The stealth technology of America's fifth-generation jet fighters, the F-22 and the F-35, could be obsolete after a new discovery from the University of Rochester in New York.
One main goal of fifth-generation aircrafts is to slip through skies over enemy lines without being targeted. It's not invisible, but elusive, and digitally feisty.
The F-35's lineup of electronic tools, work toward that end, by using a variety of sophisticated and devastating radar defeating moves. Combined with internal weapons storage, special composite skin, and reduced angles of design, the fighter does all it can to work past the weaknesses in today's aircraft detection. Lockheed Martin designers, however, did not plan for this University of Rochester research.
The U of R doesn't look to use a radar wave but instead a quantum image gleaned through a string of photons that boomerang out and back, telling operators everything they've seen. This process can't be jammed, confused, or eluded and rather than get absorbed, reflected, or even restructured to look like something else the photons supposedly report back with only the facts.
Operators then compare elements of the beam when it left, with what the same quantum nuggets look like when they get back.
Clearly it's more technical than this and involves quantum properties of photons, and physics I can barely imagine, but that's the gist of it.
Researchers say their system isn't yet perfect and can theoretically be compromised, but that's something to address down the road.
In the meantime they have a new quantum imaging system that can "be added relatively quickly and cheaply to existing systems."
Whether that's true or not, the results prompted military aviation News site Alert 5 to call it "unjammable aircraft detection."
This won't be good news to Lockheed Martin and F-35 proponents. It's no secret the F-35 has been hit by its share of problems and cost overruns. Canada just announced its plans to consider other aircraft to replace an aging fleet and Australia's delayed their F-35 order so often that delivery Down Under is as distant as it is obscure.
If stealth becomes no longer possible, then a major selling point of the troubled F-35 project will become an expensive waste.
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