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New and unconventional imaging systems may render the newest US stealth fighters obsolete before they ever see combat.
The stealth technology of America's fifth generation jet fighters the F-22 and the F-35 could be obsolete after a new discovery from the University of Rochester, in New York.
One of fifth generation aircrafts' prime goals is to slip through skies over enemy lines without being targeted. It's not invisible, but elusive, and digitally feisty.
The F-35's lineup of electronic tools, work toward that end, by using a variety of sophisticated and devastating radar defeating moves. Combined with internal weapons storage, special composite skin, and reduced angles of design, the fighter does all it can to work past the weaknesses in today's aircraft detection. Lockheed Martin designers, however, did not plan for this University of Rochester research.
The U of R doesn't look to use a radar wave but instead a quantum image gleaned through a string of protons that boomerang out and back, telling operators everything they've seen. This process can't be jammed, confused, or eluded and rather than get absorbed, reflected, or even restructured to look like something else the photons will always report the truth.
What operators do is compare basic elements of the beam when it left, with what the same quantum nuggets look like when they get back.
Of course it's more technical than this and involves quantum properties of photons, and physics I can't even imagine, but that's the gist of it.
Researchers say their system isn't yet perfect and can theoretically be compromised, but that's something to address down the road.
In the meantime they have a new quantum imaging system that can "be added relatively quickly and cheaply to existing systems."
This won't be good news to Lockheed Martin and F-35 proponents. It's no secret the F-35 has been hit by its share of problems and cost overruns. Canada just announced its plans to consider other aircraft to replace an aging fleet and Australia's delayed their F-35 order so often that delivery Down Under is as distant as it is obscure.
If stealth becomes no longer possible, then a major selling point of the troubled F-35 project will become an expensive waste.