First News - - Science News - by Ed­die de Oliveira

The B-2 Spirit, a US stealth bomber. The B-21 will be even more stealthy

THE United States Depart­ment of De­fense is plan­ning to in­tro­duce Star Trek-style ‘in­vis­i­ble’ planes that can­not be de­tected by radar, a de­tec­tion sys­tem that uses ra­dio waves.

Amer­i­can en­gi­neers have been asked to come up with bat-shaped bombers and re­fu­elling air­craft that can ‘cloak’ them­selves to es­cape en­emy radar, just like Ro­mu­lan and Klin­gon alien space­ships in the sci-fi se­ries, Star

Trek. The alien races in the TV show de­vel­oped a pow­er­ful en­ergy screen that could make their space­craft in­vis­i­ble to sen­sors.

What seemed like science fic­tion may now be­come science re­al­ity, as the new gen­er­a­tion of bat-shaped B-21 bombers are be­ing de­vel­oped at a US Air Force base in the Cal­i­for­nian desert. Around 100 of the bombers will be built at a cost of $550 mil­lion (£413 mil­lion) each.

The Rus­sians are lead­ing the way with in­vis­i­ble air­craft. Their air­craft can van­ish from radar, and their air force use su­per-sen­si­tive radars that have a range of up to 340 miles (547km). Ear­lier this year, the first Rus­sian stealth fighter, the Sukhoi Su-57 – nick­named Ghost – was un­veiled.

So how will the B-21 planes be­come ‘in­vis­i­ble’? The trick is to fool radar de­tec­tors into think­ing the plane is not there, or is in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent, false lo­ca­tion. To do this, Amer­i­can sci­en­tists are work­ing on a highly ad­vanced ma­te­rial for the frame of the B-21 bombers that can ab­sorb ra­dio waves. They also want to in­tro­duce a cool­ing sys­tem that would re­duce the plane’s heat, help­ing it avoid de­tec­tion by heat sen­sors.

A Klin­gon from Star Trek

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