Beating Stealth

Suddenly visible? (Shutterstock photo)

Suddenly visible?
(Shutterstock photo)

China and Russia are counting on UAVs with low-frequency radar to defeat the stealth technology built into America’s fifth-generation fighter jets:

While at the MAKS show in Moscow this week, Flight Global spoke with Vladimir Mikheev, the first deputy chief executive officer of the electronic systems producer KRET, about a new UAV being shown at the show, which KRET is a subcontractor on. During the interview, Mikheev said the new (thus far, unnamed UAV) is similar to China’s Divine Eagle in that it uses low frequency radars to detect low-observable stealth aircraft like the F-35, F-22 and B-2 bomber. Most stealth aircraft are created to evade high-frequency radar systems.

The Russian UAV goes a step further by integrating a sophisticated electronic warfare suite onto the aircraft. According to Flight Global, “Mikheev says KRET is providing a deeply-integrated electronic warfare system that not only provides a protective electromagnetic sphere around the aircraft to counter air-to-air missiles, but also cloaks it from radars.” Thus, if true, Russia’s new UAV would be able to detect America’s stealth aircraft without itself being detected. That could be a deadly combination.

It’s one thing to put enough low-frequency waves in the air to beat low- observability materials and designs. But this is the first I’ve heard of a “protective electromagnetic sphere” as a sort of cloaking device for a drone. And then there’s the question that if a Russian UAV can have that, why can’t an F-22?

Frankly though it all sounds a bit sci-fi — anyone care to educate me on this one?

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