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Could you use something similar to fly back through the atmosphere without having to use heat tiles or heat shields?
That is one of at least two possibilities (that electrifying the wing might reduce drag). Another possibility is that it could be done to alter (reduce) the radar reflection.
There are many who believe that this technology is already in use by the B2 bomber platform.
The reason for charging the leading edge and exhaust is secret. But there is no shortage of ideas.
For reasons not yet de-classified, the B-2 charges its leading edge to a very high electrical potential difference from its exhaust stream.
It has been suggested (by Jane's Defence) that it augments the B-2's low thrust main engines. It is also a well known phenomenon that an ionised gas (plasma) will scatter a radar beam far more effectively than a solid surface of any conceivable shape. This could be the purpose of the high voltage leading edge. Another possibility is that it is for the purpose of reducing drag, since the leading edge of the B-2 might then move through a partial vacuum of ionised air which may be ionised and repelled by the high voltage. In any case, it is however true that Northrop engineers conducted wind tunnel tests using high voltage on a testbed wing leading edge to reduce supersonic drag as far back as 1968. These tests were with a view to breaking up the airflow ahead of the wing using electrical forces in order to soften a sonic boom. How this applies (if indeed it does at all) to the B-2 after an interval of many years is uncertain.
Experiments were conducted in a Mach 2.5 wind tunnel to explore the modification effect on the shock wave structure by a plasma spike generated by an on-board 60Hz electric discharge in front of a 60° cone-shaped model, which is used as a shock wave generator. Due to cyclic nature of the generated plasma an unsteady shock motion during one discharge period was observed. The pronounced influence of plasma on the shock structure is clearly demonstrated by the result, at the peak of the discharge, showing a transformation of the shock from a well defined attached shock into a classic highly curved bow shock structure, which also appears in diffused form. Experimental results exclude the heating effect as a possible cause of the observed shock wave modification. A theory using a wedge model as the shock generator is developed to introduce a non-heating mechanism responsible for the observed plasma effect on shock waves. Analysis shows that the plasma spike can effectively deflect the incoming flow before the flow reaches the wedge consequently the shock structure in the interaction region is modified from an oblique one to a slightly curved one. The shock front moves upstream with a larger shock angle, consistent with the experimental results.
reply to post by crzayfool
Okay, your post sounds pretty freaking awesome if you actually witnessed something like that. If you don't mind me asking, where did you see this demonstration? Details? Photos / Video clips?
You've sparked my curiosity!
originally posted by: crzayfool
reply to post by Xeven
If you could control it yes.
I saw a demonstration of this about 10 years back.