not trying to say that you are wrong, but why is it prohibitively expensive? FBW technology has got cheaper and smaller – even small time UAV manufacturers in UK are flying FBW designs. The basic secrets of stealth are well known and many basic solutions like low-reflection exhausts can be gleamed from existing designs. Computer technology is also cheaper now. Precision engineering is doable, if more labor intensive.

Despite everything that you have just said, the facts remain indisputable. The relative high costs, to a "typical" aircraft manufacturer, to design, build, test, and then market such a working stealth model.
Further, you have to have the personnel who fully understand and have experience in stealth technologies, from computer designing to actual building.

Thus, the primary reasons are:
1) the "typical" aircraft manufacturer does not have the desire or the means to enter into the 'stealth' market already dominated by the bigger, non-"typical" aircraft manufacturers.
2) the relative high-costs involved with developing (ie: designing, building, testing, marketing) general stealth aircraft.


[edit on 4-4-2006 by Seekerof]

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 02:45 AM
Hmm, MBB of Germany were a mostly civilian aerospace company - actually occupied with all sorts of aerodynamics, also space tech and wind turbines - when they designed the Lampyridae ... if you count that as a proper stealth project.

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 02:59 AM
Could a small company do one? In theory, but to quote Homer, "Communism works in theory"

Many of the reasons have been listed by Seekerof and others. Also would they have access to or afford to buy access to RCS testing ranges needed to validate the stealth of the platform?

Military spec aircraft and equipment has a whole differnet testing and validation process that is simply not required to build say a Cessna. If it were so easy to develop frontline high tech aircraft, every country would have thier own homemade air force.

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 03:31 AM
Yes, quite easily really.

We've a program called virtual lab at work, its mainly used for acoustics, but the fellas that use it say it would be easily capable of working with radar waves instead.

As for computing power
You lot heard of Moores law? You know, transistor size halves (aka computing power doubles) every 18 months... So the F-22 was designed back in mid 80s... 20 years ago, thats means we have 2^13 times the computing power now. Besides, an FEA model, which is essentially what you'd be using for running RCS calcs, doesn't need that much in the way of memory and CPU anyway (compared to CFD for instance).

Regards employing people that know enough about radar etc to do the design, sure, wouldn't be a problem if you spread the net wide enough, electronics and physicists as well as aeronautical.

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 06:01 AM

Originally posted by planeman
..HAL of India..

Well HAL do have a stealth airplane concept in place. Called the MCA (or Medium Combat Aircraft) it is a heavier development of the LCA intended to replace Mirage-2000's , Mig-29's and Jaguars by 2012~2015.

Well there are several supercomputers in India that do stuff like simulate nuclear bombs, so stealth aircrafts may not be a far cry. The LCA programme has ensured that all the requisite infrastructure for developing such an aircraft exists.

BANGALORE: The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the aircraft design house of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bangalore has formed a core team to design a medium combat aircraft (MCA), an advanced multi-role fighter with stealth capabilities.

Besides incorporating many features of the indigenous single-engine Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) that is undergoing flight trials, the MCA will use radar-absorbent materials to reduce detection by radars, making it a stealth fighter.

The new generation fighter is expected to replace the Jaguar and the Mirage-2000 fleet of the Indian Air Force in the coming decades.The design work is getting ready. It should be completed in a year,” DRDO sources told DNA.

The advanced aircraft will be build with extensive use of composites and have smart sensors like micro electronic mechanical systems (MEMS), that can automatically detect strains or weaknesses in the airframe or wings. “The IAF is giving a lot of inputs for the design,” sources said.

Once the design is frozen, the DRDO would present the project to the government for sanction of the MCA project estimated to cost about Rs 6000 to Rs 8000 crore. The MCA will be a 12 tonne weight class fighter with a maximum take-off weight of about 18 tonnes.

It is to be powered by two “thrust vector’’ engines that facilitate controlling the flight by controlling its thrust, giving the pilot greater manoeuvrability.

Many systems and technologies developed in India for the LCA, Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) and the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) like the flight control systems and composite wings will be used in the MCA.

“It will take about six to eight years for the first aircraft to be developed,” sources said.
Full Article >>

^^ evloved from the LCA and shares commonality with the LCA

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 08:53 AM
Kilcoo is on the same page as me.

We have to remember that both Northrop and Lockheed built their first stealth aircraft without prior experience of building one. And whilst Lockheed used 1970s computing power to design the Have-Blue/F-117, Northrop designed their reasonably successful stealthy XST submission and then the more advanced Tactic Blue WITHOUT using computer RCS programs - they just used trial and error and mental judgement.

Then there was MBB, they clearly had a good understanding of unconventional aerodynamics which could make a facetted stealth aircraft 'work' when they designed the Lampyridae - the same principle as the F-117a uses. Remember that when Lockheed designed the "hopeless diamond", many aero-engineers doubted it could fly, but they didn't understand the aerodynamics.... yet independantly MBB came up with a similar solution in the 1980s.

The list of companies/countries who are known to have produced credible stealth aircraft:
BAE Systems, UK
Dassault, France
Saab, Sweden
EADS, Germany/Spain (/France etc)
Alenia, Italy

List of countries who have built stealth warships:

People seem to assume it requires some astronomical computing power, it doesn't.

Fly-by-wire technology is also much more accessible and capable these days. If the target performance is low enough, it can be easily achieved.

Another odd assumption seems to be that such an aircraft would have to be cutting edge in other respects to - not necessarily. The big players like USA spend $$$ on projects like JFS optimising its systems for combat - but at the other end of the scale you could do things much cheaper:
* Maximise use of "off-the-shelf" systems rather than indigineous ones
* Keep performance on the tame side
* Limit the weapons it will carry to a select few
* Minimise combat sensors. Avoid the stealth radome dilema by simply not having a radar.

[edit on 5-4-2006 by planeman]

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 05:49 PM
Can someone photoshop a faceted cesna 172 for me

sorry I had to.

Really tho, I bet it could be done, all it would take is talent, money, and experience.

F-117`s cost about 122million in todays dollars. I am sure it could be done cheaper today

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 06:03 PM
The projected cost of the YF-22 ATF program in 1987 was at about 99.1 billion dollars.

Not only did the project overexceed that projected cost, but it's also more expensive because that figure was 20 years ago, so the number would be much bigger.

All the current stealth projects in the US have one thing in common. They're government funded.

Now it can possibly be done cheaper, it is imaginable, but how much cheaper would cheaper be? Enough to put any corporation out of buisness if they attempted and failed.

Shattered OUT...

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 07:13 PM

Originally posted by uuhelpus
Can someone photoshop a faceted cesna 172 for me

sorry I had to.

The prop would be a mjor contributor to the RCS so I replaced it with a ducted fan mounted behind the cabin, taking air from above the wing (air intake masked from ground radars and duct S-shaped to minimise radart reflections off fan) and venting out the back. The new fuselage is wedge shaped and faceted.

I left the wings and tail so that it is still partly Cessna, but switched the landing gear to tail-dragger. But in truth the fixed landing gear, basic wing with rounded leading edge, strut and conventional vertical tail with right-angle intersection would all give it a large RCS. A V-tail and new wings would be needed... making it 0% Cessna 172...

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 10:11 PM
For what it's worth, I'm still playing with the "stealth Cessna" idea, although it now looks nothing like a Cessna. landing gear is a real challenge, as are the wing leading edges and control surfaces.

this is the skin for what is going to be a see-through internal layout illustration. Note that a panel on the roof is missing.

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 10:54 PM

Originally posted by Stealth Spy

I don't know how others feel but I actually doubt those configurations are particularly stealthy, although the outward canted twin fins help. The nose and section is not chisselled and the intakes appear square-on. also the rear fuselage is very rounded and the exhausts certainly aren't stealthy although that is not uncommon (JSF anyone...).

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 11:29 PM
Cost seems to be a huge obstacle to making a stealth plane even for entire nations. Lots of goverments have designed stealth planes or even made prototypes but none have produced one yet besides the US. They have made "stealthly" planes but nothing anyone should really consider a true stealth plane.

Russia for example surely have the technical expertise to build a stealth plane heck the concept is in part thanks to a Russian. They even built prototypes like the SU-47 which could have been very stealthy. They had design plans for a B-2 like bomber aswell. But the cost seems to be the only real factor stopping them.

posted on Apr, 6 2006 @ 02:30 AM
Yeah money is the only factor.
Once you have money you can develop the expertise,experience etc. etc. considering you have the intellect to do so. That is uniform anyways.
And those MCA models are mostly preliminary designs.

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