Stealth aircrafts are aircrafts that has stealth technology on it. They usually used in several low and moderate-intensity conflicts between countries. In each case they were employed to strike high-value targets that were either out of range of conventional aircraft or were too heavily defended for conventional aircraft without a risk of loss. The example of the operations that used stealth aircrafts for accomplish the mission are Operation Desert Storm, Operation Allied Force, and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Furthermore, things that can be discussed on stealth technology on aircrafts are what it is and how it works, the methods stealth aircrafts can be detected and the limitations of stealh technology on aircrafts.
Stealh technology is a technology to interfere with radar detection with the combination of features to reduce visibility and audibility of things. Stealth technology was found in the 17th century and was used as a form of camouflage that applied into things. Stealh is also known as Low Observable technology or they called it LO Technology. It means that stealth was created to make something to be undetectable by radars or other detection methods. It also means that it will be very difficult to detect things that using stealth technology, especially with normal radars because of its low capability level to detect stealth.
Stealth technology usually used as the military tactics that can make ships, aircrafts, submarines or even missiles to be invisible to radar or other detection methods. Aircrafts are the example of things where stealth can be applied into. There are many aircrafts that using stealth technology as the main technology that supports them. Horten Ho 229 Flying Wing Fighter Bomber is the first plane that used stealth technology on it. There are also many stealh aircrafts that is under development by the military. For instance, F-35 Lightning II , Sukhoi PAK FA, FGFA, Shenyang J-XX and also Mitsubshi ATD-X which all of them has their own unique abilities as a stealth aircraft.
Stealth aircrafts usually designed to operate without any indications to the enemy, but giving the indications as the presence of friendly forces. The concept was first explored through camouflage by blending into the background visual clutter and attack without being detected. Stealth aircrafts have the technology to avoid radar detection because they used Radar Absorbent Material ( RAM ). The materials which can make the stealth can't be detected using the normal radar range and capability. This material can also absorp radiated energy from ground or air radar station into the coating and convert it to heat, it doesn't reflect the radiated energy back to the radar station like the normal material does, but it converts the energy into heat that make the radar station can't detect where the stealth aircraft is. In other words, stealth aircrafts are optimized for defeating high-range and frequency radars that have the capability to detect stealth even stealth only can be detected if the position of the aircrafts at short ranges around the radars.
Aircraft which using the stealth technology can also be detected with several ways. The first method to detect stealth aircrafts is using the reflected waves method. Reflected waves produced by monostatic radars. The waves will be able to detect stealth using the spreading waves that come out from the monostatic radars. It will give the position of the aircraft, if the aircraft go pass through the waves and make the wave's position change from its start position. Because the position of the waves was changed, it will give the information where the stealth aircraft is. The other method that can be used to detect stealth aircrafts is using the infrared devices to achieve heat or emission that come out from the stealth exhaust afterburners. The heat that was at the very high degree level that come out from the exhaust of the aircraft make it possible and easier to detect it. Stealh aircrafts can also be detected by using the sky wave radar system with the theory of wave lenght match. The holland company was found this method has the capability to detect stealth aircrafts. They use the wave length match theory to detect stealth that still moving in the air. This theory is using the wave that come out from the movement of the aircraft and match the length of it to know where the position of the aircraft is. Actually, this theory has one problem to be used.It is still unproven and untested yet by that company. It was all just the theory that believed can be used to detect stealth.
Another method to detect stealth aircraft is Using the OTH Radar (Over the Horizon radar). OTH Radar is designed to have more radar's effective range to detect things with stealth technology better than conventional radars. It is a design concept for high range radar systems to allow them to detect targets at very long ranges, typically up to thousands of kilometers, but it is still difficult to detect stealth using this kind of radar, because stealth aircrafts are designed to defeat high range radar like OTH Radar and stealth can only be detected if the aircrafts were close to the radar. There is only one in a history of stealth aircraft, where F-117 could be tracked and was shot down during an operation. It happened on 27 March 1999, during the Operation Allied Force. An Isayev S-125 "Neva-M" missile that was fired at an American F-117 and successfully brought the aircraft down.
Stealth aircraft also have several limitations on it. The First limitation of stealth aircraft is it has the instability on design. Stealth aircraft designed to minimalize the radar cross section, which means that it was made to become undetectable to radars. They designed with the materials that will reduce the radar detection. The material cause highly stealth aircrafts designed aerodynamically unstable in all three axes and require flight system corrections to maintain controlled flight. This will make stealth aircrafts hard to be controlled properly. The other limitation is it was lack on afterburners. Afterburners that produced by the earlier version of stealth aircraft was at the high degree of heat. It will increase their infrared footprint and radar cross section so that they will be able to be detected. Stealth aircraft also has too many electronic emissions. They used a very high level of computerization and also equipped with so many electronic equipments inside in it. The electronic emissions that produced by it will cause them to be vurnerable to radar and also infrared devices for searching the emissions that come out from its exhaust. Stealth aircraft also will be able to be detected soon. Using the technology OTH radar ( Over The Horizon ) radar it will become vulnerable. OTH radar has a very high capability range level to be able to detect stealth aircrafts. Even today, the radar capability for seeking stealth is still not be able to catch the movement speed that as fast as the stealth aircraft speed, but soon OTH radar will be able to do it better than today. Researchers for the equipments that can be used to detect stealth also still in progress to find the other ways to detect stealth aircrafts.
Stealth aircrafts high cost of maintenance is one of the limitations that stealth aircrafts have. Stealth aircrafts are categorized as a high-maintenance equipment. It depends on maintaining a high level of detail in every aspect of aircraft maintenance. So, for the maintenance of stealth its not only take more money to do it, but also take more hours and concentrations of work to maintain stealth aircrafts well. The cost of maintenance is not the only problem, but also the cost of operations. Stealth aircrafts are very expensive to develop and manufacture. While the operation starts, it will need high cost for the fuels and the other military equipment that carried on it. The military equipments that put on the stealth is choosed carefully because it has to be the equipments that not too weight and not too big. Stealth also carries all of the armament equipments internally, which means that all of it were carried inside the aircraft for the purpose of the mission. It will reduce the load ability inside the aircraft, so that we can just carry more small amount of things inside the stealth aircraft.
For the conclusion, Stealth technology usually used in several low and moderate intensity conflicts between countries. Stealth aircrafts usually designed to operate without any indications to the enemy, but giving the indications as the presence of friendly forces. Stealth Technology on aircrafts has several limitations. The instability of design, lack on afterburners, too many electronic emissions, the cost of maintenances and operations, It has small capability for payload and also will be able to be detected soon. There are also several methods to detect stealt. For instance, using the reflected waves methods, infrared device to detect heat, using Over The Horizon Radar, and the theory of wavelenght match even it is still unproven and untested. There is only one one case that stealth aircraft was shot down. It was Stealth F-117 Nighthawk which was shot down using the "Neva-M" missile and successfully brought it down.