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A short history of military stealth technology through the ages

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The Lockheed Martin F-22a Raptor fighter jet is the pinnacle of modern stealth technology. Featuring the absolute latest in radar absorbent covering and aircraft design, this plane not only defies, but also laughs at enemy attempts to spot it, showing up as a blip the same size as a marble would on radar. Throughout the ages, it has not been he with the bigger stick who won the war, but he with the stick that could not be seen. Stealth technology and camouflage have been an integral part of warfare from when man first waged war, but how have advances from ancient technology led us to what we have today? Evolving from hiding in a bush to the Japanese Ninja’s ability to simply disappear in the surroundings to modern military camouflage dress to the F-22 and beyond, the ability to conceal oneself from the enemy is an observable advantage in wars throughout history. However, what technologies led us to what now exist? Who first discovered how it works, who was the first to use it, and how indeed does modern stealth technology work? How has camouflage come to make it so that soldiers and vehicles can simply disappear? For everyone from assassins to military members, the ability to go unseen is a valuable technology with a long history.

The first widely recorded use of what could be said is camouflage came with the Ninjas of feudal Japan. Though few actual written records exist of these shadowy assassins, records of their stealth and knowledge in the art of staying hidden live on. Masters in the art of not remaining unseen, the Ninja would “use any type of clothing that would get them closer to the mission goal“(EnterTheNinja.com). This could include not only the standard black pajamas many a person associates with the shadowy assassi...

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...designed to simulate the effect of radar waves on different surfaces (CentannialOfFlight.gov). this was a marked advancement in stealth technology, because for the first time scientists realized that utilizing faceted surfaces, they could scatter almost all radar waves the hit an object away from the source thus making the said object invisible to radar detection, or nearly so. In 1977, this discovery was utilized in a new airframe for the F-117 Nighthawk. This new plane was designed entirely to avoid enemy electronic detection. With a revolutionary faceted design coated with RAM, or radar absorbent materials, the new plane was near-invisible to radar detection, and a new type of exhaust system lessened the heat trail coming from the plane’s engines, making for the first time an aircraft with a minimal infrared signature in addition to its minimal radar signature.