"Sea Shadow" or Project IX-529. Was he that bad?
Whether the homegrown "experts" are so right is worth investigating, since unsuccessful projects existed in all countries, but only those who do nothing at all are not mistaken. For even buying from those who produce the technique themselves, you can swoop in very sensitively. How one country swooped in and decided to order landing ships from another. And how nothing came of it, except for a small scandal. And the ships eventually went to a third country.
It is customary to look at the "Sea Shadow" or the IX-529 project in this way: failure from all sides, dismantled for metal and did not really give out and did not show anything.
And is it so?
To begin with, it's generally worth understanding where the wings grow from. And the wings are a normal and common thing for the Lockheed Martin Company, which has been engaged in aircraft since the Second World War.
And this company decided to create a stealth plane. And created, thereby, back in the 80s of the last century, setting the vector of development for aircraft. And today it is very difficult to imagine an airplane that lacks stealth technology. At least in modern designs.
Was Nighthawk a bad project? Well it has been used in several conflicts, and has been used successfully. One downed plane in five conflicts is not much. Considering how many Iraqi targets were hit by the F-117 during the Gulf War.
One can argue for a long time, but the "Nighthawk" was for its time a successful aircraft, which gave the US air superiority for a long time.
And Lockheed Martin decided that it would be nice to spread stealth technology not only in the air, but also in other areas.
Oddly enough, it was decided to start the "Lockheed" from submarines. Yes exactly. After the planes, work began on the stealth of submarines.
Naturally, stealth technology in the air is very different from the problems of stealth for submarines. Radar beams work in the air, and hydroacoustic stations waves in the water.
And Lockheed created a stealth submarine project. Incredible, but true: the engineers of the airline were able to solve the problem of detecting a submarine using a sonar method. It was then that the method of covering the boat hull with special compounds was developed and shown as a model, which absorbed 95% of sound waves from hydroacoustic stations.
After receiving test data on models, "Lockheed Martin" showed their developments to the US Department of Defense. However, the idea "did not enter" there. The fact is that the submarine processed according to the "L-M" method was indeed less noticeable for hydroacoustic stations, but its speed was almost half that of the usual one.
The Defense Ministry decided that this was unacceptable. However, experts from the scientific and technical sector of the Ministry of Defense, DARPA, suggested that the company pay attention to surface ships. The offer, of course, won over, but ...
But "LM" decided "why not?" and got out the blueprints for the Nighthawk. After all, radars from aircraft and surface ships are the same in principle, they are not acoustic signals from hydrophones. And the environment is the same.
In general, there was an idea to take the F-117 and make a stealth ship out of it. It was planned to take such a stealth profile from the aircraft, maximum automation in order to reduce the crew, new methods of ship control.
It was not planned to build a battleship, the "Sea Shadow" was supposed to be an exclusively experienced ship, that is, a testing ground for various experiments.
Happened. Lockheed Martin (perhaps with the words “Why not?”) Built THIS.
It really was some crazy mix of Nighthawk and the landing barge. Structurally, it was a splendid experiment, although it smelled like madness. Judge for yourself.
The topside, very similar to the F-117 hull, rested on two underwater hulls, similar to beer eggplants.
The hulls are very narrow, this is done in order to minimize the most important unmasking factor: the wake. The supporting structures, connecting the surface hull with the underwater hull at an angle of 45 degrees, not only increased the lateral stability of the vessel, but also reduced its RCS - a characteristic of radar signature.
The hull of the ship had a special structure, which made the radar beam not reflect back, but, as it were, go to the side. The bow and stern ends were also planned in such a way as to reflect the beams of any radar somewhere into infinity. The main thing is not to the antennas of the receivers.
Plus, a special composition was developed that absorbed the radar beams, which covered the entire hull, and especially the joints of the hull structures. Typically, it is these places that are vulnerable points for radars, from which the rays are reflected best.
A very original system of curtain of the smallest splashes around the ship was also developed. This curtain greatly reduced the visibility of the heat trail from the ship's engines. Probably, it is not necessary to say that this could be important, because many missiles are guided precisely along the heat trail of either a ship or an aircraft.
Plus, the spray cloud blocked the radiation of high-frequency radars quite well (in theory).
In general, it turned out a semi-ship-semi-aircraft.
The seaworthiness was quite, mainly due to the double underwater hull with screws on the eggplants. During the tests, the "Sea Shadow" showed that the sea agitation up to 6 points and waves up to 5,5 meters in height are not afraid of it. And the ship behaves pretty well in such excitement. The Shadow's speed reached 28 knots. Not god knows what, but again, this is an experimental ship.
The minimization of the crew also affected. Inside "Sea Shadow" had quite comfortable working places for the crew, which consisted of 12 people. But with almost all the amenities.
In general, four people were more than enough to manage the ship. Why place twelve is hard to say, the Sea Shadow was not designed for long trips. But nevertheless, there were 12 sleeping places inside, a kitchen, a sanitary block.
For over 10 years, Sea Shadow has participated in various stealth tests. In 1993, the ship was first shown to the general public. But before that, America was well shaken by calls from citizens who unexpectedly saw "Sea Shadow" going out for trials. "Alien Floating Ship" is the simplest call from dazed citizens.
The first ten years "Sea Shadow" was taken out for testing using a dock ship, and since 1993, "Sea Shadow" began to go out for testing without observing the secrecy regime. And America got a little carried away.
And then it was over. It really ended in 2012, when the ship was disassembled into its components. And there and then the cries began on both sides of the ocean that, they say, polymers of that, and money of that, and in general.
In fact, we look at the facts.
For more than 10 years, "Sea Shadow" was irradiated with all types of radars and conclusions were drawn about which shape of the hull and coating is most beneficial for the ship of the future. And the ship of the future appeared. And not alone.
For a start, you can look at Zamvolt.
There are so many developments from "Sea Shadow" in it, we can say that the invisibility of the destroyer was based on the invisibility of the "Shadow". Then there was the Freedom, a littoral ship, the stealth of which was also given a lot of attention.
And the F-35, which is obviously much better than the F-22 and just has the right to some sane future.
So how bad was Sea Shadow? Yes, and to what extent did the $ 195 million go down the tube or drown at sea?
This is a very interesting question.
Yes, today you can grumble enough about the fact that the Zamvolt is a worthless ship. And the F-35 is a very "so-so" plane. And both have one problem - no price / quality ratio.
However, a very important question: could there be new ships and new aircraft without the "Sea Shadow" not lugging around at night in the Bay of San Diego? Or a completely useless and very expensive F-22 appeared.
This is fine. This is called "progress". This is the development of military technology. This is the future. Why certain processes were worked out on "Sea Shadow", we do not know for sure. But the fact that they were being worked out is a fact. And who said that all sorts of miracles, from "Mermaid" to "Poseidon", are not crammed in our secret hangars? Quite, you know, possibly.
The Americans are great. Having poured in a huge amount of dollars, they may not have received anything right away. More precisely, they received knowledge for the future. And if in the future they can realize this knowledge, it will be very unpleasant for those who find themselves on the other side of the barricade. That is, on our side. We will always be on the other side of this very North Atlantic barricade. But there is nothing to be done, you have to answer by creating your own "night wolverines" and other things that will make potential people think in the same way.
The main thing is that everything created is real and not animated.
Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest news and the most important events of the day.