The Science of Stealth
The most classified technology in a stealthy airplane is its skin.
- By Roger A. Mola
- Air & Space magazine, September 2013
Sandia Nat'l Laboratories / Randy Montoya
A technician guides a paint sprayer to coat an F-117 Nighthawk. Painting the first F-117 took five workers five days; thereafter, a team at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico developed a precise, machine-delivery system. The applicator, which rode on a 30-foot rail, had sensors that compared details of the airframe, such as the intersection of angular facets, to a three-dimensional computer model.
Stealth coatings are now applied by robot. Sensors report any condition that could cause flaws in the finish, such as variations in flow rates.