Stealth finally meets its match

A US Marine Corps pilot posits in a very good new issue of Joint Forces Quarterly that the age of stealth domination in airpower is over.

Since the 1991 Gulf War, the USAF has launched thousands of stealth bombing sorties against the hardest targets offered by Baghdad, Belgrade and Baghdad again, yet suffered only one recorded combat loss when an F-117 was shot down over Serbia in 1999. Perhaps no other technology in history has dominated the battlefield as long or as absolutely as the stealthy airframe.

But technology marches on. Ask any World War II battleship captain. Lt. Col. Arend G. Westra, a plans officer at the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, writes that counter-stealth technology — namely, passive radar — is quietly achieving parity with the likes of the B-2, the F-22 and, eventually, the F-35.

Westra makes another important point. If there is a classified counter-stealth development program underway, it’s not apparent from reading Westra’s article. He argues that the US military and industry needs to launch a crash technology program. If anything, the technology could be leveraged to understand the techniques potential adversaries could use to shoot down our stealth aircraft.

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9 Responses to Stealth finally meets its match

  1. Dimitris 28 September, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    A few years ago, I had written a summary of counter-stealth systems and tactics alike, as part of an overall presentation on the theory & practice of stealth.

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

  2. SMSgt Mac 29 September, 2009 at 7:19 am #

    Nothing new there- Just a backgrounder brief for your average joe field grade reminding everyone that technology marches forward.
    The author could be a CEM expert par excellence, (given some euphemistic rambling in the piece I doubt it) but noting he is a ‘pilot’ does nothing for his credibility in the eyes of anyone who has known more than a few meat-servos.

  3. Truthful James 29 September, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    Dimitris –

    Your references are so stealthy as to be unreadable because they are encryted — you know, the stealthy communications system.

  4. Dimitris 29 September, 2009 at 9:13 pm #

    Thanks for the heads up, unfortunately this site attempts to auto-convert the PDFs to Scribd’s whatever-format.
    To read the PDFs properly, open them into a separate browser tab/window (Ctrl + LMB).

  5. Cristian 30 September, 2009 at 6:28 am #

    1) Kolchuga is Ukrainina, not Russian
    2) F 35 has the longest range of all US (and generally Western) fighter plane.

    Those 2 says a lot about the author…

  6. snogglethorpe 1 October, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    I can hardly vouch for the article’s accuracy, but I enjoyed it; it seemed a good overview of important issues for non-specialists (exactly what was intended, I presume).

    Thanks for pointing it out!

  7. SMSgt Mac 1 October, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    And to illustrate that the article contains nothing new to the AF, there is a rundown on the AFs top concerns at Popular Mechanics as attributed to Lt Gen Dave Deptula, who IMHO has had the most distinguished career of any active AF leader: a true scholar-operator.


    Put another way, Petraeus is the Army’s Deptula

  8. Monty Podlas 27 June, 2010 at 4:11 am #

    Not sure that the president should have removed Stanley McChrystal. How will this affect the midterm election?

  9. Pettibon 16 August, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Counting down the days to next Friday so I can get my hands on an iPad.

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