posted on Jun, 21 2004 @ 01:28 PM
The US Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and
Northrop Corp. teamed up for the TACIT BLUE Technology Demonstration
Program from 1978 to 1985. TACIT BLUE validated a number of innovative
stealth technology advances. Most notably, it was the first aircraft
to demonstrate a low radar cross section using curved surfaces,
along with a low probability of intercept radar and data link.
TACIT BLUE initially was created to demonstrate that a low observable
surveillance aircraft with a low probability of intercept radar
and other sensors could operate close to the forward line of battle
with a high degree of survivability. Such an aircraft could continuously
monitor the ground situation behind the battlefield and provide
targeting information in real-time to a ground command center.
TACIT BLUE was one of the most successful technology demonstrator
programs in Air Force history, meeting all program objectives and
most low observable and sensor performance goals. The aircraft made
its first flight in February 1982, and subsequently logged 135 flights
over a three year period. The aircraft often achieved three to four
flights weekly and several times flew more than once a day.
TACIT BLUE featured a straight, tapered wing with a Vee tail mounted
on an oversized fuselage with a curved shape. It had a wingspan
of 48.2 feet and a length of 55.8 feet and weighed 30,000 pounds.
A single flush inlet on the top of the fuselage provided air to
two high-bypass turbofan engines. TACIT BLUE employed a quadruply-redundant,
digital fly-by-wire flight control system to help stabilize the
aircraft about the longitudinal and directional axes.
The TACIT BLUE program cost approximately $165 million and covered
development, construction and flight test. As the prime contractor,
Northrop received a $136 million contract to provide one complete
technology demonstrator and a partially-developed back-up airframe.
The program provided valuable engineering data that aided in the
B-2 "Spirit" design.
Orignal press release:
Air Force Unveils TACIT BLUE Stealth Aircraft
AIR FORCE UNVEILS STEALTH TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATOR
Release No. 01-04-96
April 30, 1996
Washington DC -- The Air Force announced today one of its most
successful technology demonstration programs when it unveiled "TACIT
BLUE"; an aircraft which provided valuable engineering data and
validated innovative stealth technology advances that aided in the
B-2 design, as well as other platforms. The once highly-classified
program ran from 1978 to 1985 and was unveiled today because the
technologies and capabilities are currently in operational use and
knowledge of the program no longer needs protection.
The team included experts from the United States Air Force and
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The program cost approximately
$165 million and was executed under a contract to Northrop Corp.
as the prime contractor. TACIT BLUE was developed and tested at
several different locations and flown by both Air Force and contractor
"TACIT BLUE was a leading edge program that took innovative stealth
technologies out of laboratory and onto the flightline. The team
of professionals who worked on this successful program serve as
an example of the what can be achieved when industry and government
work together," said Arthur L. Money, Assistant Secretary of the
Air Force (Acquisition).
TACIT BLUE featured a straight, tapered wing with a "Vee" tail
mounted on an oversized fuselage with a curved shape. It had a wingspan
of approximately 48 feet and a length of 55 feet and weighed 30,000
pounds. A single flush inlet on the top of the fuselage provided
air to two high-bypass turbofan engines. Only one complete airframe
was ever flown, although a second airframe shell was constructed
to serve as a backup.
Source information used with permission
from the Department Of The Air Force