Developments of Russia and China can make useless the American technology "stealth"
The technology of low radar visibility for many years was the basis of the American understanding of high-tech warfare, but in the next few years it may become unnecessary. This is the conclusion reached in his report by former Pentagon General Evaluation Officer and current analyst at the Washington Center for Strategic and Budgetary Evaluations Barry Watts. A review of his report is published on the Danger Room website.
“The benefits of stealth technology ... can be offset by advances in radar and anti-aircraft missile systems, especially in manned platforms used in defended airspace,” Watts warns in his 43 page report “Military Revolution Published last week.
For the United States Air Force, which has relied on low-visibility technology and invested half a trillion dollars in related products for the next 30 years, this could be a blow. The Navy will get a chance to foolish in the style of "we warned you" - if the Watts forecast comes true, of course.
"In recent years, the issue that the development of radar detection and tracking technologies in the near future will compensate for the possibility of B-2, F-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft in the airspace of the enemy) has been widely discussed,” writes Watts in his report.
These new developments include meter and decimeter radars, which are being developed by Russia and China, as well as a “passive detection” system, invented by Czech scientists. The latter "uses a variety of radiation to detect this type of aircraft, which they can reflect, including cellular, television, and radar signals," explains Watts.
These new detection methods could end the 30-year superiority of the US Air Force over the enemy's aircraft, which appeared with the launch of the F-117 stealth fighter at the end of the 1980s. and supported by the adoption of the B-1990 aircraft in 2, and then the F-22.
Until now, the United States Air Force adopted only a few hundred aircraft of low visibility, which is why constantly had to upgrade fighters that are not equipped with this technology. In the coming decades, the Air Force is planning to purchase more than 1700 F-35 fighters (100 million dollars apiece) and up to hundreds of new stealth bombers from Lockheed Martin. Such arithmetic demonstrates that the era of stealth planes is just beginning - just when the opposition to them is almost created.
While the Air Force is very likely put on the wrong horse, the Navy, on the contrary, in the current situation are in a safer position. While the Air Force invested in the development of technologies of low visibility, the Navy approached the problem from the other side. The Air Force thought about how to elude the radar, and the Navy came up with the means of their noise suppression and destruction using rockets. It is for this reason that only the Navy has aircraft designed to destroy enemy radar, and the Navy still hasn’t and (until the introduction of the F-35C) there will be no stealth aircraft.
This difference in approaches is most clearly manifested in the development of combat jet UAVs by the Pentagon. The Northrop UAV X-47 UAV is made with minimal use of low-visibility technology. The option for the Air Force - Boeing Phantom Ray - in some ways is as subtle for radars as F-35.
According to Watts, the Air Force still has a chance to benefit from investments in stealth technology. The likelihood of its implementation depends on two possibilities, which according to the plans should have F-35.
First, it is the aircraft’s sensory complex and its computational power, which, as Watts explains, can be easily upgraded, thanks to the aircraft’s open-air avionics architecture, which allows the F-35 to be promptly modified in response to emerging threats. Neither the F-177 nor the B-2 had such capabilities.
Secondly, it is a radar with an antenna array with electronic scanning, which theoretically can be used to suppress enemy radars and even able to inject malicious codes into their control system.
None of these technologies apply to low visibility, but they will complement the F-35's ability to absorb and deflect radar. The Air Force was forced to add these capabilities to the stealth plane in order to increase its ability to survive.
Watts does not mention another way to maintain the advantage of low visibility - to accelerate the development of UAVs, which, due to their small size, are by definition less perceptible for the enemy radar than any manned aircraft.
It should also be noted that America’s major rivals do not doubt the need to create airplanes using low radar signature technology. Both Russia and China over the past two years have presented their prototypes of such fighters.
“The end of the era of stealth technology,” as Watts calls it, is only one of the fundamental changes that may occur in the near future in the ways of waging war. And they may not happen - or happen, but in a completely different direction ...
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