The Science of Stealth

The most classified technology in a stealthy airplane is its skin

(USAF / John Rossino)

Complex Coatings


Although some features of the SR-71 Blackbird were designed to reduce its radar cross section—smoothing the sides of the fuselage into chines and canting the vertical stabilizers inward—it cannot be considered a stealthy aircraft. It did employ a type of RAM, known as “iron ball,” containing molecules of carbonyl iron ferrite.

Although the composition of coatings on stealth aircraft flying today is classified, the B-2 Spirit bomber, F-22 Raptor, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have skins that are complex and costly variations on the formulas, materials, and application techniques designed generations ago for the SR-71 Blackbird.


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