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Published by Adlard Coles Nautical
an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP

Copyright © Christopher Lavers 2012

First published by Adlard Coles Nautical in 2012

ISBN 978-1-4081-7525-5
ePDF 978-1-4081-7553-8
ePub 978-1-4081-7552-1

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means –
graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and
retrieval systems – without the prior permission in writing of the publishers.

The right of the author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

This book is produced using paper that is made from wood grown in managed, sustainable forests.
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Note: while all reasonable care has been taken in the publication of this book, the publisher takes no
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pgauguin(a.k.a. ExLib) :

The LORD lives!

Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God, the Rock, my Saviour!
2 Samuel 22:47 (New International Version – UK)

D3pZ4i & bhgvld, Dennixxx & rosea (for softarchive)

Stole src from http://avaxho.me/blogs/exLib/
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Early Radar Stealth 6
SR-71 8
Measuring Stealth 11
Maximum Detection Range (MDR) and Radar Cross Section 13
Stealth Approaches 19

Dazzle Camouflage and the First World War 30
Origins of Camouflage 36

Radar Metamaterials 54
Optical Metamaterials 59

Infra-red Heat Reduction 66
IRCS Contributors 71
The Laws of Infra-red Emission 78

Magnetic Stealth 82
Degaussing Ships’ Hulls 86


Acoustic Noise 95
Various Environmental Factors 97
Active Sonar 98
Passive Sonar 99
Sonar Comparison 100
Cavitation 102
Future Acoustic Technology 103
Bioluminescence 104
Wake Effects 105
Extremely Low-Frequency (ELF) Signature 108
Likely Future Cross Sections 108
Biologically Inspired Design 109
Emissions Control Policy 111
viii • Contents


Sweden 114
United Kingdom 119
Italian and French Destroyer Variants 128
United States of America 130
India 132
Russia 133
France 134
Saudi Arabia 136
Singapore 136
Germany 137
China 138


Queen Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carrier 142
A Brief History of the Build So Far 144
Radar and Weapons Systems 146
Embarked Fleet Air Arm? 146
Carrier Construction 147
HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) 148
UK FSC or Type 26 Frigate 149
Weapons and Systems 151
Modular and Flexible 151
United States of America 152


I would like to thank the following: Mr John Mc Crae for permission to use Type 45
Destroyer HMS Daring images at various construction stages; Mr Andrew Valente,
Combat Index Webmaster, LLC, Naples, Florida, USA for archive imagery access; and
Mr Kjell Göthe, of Kockums Sweden, for Visby stealth corvette pictures and extensive
material about the class. I would also like to thank the meticulous manuscript checking
and copy editing provided by the editorial services team at MPS Limited, Chennai.

I appreciate the BBC Radio 4 ‘Material World’ team for letting me loose to talk live about
stealth concepts before disappearing ‘on air’ (24th April 2008), which first set me on the
path to this book, and the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Materials which both
published early crafting of ‘stealth’ ideas in 2008 and 2009.

I would like to thank my family motivators and in turn encourage them: Helena for
her work with the disadvantaged of Mexico City, Sam for achieving Ten Tors Gold
and teaching in Tanzania, Sara-Kate for her warmth, and care in Guides, Matt for his
application of talents and introducing me to football and Ben for his love of learning
and stories. I thank them for the few hours of reality each day! Your values and passions
add meaning to my life. I thank my parents for motivating me in the past, believing
I could learn to read even when my teachers said I wouldn’t! Finally, I especially thank
Anne, my wife, for her patience and encouragement; you are the true love of my life.

To all and one I thank you.


The missile navigating by inertial guidance approached with swift self-assurance

the end of its 200 nautical mile pre-programmed journey, and after rapid target
confirmation with its passive thermal imager reaches its objective to devastating
effect. The target, oblivious of its peril, until the final moment of impact, could do
nothing to counter this fatal blow.
Christopher Lavers

The scenario outlined above is not fiction; it is the real high-technology cutting edge
of naval warfare today. For this reason, surface warships incorporated with stealth
technologies take an increasingly vital role to ensure platform survival. Stealth’s
principal aim is to make naval ships ‘invisible’ to an array of increasingly smart detection
systems such as sonar and radar, combining ways that lower a platform’s emissions and
those which eliminate reflected radiation, thus reducing detection range and threat
vulnerability. This book seeks to communicate the latest interesting developments
in stealth technology to a wider audience and to explore the paradigm shift ‘stealth’
represents in terms of warship design. It will focus on the transformational change in
naval architecture, which is simplistically represented in the shape of modern warships,
and dwells less on just providing lots of information or technical detail. Stealth Warship
Technology will also discuss in a little detail something of the history of this subject.
In this book, I will provide an opportunity to develop a better understanding of the
specialist practical issues and skills required in this naval sector. Some opportunity for
basic numerical analysis and problem-solving are included at the end of each chapter
for the more mathematical reader. However, the book is designed for those with
a limited mathematical background in mind; it is my objective to communicate the
fundamental principles of the subject to the many and not to provide tricky maths
problems to solve for the few.

I will discuss several ongoing themes or issues throughout the book: surveillance,
signature and cross section reduction as well as certain aspects of electronic warfare
(EW). Surveillance entails an examination of both radar and infra-red non-imaging
target detection systems as well as the latest visual and thermal imaging systems. The
developments in high-resolution radar imaging cannot be underestimated in their
significance at the beginning of the twenty-first century to future platform survivability.
Introduction • xi

Signature and cross section reduction consideration will investigate the various applied
techniques that have been utilised to date and those which are likely to be employed
to make ship targets less visible to current (and future) generations of surveillance
systems. The topic of EW elicits a double-edged response from the informed reader.
EW involves the role of largely passive electronic support measures (ESM), the ‘listening’
devices which need to be coordinated with further electronic countermeasures (ECM)
(various active and passive techniques available), and is both our best friend and, being
also used by an equally surveillant enemy, perhaps our greatest foe.

The aim of this book is to ‘uncover’ the unto now ‘secret’ area of stealth warship design
and the broader aspects of stealth technology using available public material and to
stress the importance of materials used in the warship’s construction with information
that already exists in the public domain, and how this influences all of a modern naval
platform’s design parameters. Paradoxically, all the basic stealth concepts are easily
accessible on the Internet, with a variety of stealth-related companies discussing their
products in some detail. To a physicist or engineer who knows what they are looking
for, even YouTube videos can now provide significant intelligence on both systems
and their capabilities and mode of operation, saying nothing of the ability of modern
mobile phones to provide a wealth of additional information and influence, as seen
in the Arab Spring of 2011. A working title for this book was initially ‘Electromagnetic
threats to warships’, but this not only fails to grasp the full extent of warship threats
which encompass the traditional role of radar and visual detection, as well as night-
vision devices and thermal imaging capability, but also does not address the acoustic
underwater signature of the ship platform and other less well-known detection methods
such as magnetic signature, bioluminescence, and wake and so on. It must be stressed
from the outset that there has been a significant paradigm shift in warship design in
the past two decades, which has been rather to move away from the view that it is
simply nice to incorporate stealth into warship design as something of an affordable
extra if possible. Instead stealth is now seen to be the critical component around which
the warship is designed, and is certainly the case for the DD(X) Zumwalt-class surface
combatant. However, it is the very cost of stealth that has made the Zumwalt a victim
of its own stealth success, and mitigated against the future of the programme, in favour
of a more traditionally tried and tested warships. The shift in emphasis towards stealth
in current platforms is evidenced through the radical transformation of platform design
between the RN Type 23 frigate and the latest stealth Type 45 Destroyer HMS Daring
as well as the La Fayette-class frigate and Swedish Visby stealth class corvette built
by Kockums.

An able reader or student should be able to describe, discuss and analyse the ways in
which modern and often highly complex sensors and communications systems can
xii • Introduction

have their performance degraded by hostile activities. We will consider the various
design techniques which might be incorporated to negate the effects of these activities
and to reduce likewise the overall probability of a ship’s detection.

Clearly stealth is only a part of the story, as a stealth warship cannot provide the same
sense of intimidating power projection off the coast of a potential enemy if they do not
know that you are there, and neither can stealth ensure platform safety and integrity
once the first salvo is fired. Obviously there is still a significant role to be maintained
in terms of self-protection of a platform, and the increased cost that stealth brings to
the value of the ship asset is only likely to increase the required investment in ship’s
defences, be they long- and short-range missile defence systems, a close-in weapon
system (CIWS) or gun as well as various soft-kill methods at the ship’s disposal. Stealth
can actually provide a range advantage over a variety of sensor systems, and the
reduced signature provides a sufficiently ‘fuzzy picture’ that an enemy may at best
detect you but will be quite unable to classify the threat correctly.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, ‘stealth’ (pronounced: stelth) is

derived from the thirteenth-century ‘Middle English stelthe; akin to Old English stelan
to steal’, with several related meanings.

1 a archaic: theft b obsolete: something stolen

2 the act or action of proceeding furtively, secretly, or imperceptibly ‘the state

moves by stealth to gather information – Nat Hentoff ’

3 the state of being furtive or unobtrusive [and in the context we will be


4 an aircraft-design characteristic consisting of oblique angular construction

and avoidance of vertical surfaces that is intended to produce a very weak
radar return

Stealth technology is also known as low observable technology (LOT) and is a sub-
discipline of ECM, which covers a range of techniques used not just with aircraft, but
includes ships and missiles, in order to make them less visible (ideally invisible) to radar,
infra-red and other detection methods.

There are also issues presented by the class of threat that the stealth warship has
been constructed to deal with, as the most likely asymmetric threats that will present
themselves to warships in the near future are the small (and ironically stealthy) fast
boats manned by pirates, insurgents or terrorists, like those who caused damage to
the USS Cole, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The USS Cole was the target of a terrorist
Introduction • xiii

Ÿ Figure I1 The USS Cole (DDG 67) is towed away from the port city of Aden, Yemen, into open
sea by the Military Sealift Command ocean-going tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168) on 29 October

attack in the port of Aden in October 2000, during a scheduled re-fuelling. The attack
killed 17 crew members and injured 39 others, demonstrating that even a heavily
armed high-tech platform is still vulnerable to relatively simple threats (Figure I1).

As the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote in his The Art of War, dating back to
450 BC and the world’s oldest treatise on military strategy, ‘All warfare is based on
deception’, and certainly warships stealth and signature reduction techniques play an
increasing component in that deception today. Stealth can generally be regarded as any
technique used to reduce reflected sources of radiation, mostly with passive measures,
whilst signature reduction involves methods designed specifically to reduce a ship’s
own emissions – methods which are largely active. In reality, though, the terms ‘stealth’
and ‘signature reduction’ are used fairly interchangeably. The oldest and most successful
recorded reference to deception before the modern era is that illustrated in the book
of Judges (6–7) concerning Gideon who with 300 men, trumpets, torches hidden in jars
and precision timing at the change of the enemy guard routed a much larger force.
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He
returned to the camp of Israel and called out, ‘Get up! The LORD has given the
Midianite camp into your hands.’ 16Dividing the 300 men into 3 companies,
xiv • Introduction

he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches
inside … 19Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the camp
at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard.
They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20The
3 companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches
in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were
to blow, they shouted, ‘A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!’ 21While each
man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as
they fled.

You could even regard this as the first example of coordinated, network-centric
warfare! Certainly the desire for ‘invisibility’ until the final moment of attack has been
a key influence in how warfare has been conducted since ancient times. The military
quest for invisibility appears in Greek mythology: Perseus’ helmet and Gyge’s ring both
rendered their wearers invisible, useful when fighting monsters, and also formed the
basis for the ‘One Ring’ in Tolkien’s famous trilogy The Lord of the Rings. However, such
abilities no longer belong entirely in the realm of fantasy or science fiction such as
Star Trek, as these days the world’s armed forces can draw on sophisticated stealth
techniques to hide themselves from their enemies. Stealth technology seeks to render
military ships, vehicles, men and aircraft ‘invisible’ to modern detection systems, such
as radar and magnetic sensors, by reducing the levels of reflected radiation whilst at
the same time lowering the craft’s own emissions (Figure I2). I will examine the various
applied techniques that have been, and are likely to be, employed to make a platform
less prone to detection. Certainly if these techniques are applied successfully, effective
targeting, although perhaps not impossible, will be highly unlikely, whilst at the same
time countermeasure systems will attempt to deny the enemy the tactical use of the
electromagnetic spectrum (and acoustic spectrum) whilst retaining one’s own use of
military spectral capabilities.

When it comes to an aircraft carrier or large battleship, this is no mean feat. Stealth
works hand in hand with precision, and it is no accident that stealth aircraft today
use precision-guided munitions to great effect. Stealth also works in partnership
with modern decoy systems, as the harder it is to ‘see’ the real target, the more likely
that a decoy system will be selected as the chosen target because of the larger more
attractive signal it may provide. We will start our discussion of stealth with radar, a
sensor many readers will be familiar with, followed by the visible spectrum, infra-
red spectrum, various other spectra and finally an examination of modern stealth
ships themselves.

For me, the real issues of stealth are not driven by academic interest alone but in terms
of considering the safety provided to a vulnerable crew at sea and the preservation and
Introduction • xv

Ÿ Figure I2 Various signatures and cross sections © CR Lavers

security of our personal and national freedoms won at great corporate and individual
cost. If I may paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, I anticipate that for the crews of these
ships in future conflicts, with the vast amount of dedicated research that has gone into
UK stealth warship design, never before will so much be owed by so few to so many
for their survival and perhaps the continued security of our nation and its traditions
as well.

It is as true today as in yesteryear that ‘[i]t is on the Navy under the good providence
of God that our health, prosperity and peace depend’ (Britannia Royal Naval College
motto, above the main college doors).
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[A]head towards London I saw a small, tight formation of bombers completely
encircled by a ring of Messerschmitts. They were still heading north. As I raced
forward, three flights of Spitfires came zooming up from beneath them in a sort of
Prince-of-Wales’s-feathers manoeuvre. They burst through upward and outward,
their guns going all the time. They must have each got one, for an instant later I
saw the most extraordinary sight of eight German bombers and fighters diving
earthward together in flames.
John Beard, ‘Battle of Britain, 1940’ [1]

The story of modern radar and with it the radar technology to counter its effectiveness,
‘stealth’, is where we will begin, arising as it did out of the rearmament of Nazi Germany
in the 1930s and the significant expansion of the German Luftwaffe. The British
government was alarmed at the rapidity of these developments and soon realised that
an aircraft warning system had to be developed and quickly deployed in the likelihood
of imminent war. In January 1935, Sir Robert Watson-Watt was asked whether radio
waves might be used to detect aircraft approaching the shores of England. Sir Watson-
Watt wrote a brief memorandum to the Air Defence Subcommittee of the Committee
of Imperial Defence to promote developments of radio direction finding (DF). Based
on this letter and the supportive efforts of Sir Henry Tizard, a concentrated radar
development programme began in England. In 1937, a prototype radio DF station (later
called the Chain Home (CH) system; Figure 1.1) was built at Bawdsey Research Station
for Royal Air Force (RAF) use. The CH station operated at a relatively low frequency of
22 MHz, and was able to detect propeller-driven aircraft at a modest 3,000 m elevation
and under good atmospheric conditions as far away as 150 km in fine weather but,
due to absorption of radar energy by weather fronts and rain, substantially less in
2 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 1.1 Chain Home command

poor weather. Nonetheless, due to radar’s dramatic ability to increase detection

range beyond the visible horizon and to provide a degree of positional information,
by September 1939, at the outbreak of war some 20 CH command stations were fully
operational. The radar equipment used in the Battle of Britain was developed by a group
of dedicated scientists initially based at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington
(still providing measurement standards to this day). Under the guidance of Sir Robert
Watson-Watt (Figure 1.2), they were not only able to detect reflected radio waves from
moving bomber aircraft but were also most importantly able to develop a system of
practical operational procedures for using it.

This approach was vital and probably first realised by Sir Henry Tizard, who had been
chairman of the committee on the scientific study of the defence of Britain that was
responsible for launching Watson-Watt on the radar path. To tackle the problem, Tizard
obtained use of the RAF’s No. 32 Squadron stationed at Biggin Hill in Kent. They carried
out a series of trials using the first CH radar system, developing the control procedures
to intercept unsuspecting targets such as civilian Dutch KLM airliners, but kept the radar
emissions directed well away from Lufthansa flights to avoid alerting the Germans! The
Radar • 3

Ÿ Figure 1.2 Sir Robert Watson-Watt

Ÿ Figure 1.3 German Heinkel He 111s which went into service in 1937
4 • Stealth Warship

procedures developed during this experiment were those later used by British aircraft
controllers during the strategically important Battle of Britain fought fiercely from the
summer of 1940 well into the autumn (10 July–31 October 1940) (Figure 1.3).

This was indisputably the first modern example of a network-centric warfare, where the
assets of a significantly depleted RAF were able to be accurately vectored to intercept
German bomber aircraft. This uncanny ability of the British RAF to intercept German
Luftwaffe sorties led the German’s high command to gain the false impression that
Britain had a much larger air force and was partly responsible for the abandonment of
the planned Nazi invasion of Britain (Operation Sea Lion). It was this combination of
the hardware and operational ‘software’ in use that made radar so vital and successful
to the British. The German failure to achieve its objective of the complete annihilation
of Britain’s air defences, or indeed an outright surrender, is rightly considered a critical
turning point in the Second World War and stiffened British determination and defiance.

The basic principle of radar, or more strictly echo location, is quite simple. Visible
light, of which we are all familiar, is but part of a wider family of waves which form the
electromagnetic spectrum (Figure 1.4), covering waves such as X-rays, gamma rays and
ultraviolet radiation which all have more energy than visible light and also waves of
longer wavelength, such as infra-red (heat), radar and very low-frequency (VLF) waves
used to communicate with submerged submarines.

If these electromagnetic waves are sent in the form of short pulses which strike an
object with a flat surface, some of the wave energy transmitted from the radar will be
reflected back to the radar receiver, similar to the optical dazzle observed from solar
‘glint’ off a sunlit window on a sunny day (Figure 1.5).

If the elapsed time t, from the transmission of a short radar pulse to the time the echo
is received, is measured, the wave speed allows the contact range to be calculated
accurately. As electromagnetic waves all travel at the same speed of light in vacuum,
and only a little less in our planet’s dilute atmosphere (c = 3 × 108 m s−1), the distance
they travel may be given as follows: distance = ct. Hence contact range R, which is half
the total distance, is given as follows: R = __

For example, if the elapsed recorded electronic time from pulse transmission to
reception is one thousandth of a second (or 1 ms), the radar range from the transmitter
to the reflecting target will be as follows:
(3 × 108 × 1 × 10−3)
2 m or 150 km distance

This relationship is used frequently in pulse radars to measure contact range, and the method
is often referred to as ‘pulse delay ranging’. Other important radar parameters include
the transmitted radar frequency (denoting the energy of the wave), the pulse repetition
frequency or PRF (the number of pulses transmitted per second) and the pulse duration.
Radar • 5

Frequency (Hz) Wavelength

Gamma-rays 0.1 Å

0.1 nm
1 nm
17 400 nm

10 nm
Ultraviolet 500 nm
100 nm
Visible 1000 nm
Near IR
1 μm 600 nm

Infra-red 10 μm
700 nm
Thermal IR 100 μm
Far IR 1000 μm
1000 MHz 11 1 mm
UHF Microwaves 1 cm
500 MHz 1010
10 cm

VHF 1m
7-13 108 Radio, TV
100 MHz FM 10 m
VHF 107
50 MHz 100 m
106 AM
1000 m

Ÿ Figure 1.4 Electromagnetic spectrum

Transmitted pulse

Reflected echo

Ÿ Figure 1.5 Pulse delay ranging © CR Lavers

6 • Stealth Warship

Early Radar Stealth

Modern warship radar stealth materials have much to thank concepts developed for earlier
stealth aircraft. In Nazi Germany during the 1930s–1940s, two visionary aircraft designer
brothers Walter and Reimar Horten developed a large number of aircraft, including ahead-
of-its-time proposals for a strategic bomber, envisaged as carrying a German-developed
atomic bomb into the very heartland of America. The Horten H. IX designated the Horten
229 (Figure 1.6), fortunately developed very late towards the end of the Second World War,
was built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik and structured around the use of radar absorbent
glues and very low radar reflecting materials. It incorporated an extremely unusual low
cross section flying wing concept, making this the first ‘flying wing’ powered by a jet engine.

The ‘flat’ profile of the aircraft made it more difficult to see against a cloud-filled sky than
a conventional aircraft, and the more streamlined approach reduces aerodynamic drag
to some extent, improving endurance or the range of the aircraft. The Horton project
was given the personal approval of German Luftwaffe Reich Marshal Hermann Göring,
with the intended performance requirements to carry 1,000 kg of bombs a distance
of 1,000 km with a speed of 1,000 km hr−1, exhibiting the typical high-performance
standards expected from German engineering of its time. The aviation ceiling was
intended to be 15,000 m (49,213 ft). Ironically the flying wing concept, the actual
aircraft and some of the engineers fell as the spoils of war to the victorious allies and
was subsequently developed by Northrop in the United States of America on its YB-49
after the Second World War and the low observable ‘flying wing’ was born.

The idea of radar stealth was not alien to the British scientific establishment, who at the
same time had also begun to experiment with early forms of radar absorbent material or
RAM on its warships and also on the Canberra PR3 photographic reconnaissance aircraft of
the early 1950s. The Canberra was developed from the B(2) light bomber as a replacement
for the Mosquito PR34 reconnaissance aircraft, which had been used extensively during
the Second World War. The RAM-coated Canberra aircraft were a much needed post-war
response to the U-boat radar absorbing snorkel tubes developed by the German Navy. The
next significant step forward in developing radar stealth technology is generally accepted
to have taken place in 1954 when Kelly Martin at Lockheed was tasked by the US Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) to develop a covert spy plane (the genesis of the real ‘Project
Rainbow’ which I will mention later), leading to the first U2 Soviet overflight in 1956.

The U2 had a network of thin wires with spaced ferrite beads (somewhat akin
to an abacus) which absorbed energy and included specially fabricated ceramic
Radar • 7

Ÿ Figure 1.6 Horten H. IX designs

Ÿ Figure 1.7 Shuttle heat tiles © CR Lavers

8 • Stealth Warship

wing leading edges, made of fibreglass and honeycomb plastic, skimmed or finished
with heat-resistant fibreglass. Such developments in ceramic heat-resistant tiles have
continued over the decades and led eventually to the technology being deployed
on the series of US space shuttles (Figure 1.7), and which when damaged led to the
devastation observed on the shuttle Columbia (1st February 2003). The U2 aircraft was
a first step along the path of focused stealth aviation.


The next step was the United States Air Force (USAF) order for a reconnaissance version
of the A-12 Oxcart, originally designed for the CIA by Clarence Johnson at the Lockheed
Skunk Works in December 1962, in the wake of a U2 lost over Russia and the infamous
show trial of Gary Powers in Moscow. Originally named R-12, it was later renamed SR-71
(Figure 1.8). The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was rightly
concerned by the advances in Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Certainly
by the early to mid-1970s the Cold War was in real danger of going hot, with Soviet

Ÿ Figure 1.8 SR-71

Radar • 9

nuclear testing and arms proliferation apace. There was a genuine climate of fear of
the perceived Soviet missile build-up. The SR-71 was longer and heavier than the A-12.
Its fuselage was lengthened for additional fuel capacity and for increased range. A
second seat was added to the cockpit and further reconnaissance equipment included
intelligence sensors, a side-looking radar and a photo camera. The SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ first
flew on 22nd December 1984 and was finally ‘retired’ from USAF service in 1998. The
mission intent of the SR-71 was to provide the same sort of reconnaissance capability
provided by the U2 programme, but it had the unique advantage with its Mach 3+
speed that if an enemy surface-to-air missile was launched and subsequently detected
the aircraft could simply accelerate to outrun the missile! Thirty-two SR-71s were built,
with none of them lost to enemy action, although 12 aircraft (a rather high number)
were destroyed in a variety of accidents. Since 1976, the SR-71 has maintained its
official record as the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft in the world.

Lockheed’s F-117A ‘Nighthawk’ (Figure 1.9) was the first operational aircraft to fully
exploit stealth and was intended primarily to penetrate heavily protected environments
at night with precision and accuracy. Named after the Nighthawk, a nocturnal bird,
the likely time for deployment is intimated from the start. Competition for this first
fully stealthy defence contract was extremely fierce, with bids submitted from both
Lockheed and Northrop. Lockheed’s winning ‘Have Blue’ design was based on several
sophisticated models of rotating plates in two dimensions. In 1975, Kelly retired and

Ÿ Figure 1.9 F-117A

10 • Stealth Warship

Ben Rich succeeded him to lead the think tank of brilliant aeronautical engineers
designing the undesignable. Rich lobbied to get Lockheed into contention for the
stealth design, having been surprisingly overlooked in spite of their successes with
the U2 and SR-71. In 1975, Lockheed’s Advanced Design and Skunk Works prepared
a proposal for the Experimental Survivable Testbed (XST) programme. This Lockheed
XST programme was named ‘Project Harvey’ after the 1950 movie Harvey, staring James
Stewart, about an invisible 6 ft rabbit that could only be seen by Stewart. Dick Scherrer
was the Project Harvey programme manager and Leo Celniker the manager for the XST
proposal, which led to the ‘Hopeless Diamond’ model.

Skunk Works engineers began working on an aircraft which would have a vastly
reduced radar cross section (RCS) compared with existing jet engine aircraft that would
make it all but invisible to enemy search radars but would still be able to fly and carry
out combat missions in various Cold War, long-range strategic nuclear scenarios.

It had generally been accepted since the inception of the jet engine, with its metal
intakes and metal supporting frame, that aircraft would always be easy to detect with
radar because of strong reflections from flat metal surfaces. The objective of the Skunk
Works team was to take this rule and to turn it on its head. Alan Brown, a brilliant English
engineer, was given the task to lead the group trying to reduce the RCS created from the

Ÿ Figure 1.10 Comparison of the two best known stealth platforms, the B2 and the F-117A, can
be very illuminating
Radar • 11

intakes. He found that a fibreglass grid absorber reduced the RCS significantly. He named
this grid, tongue-in-cheek, the ‘Roach Motel’, after a US-bug-killing advert of the period
with the classic line ‘The Roach motel – roaches check in but they don’t check out!’.

The key technique the Skunk Works team developed to counter this ‘immutable fact’
became known as ‘faceting’, in which ordinary airframe smooth surfaces were broken
up into multiple triangular flat surfaces. These many surfaces were then arranged so
that the majority of the radar energy incident on the aircraft would be scattered away
from the aircraft at unexpected angles, leaving little energy, if any, to be reflected
directly back into the enemy radar receiver. All lines and surfaces were designed with
shallow inclination to the radar using huge mainframe computers with a memory found
in most hand-held calculators today. There were so many surfaces that it took months
to model the flat diamond shape which had no aerodynamics. The challenge was to cut
bits out from the flat diamond to create a delta wing aircraft, which provides the United
States with a global outreach and a lead in technology over the Soviet. At this time, the
majority of radar systems developed relied on a radar whose antennae would not only
transmit the outgoing pulse but would also be responsible for gathering the weakened
reflected wave. Subsequent development of bistatic radar (where a radar transmitter
and radar receiver are in two separate locations) and multistatic radar (where there are
multiple separately located radar receivers) have provided further refinements of these
earlier solutions.

An additional reduction in stealth fighter RCS (Figure 1.10) was obtained by

covering the whole aircraft surface with RAM. However, the downside of faceting on
aerodynamic surfaces was that it tended to produce an aircraft which was inherently
unstable about all three of its major axes – roll, pitch and yaw!

The programme had the highest level of security; even the buildings where the research
team worked had no windows, and only a minimum number of government people
knew of the programme. Only a few of the Lockheed staff even knew the programme
existed. The intent was to build two aircraft, one to test its flying qualities (which
appeared for some to be very questionable) and another to test its stealth attributes.

Measuring Stealth

James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), a Scottish physicist who conducted revolutionary

work on electricity and magnetism, had in the previous century derived various
equations that predicted in a clear way how a regular body of a given shape would
12 • Stealth Warship

reflect or scatter electromagnetic waves. With the help of a 1966 paper Method of
Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction published by a Russian physicist Pyotr
Ufimtsev at the Moscow Institute of Theoretical Physics (and now at the time of writing,
running a small one-man company Electromagnetics Research in Los Angeles), a paper
which was largely ignored in the then Soviet Union, two Skunk Works engineers Bill
Schroeder and Denys Overholser figured out the key maths behind stealth control
surface design. Schroeder sketched an aircraft with no curved surfaces at all, except
those of relatively small radius, with straight edges to its wings and tail surfaces. It was
as if a diamond had been cut into the crude outline shape of an aircraft, albeit a fairly
unaerodynamic looking one. Schroeder took the problem to Denys Overholser, an able
software engineer who could think outside of the frame of what already existed. Using
the number-crunching capability of an at that time state-of-the-art Cray computer,
Overholser developed a computer program that modelled scattering from Schroeder’s
new and peculiar faceted shapes, and predicted their theoretical RCS. However, it would
not be satisfactory to stop with just the output of unvalidated computer models, but in
true engineering fashion it required testing to prove the validity of these models. From
the computer program, engineers created a 10 ft wooden model dubbed the ‘Hopeless
Diamond’, which was taken to a secret outdoor radar test range in the Mojave Desert
near Palmdale. The model was mounted on a 12 ft pole, and the radar dish placed
1,500 ft away. Apparently, if the anecdotal test reports are to be believed, the site radar
operator could not see the model on the radar until a black bird landed right on top of
the model. The radar detected the bird but not the aircraft scale model!

Some introduction needs to be made to the often quoted size of a target on a radar
system. Unlike the familiar size of an object that we can see in the visible part of the
electromagnetic spectrum and physically measure with a metre ruler, things are not
quite so obvious in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. The size of a target’s
image on radar is measured by its RCS, often represented by the symbol σ and is
expressed in square metres. However, this ‘area’ does not equal its geometric area. A
perfectly conducting sphere of projected cross-sectional area 1 m2, that is, diameter of
1.13 m, when measured on a test rig will be found to have an RCS of 1 m2 (or as close
as likely to occur within experimental error!). A test aircraft returning twice as much
energy as the test sphere would be said to have an RCS of 2 m2. Similarly a square flat
plate of area 1 m2 will have an RCS of σ = 4πA2/λ2 = 13,982 m2, where A is area and λ is
the wavelength at 10 GHz if the radar is set to transmit pulses perpendicular to the
flat face [2]. At offnormal incident angles, energy is reflected away from the receiver,
thereby reducing the RCS. So a small plate can generate a massive echo signal or RCS
on the ‘enemy’ radar display.

Consequently, by appropriate choices of material, shape and size, a typical fighter

aircraft having an actual area of 10 m2 when directly facing the radar system could
Radar • 13

return much less energy than the echo energy returned by a test sphere returning an
RCS of even a few square centimetres, thus bearing no relationship to the actual area
of the plane in real life. The inherently unaerodynamic ‘brick’ shape of the Hopeless
Diamond was superseded by the ‘continuous curvature’ approach of the B2, a larger
aircraft yet with a smaller cross section and with a shape lending itself to a more
aerodynamic platform.

Maximum Detection Range (MDR)

and Radar Cross Section

An individual search radar set’s MDR depends upon several factors such as transmitted
power, the target’s reflecting properties, the antenna or aerial size and the receiver’s
sensitivity. The MDR is given by simplifying the standard radar range equation, to find
the maximum range a radar will detect a chosen target of a given size [3].

MDR = _______
(4σ)2S min

Here, P is the average transmitted power, G is the antenna gain, σ is the RCS of the
chosen target (a measure of the contact size seen by the radar beam), tot is the time
the contact is illuminated by the radar beam, Aeff is the effective size of the receive
antenna and Smin is the minimum signal energy required for detection by the receiver.
Any change in these parameters will change the MDR. Generally speaking, wave loss
increases with increasing frequency and so MDR will fall. Clearly, the ship’s search radar
has control of all but the elusive RCS of the chosen target. However, from the radar
operator’s perspective trying to counter stealth, a suitable combination of these five
factors can counterbalance a moderate reduction in the airplane’s overall RCS. It is quite
possible for a fire-control radar, with a highly directional beam (or high gain antenna)
and a moderately high power level to track stealth aircraft and even potentially engage
them successfully as evidenced by the F-117A taken down over Bosnia (believed to
be due to a modified surface-to-air battery SA3 or SA6 and initial intelligence of the
planned flight path, which was thought to be similar to a previous flight). It was also
believed subsequently that with the Soviet help and clever algorithms the Serbs had
used the radar to detect the ‘lack of aircraft reflectivity’ against its background. The
aircraft was destroyed on 27 March 1999 during the NATO bombing of Serbia after
the aircraft was shot down in combat 25 miles west of Belgrade, with pieces shown
on Serbian TV. There have been at least six notable incidents of stealth aircraft losses,
including a very public black jet loss at the Baltimore air show in September 1997 with
14 • Stealth Warship

an aircraft disintegrating in mid-air and crashing to earth in an urban area. Miraculously

no one was killed. However, the most potent threat since the Vietnam War to any aircraft
lies in the realm of infra-red heat-seeking systems which we will briefly consider later.
Interestingly, it was believed that Serbian forces had received considerable help from
Russian intelligence officers regarding the downing of the F-117A and were quick to
swarm over the remains of the aircraft looking for surviving salvageable parts, including
bits of first-generation US stealth materials. Russian interest lay in the subsequent
analysis of the frequency-dependent response of such stealth materials in order to find
frequencies or, one might say, weaknesses, in response for which the F-117A would be
more vulnerable to detection.

In addition, the radar range equation shows that

MDR  √σ

So a 16-fold reduction in RCS will only result in a meagre halving of the platform’s
overall MDR. It is thus obvious why there is so much emphasis to significantly reduce
the RCS (to produce even a moderate reduction in MDR), and the RCS of a modern
stealth fighter (or bomber) really needs to be equivalent to a very small bird for it to
operate in the way that it does currently. The relationship between MDR and RCS can
also be exploited to help make decoys operate more effectively. The concept of a decoy
here is the same as that for luring or enticing a person or animal away from an intended
course, typically into a trap. The decoy is designed to provide a more attractive target
to the targeting enemy missile. In the case of radar, several passive radar decoys exist
on common naval warfare usage, some even having the ability to ‘break the lock’ of an
already successfully locked on radar-guided missile.

One such radar decoy, chaff or Window, was originally developed by the British during
the Second World War and is a radar countermeasure which when launched from a
small rocket will spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminised nylon or metallised
glass fibre which will appear as distracting or confusing alternative targets on the radar
operator’s display screen. The use of Window proved extremely important during the
Normandy D-Day landings where chaff was used to confuse the defending Germans of
the intent of the embarked maritime allied forces. An alternative radar decoy involves
the use of permanently floating deployed ‘corner reflectors’, just larger versions of those
used by merchant shipping and private yachts to show up better on radar due to their
strong direct reflected signal; however, a permanent fixture that reflects well, even if it
is towed along behind a ship, is not necessarily a particularly good idea as it will give
the ‘enemy’ an approximate location of a possible target which it might otherwise not
have. A more practical arrangement involves the timely launch and deployment of an
inflatable corner reflector, which will provide a large alternative RCS only as and when
Radar • 15

required in the close vicinity of the ship. Many navies of the world now possess the
ability to launch chaff rounds routinely.

In any case, the ship would be well advised to turn to face a threat rather than sitting
‘broadside’ as this will enable the ship to not only be in a better place to ready its own
weapons and layered defence but will also be operationally reducing its RCS at the same
time. For example, a stealth frigate with a cross section of perhaps 2,500 m2 broadside
on could have a bows cross section when facing the threat of as little as 400 m2. Such a
manoeuvre will aid the effectiveness of any deployed chaff as this is then hopefully the
source of the largest reflected radar signal. These sort of changes in cross section are
often best expressed in engineering notation in terms of decibels:
dB = 10 log__

where S2 is the final or second signal level and S1 the original signal level we are
comparing it with. In this case, dB = 10 × log(400/2,500) = –7.96. The minus sign in
–7.96 dB shows there has been an overall signal loss or negative gain. The received radar
echo power is nearly 8 dB down compared to the broadside return. This is expected as
only a small fraction of the transmitted electromagnetic energy will be reflected back
from the smaller tilted bows of a ship and its forward-facing superstructure rather than
the large flat sides of the ship.

In 1977, Lockheed received a contract from the Defence Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) for the construction of two 60% scale test aircraft under the project
title ‘Have Blue’. Shortly after, the Have Blue contract was transferred over to US Air
Force System Command control and became ‘black’, with all information about it being
highly classified and restricted to those only with a legitimate need to know. Outside of
a few people at Lockheed and the Defense Department, no one in fact knew that Have
Blue even existed!

The two Have Blue aircraft were built at Lockheed in a few months. With so much
hinging upon the development of new and as yet unproven stealth technologies, the
intention was to design the rest of airframe as conservatively as possible, which also
helped to reduce the development time and avoid unnecessary suspicions of what was
really going on. The first was intended to evaluate its flying characteristics, whereas
the second was to evaluate the platform’s all critical radar signature. Existing off-the-
shelf components were used where feasible. The engines used were a pair of standard
General Electric J85s, mounted in the enclosures above the wings. The main landing
gear was also taken from a Fairchild Republic A-10, and various fly-by-wire (FBW)
components were ‘borrowed’ from an F-16 whilst the instrumentation and ejection
seat were taken from a Northrop F-5. Have Blue aircraft had the same general shape
16 • Stealth Warship

as that which would later become familiar with the F-117A, except that the rudders
were located forward of the exhaust ejectors and angled in rather than out. The leading
edge of the semi-delta wing was swept back at a daring 72.5°. The wing featured two
inboard trailing edge elevons for both pitch and roll control. There were no flaps or
speed brakes but fortuitously an ejection seat was provided!

The Have Blue aircraft were equipped with the latest FBW flight controls that had been
adapted from the existing F-16 system airframe. However, the system did have to be
modified to handle an aircraft that was unstable about all its three axes (the F-16 is
unstable only about the pitch axis). The problem of designing a stealthy system for
airspeed measurement had yet to be solved, but an inertial navigation system provided
enough speed data for test purposes when aircraft probes were retracted. The flight
attributes of the plane were heavily controlled by advanced computer software
such that the plane can be thought of as almost flying by itself, with the pilot largely
managing the systems and checking critical factors such as fuel, time, speed and so
on. Once committed to its initial attack axis, the plane was locked in to complete its
bombing run.

Two prototypes were built at a modest cost of US$37 million. Lockheed workers
assembled the Have Blue aircraft in a cordoned-off area in Burbank, California, beyond
the prying eyes of the general public and indeed most Federal employees. Neither
aircraft received an official Department of Defence (DoD) designation, nor did they get
a USAF serial number. However, Lockheed gave each aircraft its own serial numbers,
1001 and 1002. The first example (1001) was finished in November of 1977. In order to
keep the project away from spying eyes, the Have Blue prototype was then shipped
out to the Groom Lake Test Facility in Nevada (so-called Area 51) in high secrecy for
test flights in a remote area of the Nellis test range complex, a good location for testing
secret aircraft. A camouflage paint scheme was applied to make it hard for unwanted
observers at Groom Lake to determine the aircraft’s shape. The first flight of the Have
Blue took place in January or February of 1978 (the exact date is still classified), with
Lockheed test pilot William M. ‘Bill’ Park sitting at the controls. Flight test of the Have
Blue initially went smoothly, and the FBW system functioned well. Landing speed was
relatively high (160 knots) and as expected because of the lack of flaps or brakes in the
platform’s construction. However, on 4 May 1978, Have Blue prototype number 1001
was landing after a routine test flight when it hit the ground a little too hard, jamming
the right main landing gear in a semi-retracted position. Pilot Bill Park pulled the
aircraft back into the air and tried to shake the gear back down. However, after his third
attempt failed, he was ordered to take the aircraft up to 10,000 ft and eject. Park ejected
successfully, but in the process he is reported to have hit his head and was knocked
unconscious. Since he was then unable to control his parachute during descent, his
Radar • 17

back was severely injured on impact, but he did survive. However, his injuries prevented
him from continuing his test pilot career, and he was unfortunately forced to retire from
flying. The Have Blue aircraft, incidentally, was destroyed in the crash.

Have Blue 1002 arrived at Groom Lake shortly after the loss of 1001. It took to the air for
the first time in June 1978, with Lt Col. Ken Dyson at the controls. From the mid-1978 to
early 1980, Lt Col. Dyson flew more than 65 different test sorties, testing the response
of the aircraft to various radar threats. The Have Blue prototype 1002 proved to be
undetectable by all airborne radars except the Boeing E-3 AWACS, which could acquire
the aircraft at only short range. Most ground-based missile tracking radars could detect
the Have Blue only after it was well inside the minimum range for the surface-to-air
missiles with which they were associated could engage. Neither ground-based radars
nor air-to-air missile guidance radars could lock onto the aircraft, and it was found
through experience that the best tactic to avoid radar detection was to approach the
ground radar threat head on, presenting the Have Blue’s small nose-on signature.

Application of RAM to the airframe proved to be rather difficult, and ground crews
had to seal all the aircraft’s joints thoroughly before each and every flight. Early
F-117A RAM came in linoleum-like sheets, cut to shape and bonded to the skin to
cover large areas. Doors and access panels were carefully checked and adjusted for a
tight fit between flights, and all gaps were filled in with conductive tape and covered
with more RAM. Paint-type RAM was available, often called radar absorbent paint
(RAP), but it had to be applied by hand. The paints used were and are generally toxic
to human (and indeed animal species). Even the gaps around the aircraft canopy and
the fuel-filler door were filled with RAM paint before each flight. Ground crews would
check that all surface screws were sufficiently tightened, as even one loose screw in
an access panel could potentially make the aircraft show up during radar signature
tests. Consequently, meticulous attention to detail was the ‘signature’ of the aircraft’s
success, from the honeycomb RAM on the wing edges, inlets, exhaust, nozzles, holes to
door seals, which increased the demands on the supportive ground crew staff beyond
that normally required for normal ‘non-stealthy’ military aircraft. The aircraft had six
skin layers, absorbent adhesives, tapes and putty, and sub-elements of ferromagnetic
coatings in a high dielectric plastic. Although this method is used in naval design, the
B2 and the F-35 (Lightning) Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) use enhanced software prediction
methods to create radically different aircraft shapes than the much earlier, and simpler
by comparison, F-117A. Have Blue 1002 was finally lost in July 1979 during its 52nd
flight with Lt Col. Dyson still at the controls when one of its J85 engines caught fire.
The fire became so intense that the hydraulic fluid lines burned through, and Lt Col.
Dyson was also forced to eject, with the loss of the 1002 prototype as well. The result
was that within 8 months both aircraft were gone! Nonetheless, the value of stealth had
18 • Stealth Warship

been proven. As a further note, it should not be a great surprise to the more thoughtful
reader that the reporting of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in this vicinity has been
a common occurrence since this time of early stealth fighter testing. Fortunately for
the Lockheed team they had already gathered about 90% of their evaluation data to
‘green light’ the project. The loss of aircraft at an early stage, with the civilian arm of
Lockheed going through a lean period, would almost certainly have meant a deletion
of the programme, and a loss of the world’s first true stealth fighter.

The Air Force awarded a contract to the Lockheed ‘Skunk’ Works to develop the
‘Senior Trend’ aircraft, with the secret top brass finding US$340 million of covert funds
to allocate to it. Initial F-117s were delivered in June 1981, with only the facetted
intersecting plates of its radar reducing airframe hinting to the informed observer at
its potent stealth features. This project was shrouded in secrecy, probably rivalled only
by that of the Manhattan Project team that developed the atomic bomb and led by
Robert Oppenheimer. From 1982, the 4450th Tactical Group operated the F-117 from
its Tonopah Test Range. This covert facility enabled the development and production
of F-117 to continue far from watchful eyes. Under the cover of testing new weapon
systems on attack planes, which were indeed flown up and back from Tonopah, the
flight crews flew the aircraft under the cover of night, which during the daytime
were kept hangered to avoid detection by satellite imagery and other advanced
Soviet technologies. Even the hangers cost £200 million to ensure the highest level
of security. In October 1989, the 4450th became the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, which
continued to operate F-117s through its first combats. In December 1989, two of the
‘black jets’ participated in ‘Operation Just Cause in Panama’. During this US invasion,
Panamanian general Manuel Noriega was deposed, with Guillermo Endara sworn into
office as president-elect. The aircrafts were originally meant to target barracks loyal to
Noriega, but at the last minute the target was switched (fortunately for the Panamanian
troops) to drop two 2,000 lb bombs on the fields next to the barracks to demonstrate
United States’ air superiority. Due to the media portrayal of ‘dropping bombs on fields’
that followed, US Congress was initially critical of the cost involved: US$8 billion for 59
planes and spares.

Following the Desert Storm campaign – where the F-117A Night Hawk stealth fighters,
just 2% of the attack force, dropped 40% of the bombs – F-117s were fully integrated into
the Air Force arsenal. By mid-1992, the F-117 Wing transferred operations to Holloman
Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico and re-designated the 49th Fighter Wing.

The F-117 Nighthawk’s first flight took place in 18 June 1981 and conducted USAF service
from 15th October 1983 to its recent retirement in April 2008. Fifty-nine F-117A aircraft
were built at a cost of US$111.2 million per aircraft! The USAF retired the F-117 primarily
because of its introduction of the F-22 Raptor and also of the impending introduction
Radar • 19

of the F-35 Lightning II, both aircraft offering increased capability and improvements in
stealth technology. A final interesting story of the F-117A lies in the F designation itself.
Early on, after the F-16 cockpit had been chosen for the small stealth bomber, it was
realised that no fighter pilot worth his salt would switch to a ‘B’ designation (bomber)
from an ‘F’ designation (fighter). Hence the need to label the plane with an ‘F’ designation,
although it has no ‘fighting ability’ or ‘defences’ of it own other than its stealth!

Stealth Approaches

In simple form, radar stealth consists of three basic techniques that should be used to
complement each other:

1. Materials should be incorporated into the ship’s superstructure and outside

surfaces that have a very low radar reflection coefficient, such as plastics, carbon
composites or glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). Surprisingly perhaps Nelson’s flagship
HMS Victory, in spite of its extensive mast rigging (Figure 1.11), would have a
relatively low RCS by modern ship standards!

2. RAMs – usually foams which can be overlaid with specialist paints – are also generally
included where possible. Simple RAM cancels any threat or ‘enemy’ reflected waves
destructively with the application of quarter wavelength coatings. Multiple RAM
layers, a little like the structured layering seen within plywood, can also be applied
to provide destructive cancellation across a broader range of wavelengths. Surface
paint may also add carbonyl iron ferrite spheres so that incoming radar waves
induce alternating magnetic fields in the surface paint, converting radar energy
into heat. This type of paint is often referred to as ‘iron ball’ paint. Conductive
transparent coatings also allow the designer to have the flexibility to introduce
controlled shapes that can deflect radar waves so that they do not even enter a
ship’s bridge windows and then reflect off in a different direction away from the
roving eyes of the enemy radar. Gold and transparent indium tin oxide (ITO) are
also frequently used.

RAM is usually composed of a combination of dielectric and ferromagnetic materials.

Dielectrics can be thought of as slowing waves down, whilst ferromagnetic materials
will absorb them. A high-frequency, anti-reflection coating on a low-frequency,
wideband structure will absorb most of the energy, analogous in some ways to a
peacock’s feather where constructive interference coatings rest on a black broadband
absorber giving the peacock its familiar appearance (Figure 1.12). However, whilst the
20 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 1.11 HMS Victory © CR Lavers

Ÿ Figure 1.12 Peacock feather © CR Lavers

Radar • 21

peacock’s black feathers absorb the low-frequency wideband structure, the RAM top
coating will interference destructively cancelling reflected radar waves. The composite
RAM consequently has both narrow and wideband absorbing features (Figure 1.13).

Typical narrowband response is seen in red, whilst a broadband response is observed in

blue. Although the narrowband RAM has a very precise absorption, and also the largest
reduction in reflected signal, this is only really useful if it exactly matches a known radar
threat, which in reality is rarely likely to take place. A small sacrifice in the reflected
signal reduction means that broadband RAM can operate across a wider range of
frequency and is thus more likely to cover the range of likely radar threats.

To determine the ‘ideal’ thickness of the narrowband RAM, we must first find where the
optimum reduction occurs in terms of frequency. For the narrowband RAM illustrated
above, optimum reduction occurs at a frequency of about 7.5 GHz, so if the frequency
is equal to 7.5 GHz and the wavelength = c/f = 0.04 m or 4 mm, the RAM thickness
ideally should be ¼ of this wavelength, equal to 10 mm or 1 cm. However, using RAM
does not work for all frequencies as RAM size will become too large and consequently
too heavy as we go to lower frequencies as the wavelength increases. There is some
offset as cancellation is for the internal lossy screen of ¼ wavelength thickness and not
the free space wavelength, but nonetheless size limits the RAM that can be applied,
especially to aircraft (fixed wing, rotary and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)) or missile

This use of RAM or the so-called Salisbury screen is perhaps the first anti-radar, anti-
reflective concept, described in 1952 by Salisbury and was applied to subsequent ship RCS
reduction. There have been many refinements over the years, but the principles remain
essentially the same today as that first used in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) Radar Laboratory in the Second World War, and the technique was named after

Reduction in reflected signal/dB



4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 /GHz

Ÿ Figure 1.13 Composite RAM © CR Lavers

22 • Stealth Warship

him. This provides a simple way to use the resistive Ohmic loss mechanism in layered
absorbers. The Salisbury screen consists of a sheet of resistive material, λ/4 thick, placed
over a ‘ground plane’ (the metal bulkhead surface of the naval warship to be concealed);
the quarter wavelength dielectric that will be absorbed; and a thin lossy screen. Magnetic
loss mechanisms are intrinsically narrowband. To obtain more bandwidth, you need to use
multiple layers of absorber separated by dielectric spacers, somewhat akin to a multilayer
plywood structure indicated earlier, or modern multiple layer anti-reflection coating. The
isotropic dielectric constant of the spacers controls the maximum bandwidth of the design
where the lower permittivity results in an increase in the working bandwidth. Foam and
honeycomb spacers give a physically thick sandwich structure. To achieve a composite
skin, you can use fibreglass and absorbing layers and even injection mould the whole thing
as a complete carbon-fibre composite as the structure will be heavily carbon impregnated
anyway. In principle, from previous experimental research, the dielectric constant is actually
a three-dimensional dielectric tensor configuration, which means that there is the ability
to tailor-make different absorbing properties in the three principal axial directions [4, 5].

The principle is this:

The incident wave (made up of parallel beams) is split into two (equal in intensity)
waves of the same wavelength (Figure 1.14).

The first wave is reflected by the exterior surface (the thin lossy screen), while the
second beam travels through the dielectric and is reflected by the ground plane (which
is the inner layer of the Salisbury screen).

Lossy screen

Incident radar wave

Reflected radar wave

Ground plane


Ÿ Figure 1.14 Salisbury screen © CR Lavers

Radar • 23

Ideally, if the magnitudes of both the reflected waves are the same and the phases of
the two waves are exactly out of phase, the two waves will interfere and cancel each
other’s electric fields.

From interference theory, two waves that are coherent interact, and they will combine
to form a single output wave. Furthermore, if the peaks coincide, the output intensity
will be the sum of the two intensities. However, if the two waves are completely out-
of-phase, both intensities cancel each other out (this happens when two waves are
offset by half a wavelength). The second wave travels twice the distance (the path
across to the ground plate and back towards the exterior thin lossy screen), for a total
path distance of half a wavelength. Thus the two waves cancel each other, and nothing
should be detected by the enemy radar receiver. Even if this is not quite achieved
in practice, the residual level of signal energy should be well below that required to
exceed the threshold of most search radar systems. High dielectric constant makes the
wave paths travelling inside the material generally independent of angle of incidence
so that one can get internal behaviour that is broadly the same as a function of exterior
angle. The internal thickness required does not necessarily become too unwieldy in the
first instance as actual thickness required is equal to λo/(4√εR), where λo is the free space
wavelength and √εR the dielectric constant (permittivity) of the material itself.

There are some disadvantages with this quarter wavelength approach. First, Salisbury
screens work well for only a narrow portion of the radar spectrum, making it vulnerable
to multiple radar protected areas and indeed modern spread spectrum radar
technology. Another possibility is the Dallenbach layer – a homogeneous lossy layer
backed by a metal plate and two key multilayer systems: the Jaumann absorber and
graded dielectric absorbers (materials with properties that vary across the layers like
modern graded-index multimode optical fibres). A second problem is the thickness
of the screen itself; radar wavelengths are typically of 1 mm to 10 cm thickness, so
at longer wavelengths, the thickness will indeed become unreasonably large. Because
of the likely horizontal and distant nature of most seaborne search radar threats,
and refraction effects (the significant lowering of the speed of wave propagation),
destructive interference is maintained over a wide angle range. There is considerable
interest in developing tuneable microwave composite materials incorporating
ferromagnetic microwires, which would have the potential advantage of being able to
tune to the threat during the relatively long search pulses which are radiated and then
maximise active cancellation [6].

3. Ship geometry is also a critical factor. So-called dihedrals and trihedrals (where
two or three surfaces, respectively, meet together at 90°) must be eliminated at
all costs. Both of these geometries will strongly reflect radar energy over a wide
angular range directly back to the search radar. Especially troublesome are the
24 • Stealth Warship

trihedral corner reflectors which are used to enhance radar returns from small
vessels (Figure 1.15). On older warships, without the foresight of stealth, the
simplest practical solution is to remove these corners by welding angled plates into
place, whilst new ships like the Type 45 and Visby stealth corvette are deliberately
designed with no compromising 90° angles present.

Problematically, ships also need to use radar, which themselves reflect waves. One
solution to this problem places radar behind movable panels. Lockheed adopted this
approach in its development of the Sea Shadow (Figure 1.16).

The Sea Shadow developed by Lockheed is a 563 t, 164 ft-long vessel with twin
submarine-like hulls, sloping sides and a flat roof, and was until recently the
demonstrator for the proposed Northrop’s Zumwalt DDX Destroyer. The Sea Shadow
was a ship test bed platform developed in the 1980s by the US Navy to test advanced
propulsion and radar signature reduction technologies. The Sea Shadow was kept
hidden within a floating barge during the daytime (Figure 1.17).

The secretive Sea Shadow came out initially only at night under the cover of darkness
(Figure 1.18). Nonetheless, although designed with a low RCS, the vessel carried corner
reflectors like the one indicated in Figure 1.15, which would be positioned on the upper
deck surface so as to avoid collision when crossing shipping lanes (Figure 1.19).

This prototype was used as a conceptual model for the stealth ship in the Bond film
Tomorrow Never Dies, having a characteristic less-cluttered upper deck to reduce radar

Radar beam

Trihedral surface

Ÿ Figure 1.15 Corner reflector © CR Lavers

Radar • 25

Ÿ Figure 1.16 Sea Shadow under way

Ÿ Figure 1.17 Sea Shadow in dock

26 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 1.18 Sea Shadow emerging

returns and a very low visual profile. This reduction in unnecessary upper deck machinery
and radar returning features is often collectively described as radar ‘microgeometry’,
and minimising this microgeometry is referred to as radar contouring, tumble home or
purpose shaping. It should be added here that the maritime environment, unlike the
dry desert skies above Nevada, is not the best environment for stealth materials. RAMs
can also absorb water, which affects its properties. A thin layer of water can also build
up on the RAM deployed at sea, and this layer can return an increased radar signal! So
development of hydrophobic ‘water hating’ coatings is also vital at sea.

In the Bond film, physical damage to the hull of the stealth ship vastly increased its RCS
to the point where it could be detected and then targeted – a practical point worth
bearing in mind at the design stage of future real stealth warships. Even if a modern
stealth warship is covered with the very best radar stealth technology available, its final
RCS is likely to remain high in comparison with a missile or aircraft platform. In theory, an
enemy radar system operating across a broad range of frequencies with sufficiently high
power output and conveniently placed receivers would be able to spot such a vessel.
In practice, however, radar power is generally limited and ships often have just one
receiving antenna and use a very narrow range of frequencies. As a result, by applying all
of these techniques, ships can be made extremely difficult to detect with radar, although
not totally invisible. However, it is relatively easy to make a small Visby stealth corvette
‘invisible’ to radar, much harder to make a Type 45 Destroyer undetectable and almost
Radar • 27

Ÿ Figure 1.19 Sea Shadow in San Francisco Bay

impossible to make a large aircraft carrier ‘disappear’ on radar. It is, of course, not always
stealth that is the most important feature; for example, it is difficult to envisage ‘power
projection’ with an aircraft carrier that no one knows is actually there!

One further point to discuss is that shaping does not necessarily offer stealth advantages
against low-frequency radar. If a radar wavelength is roughly twice the size of a target, a
half-wavelength resonance effect generates a significant constructive in-phase return.
However, a long wavelength radar may detect a target and roughly locate it but will not
be able to identify it, and without location information it will also lack sufficient weapon
targeting accuracy. The Chinese ‘Nantsin’ radar, for example, has the capability to detect
first-generation stealth platforms in the radar frequency range below 2 GHz but does
not possess the systems integration necessary to provide useful information to other
fire-control radar systems. The use of multiple receivers, and those physically separated
from the transmitter, a so-called multistatic radar option, offers considerable research
promise. Much of a platform’s stealth comes from reflecting off-board transmissions in
a variety of directions other than that of a direct return. Thus detection is best achieved
if radar receivers are spaced apart so that the time delays in detected deflected radar
energy are used to triangulate the location of a stealth target. A third possibility is the
observation of moving ‘holes’ in radar return, as say a B2 aircraft moves its way past
28 • Stealth Warship

the usual strong returns of a coastline or mountainous region, especially prominent if

the aircraft were to be detected from an airborne radar itself at high altitude.

One key advantage of stealth that cannot be argued against is the benefits of stealth
force package size as opposed to a conventional attack package. A conventional strike
package will usually include a number of defence suppression aircraft, several fighter
escorts and fuel tankers to support the activities of even one bomber versus a single
stealth bomber. Conceived at the height of the Cold War’s tensions to outwit the Soviet
enemy, this aircraft above all others put stealth, as it were, firmly on the ‘radar screen’ of
new technologies. For further reading, a number of recent popular articles on stealth
are included in the references, albeit with some personal bias [7, 8]!

Chapter Reflections

1. Consider a picture of a platform like the Type 42 destroyer and think about how
you might redesign the platform to reduce its RCS whilst retaining its overall
2. From a radar perspective, compare differences in B2 and F-117A design (see
Figure 1.10).
3. Consider the narrowband RAM frequency response illustrated in red in Figure 1.8.
Over what frequency range does RAM have a greater than 10 dB reduction in
cross section (two significant figures)?
4. What is the ideal thickness of RAM for an 8.5 GHz frequency India-band radar
threat (two significant figures)?
5. If the MDR of a conventional warship broadside (beam on) is 100 km, calculate
the new MDR if a warship is redesigned with a 40 dB RCS reduction. Hint:
Consider relative changes in the MDR formula (one significant figure).
6. If the MDR of a conventional warship broadside (beam on) is 100 km, calculate
the new MDR if a warship is redesigned with a 20% power reduction and a
10% gain reduction. Hint: Consider relative changes in the MDR formula (three
significant figures).
7. If a frigate was just detected beam on at a MDR of 45 km, what range would it
be detected bows on to the threat radar if the bows RCS is less by a factor of 30
compared to its RCS at 90°? Hint: Consider the MDR formula as an aspect angle
calculation (two significant figures).
Radar • 29


1. Beard, J (2000), ‘Battle of Britain, 1940’, EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.

2. Knott, E, Shaeffer, J and Tuley, M (1993), Radar Cross Section, 2nd ed. Norwood, MA: Artech
house, p. 231. ISBN 0-890006-618-3.
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar.
4. Lavers, CR (1991), ‘Optical mode characterisation of the configuration of a thin ferroelectric
liquid crystal cell under an applied electric field’, Journal of Modern Optics, 38(8): 1451–1461.
5. Lavers, CR (1990), ‘The optical dielectric tensor configuration in aligned ferroelectric liquid
crystal cells’, PhD Thesis, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.
6. Makhnovskiy, D, Zhukov, A, Zhukova, V and Gonzalez, J (2008), ‘Tunable and self-sensing
microwave composite materials incorporating ferromagnetic microwires’, Advances in
Science and Technology, 54: 201–210.
7. Lavers, CR (2008), ‘Stealthy materials’, Material World, December, pp. 33–35.
8. Lavers, CR (2008), ‘Invisibility rules the waves’, Physics World, March, pp. 21–25.
[F]or it is light that makes everything visible.
Ephesians 5:14 (New International Version)

Dazzle Camouflage and the First

World War

In the absence of radar, the first recorded use of naval stealth ‘appeared’ during the
First World War when Britain attempted to hide its naval ships by painting them grey
to blend them into their background, with limited success as many Allied vessels
were subsequently lost in the North Atlantic. Huge numbers of ships were sunk by
the German U-boats, which by April 1917 was running at an unprecedented rate (as
torpedo attacks on British ships sank nearly eight per day). Something had to be done.
In 1917, with the Navy desperate for a solution, naval reservist Lt Norman Wilkinson
devised a bizarre dazzle camouflage paint scheme, using colourful and abstract
cubist patterns to paint ships with coloured blocks and stripes so that vessels would
appear to be ‘blurred’ into a complex background of changing sea, sky and coastline.

Norman Wilkinson CBE (24 November 1878–31 May 1971) was primarily a British
marine painter, and was the first credited with the proposal to use disruptive patterns
in naval camouflage. Wilkinson was born in Cambridge, attending Berkhamsted
School and St Paul’s Cathedral Choir School, London. His early art training took place
near Portsmouth and Cornwall, and at Southsea School of Art, where he was later a
teacher – all closely connected with the sea. He then studied with seascape painter
Louis Grier and by the age of 21 was firmly interested in maritime subjects. During the
First World War, while serving in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, he was assigned
Visibility • 31

to various submarine patrols from the Dardanelles to Gibraltar, and at the beginning
of 1917, he found himself based in Devonport, Plymouth conducting minesweeping
operation. In a moment’s inspiration whilst in Plymouth, he devised a cunning way to
respond to the submarine threat by confusing the aim of the submariner.

After initial scepticism, Wilkinson’s plan was finally adopted by the Admiralty Board,
after tests with SS Industry (a merchant ship employed previously on regular runs
between Plymouth and Queenstown), and he was placed in charge of a secret naval
camouflage unit housed beneath the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

There, he and his team of associated artists created a variety of dazzle camouflage schemes,
which once applied to small-scale miniature models were then tested by experienced
naval observers and then subsequently prepared as blueprint construction diagrams
for actual painting of ships in dock. Anecdotal remarks by Alan Raven, an authority on
camouflage used by the United States during the Second World War, suggest that HMS
Alsatian was the first ship to be dazzle painted, some time in August 1917.

In 1918, Wilkinson was briefly assigned to Washington, DC where he supported the

US Navy establish a similar unit (headed amongst others by Everett Longley Warner
himself, an American Impressionist painter). During the Second World War, Wilkinson
was once again assigned to camouflage development and research, but this time not
in the dazzle painting of ships, which was no longer given the same priority, but in the
visual concealment of airfields.

Wilkinson realised that optical illusions can be created by a variety of methods, including
the use of both horizontal and vertical lines to accentuate or confuse features. Detection,
be it visual, thermal or radar, is largely about contrast. Can I see the object as distinct from
its background (Figure 2.1)? Clearly some situations make it much easier to see an object
than others (Figure 2.2). Clothing, airframe, ship or vehicle with the same colour as the
background forms the basis of concealment. The addition of multiple coloured patterns
which are also found in a complicated environmental background will be even less likely
to be detected and forms the basis of disruptive and dazzle camouflage. There have even
been some serious attempts to make aircraft invisible; the German air force developed
a transparent monoplane in 1913 and with light colours could only just be detected at a
height of 900 ft. Thus cloaked with visible stealth (although still detectable by ear), the
aircraft would fly over an enemy and drop its ordnance. The advent of radar surpassed
the concerns presented by visual detection to aviation on its own. The eye (a sensor) and
brain (signal processor) provide an extremely complex system worthy of a book in its own
right, and is actually a combination that at times can be surprisingly easy to fool; yet it
can achieve the resolution of two parallel lines 1 mm apart when viewed at a distance of
3 m, limited only by the 2.5 μmm separation of colour light sensitive cones in the retina.
32 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 2.1 Conventional black and white contrast © CR Lavers

Ÿ Figure 2.2 Khaki contrast against a khaki background © CR Lavers

In addition, the ‘fog of war’ or smoke has been used for generations to make it difficult
for a target to be seen, as the scattering and absorption decrease the overall contrast.
The use of modified smoke at sea, for thermal camouflage, has certainly been the
subject of sea trials in recent decades.

It is perhaps quite unsurprising that the F-117A Nighthawk is painted black and flown
at night to avoid strong contrast conditions that might otherwise arise. There are also
some additional factors which mitigate against stealth fighter flight operations taking
place during the day in spite of the aircraft being painted black. Basically the higher the
altitude, the more light is scattered from below onto its underside. So to prevent
this extra spot of glint from being visible against the dark background of near space,
the darker the sky behind the stealth fighter, the darker must be the under surface
Visibility • 33

shading. Consequently, we get the bizarre scenario that the black SR-71 and U2 aircraft
can look brighter than the background sky when cruising at 70,000 ft due to this
intense scattering. At lower altitudes, the sky is itself brighter and there is less light
scattering below the aircraft, so a lighter colour here would provide the least contrast.
However, there is greater fuel efficiency and hence endurance or range to be gained by
flying above most of the thick dragging atmosphere, and hence extreme altitude is a
preferred flight characteristic.

Furthermore, it is not the ‘glint’ that may reveal the aircraft in daylight, moonlight or
starlight, even if the distances of actual detection may be relatively small, but the
streaming white contrails, trailing out behind the aircraft and potentially lasting
from some tens of minutes to several hours, and when spread out or dispersed may
be several miles long and many hundreds of feet across. Fortunately at high altitude
the air is generally too dry to form contrails, whilst at low altitude the air is, however,
far too warm. The dangerous contrail zone is typically from 20,000 to 60,000 ft, so
stealth aircraft need to flight well outside of this range, usually on cruise above
70,000 ft [1]. One also needs to consider fully the effects of sunshine, skyshine and
earthshine effects across both the visible and thermal bands to optimise the specific
flight operations which will change with changing weather conditions and on almost
an hourly basis [2]. Hence the preference of pilots to fly under the cover of darkness.

Dazzle camouflage, known as Dazzle painting or ‘Razzle Dazzle’, was a camouflage paint
scheme used extensively during the First World War and to a lesser extent in the Second
World War. Figures 2.3 and 2.4, respectively, show HMS Argus and USS Charles S. Sperry.
HMS Argus (in Figure 2.3) displays dazzle camouflage typical in 1918.

HMS Argus was a British aircraft carrier that served in the British Royal Navy in
the period from 1918 to 1944. She was originally converted from an ocean-going
liner which was under construction at the outbreak of the First World War to
become the world’s first example of what is now considered to be the standard
design for an aircraft carrier. HMS Argus had a full-length flight deck that allowed
wheeled aircraft to both take off from the flight deck and then land again. After
commissioning, the ship was involved for several years in the development of the
optimum design for future Royal Naval aircraft carriers, various types of arresting
gear and the development of the general operational procedures needed to
operate multiple aircraft together, and how to conduct flight activities within
fleet operations. Argus was briefly deployed during the 1920s and then placed
into reserve. The ship was subsequently recommissioned and partly modernised
just before the Second World War and after many operations off the Western
Mediterranean, North Africa and Malta (as well as periods in Russian waters and
Iceland) was finally sold in late 1946 and scrapped in 1947. The pattern applied
34 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 2.3 HMS Argus

Ÿ Figure 2.4 USS Charles S. Sperry (DD-697) shown here in dazzle camouflage (June 1944)

here appears to be randomly orientated different sections of ‘zebra stripes’, where

the black-and-white stripes are intended to break up the overall outline of the
ship and stop the bridge observer with binoculars on a warship from identifying
another ship’s characteristic outline.
Visibility • 35

Somewhat later than the First World War HMS Argus, the USS Charles S. Sperry
(DD-697), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, was named after Charles Stillman Sperry,
the commanding officer of the Yorktown. The Charles S. Sperry was launched on 13 March
1944 and commissioned on 17 May 1944, reporting then to the Pacific Fleet. After a
brief training period in the Hawaiian Islands, Charles S. Sperry joined the fast carrier
force, TP 38, in December 1944. For the duration of the war, she sailed in the third group,
sometimes designated TF 38 or TF 58, and engaged in a variety of successful operations
during the Second World War, particularly near Okinawa and in the Philippines. Sperry
sailed with TF 58 again in February 1945, as the force began its work in preparation for
the costly invasion of Iwo Jima for which Sperry’s forces offered direct support during the
assault landings at Iwo Jima. Twice, on 19 February and on 20–21 February, the carrier
force came under sustained air attack from the enemy, but anti-aircraft fire from the USS
Charles S. Sperry and several other screening ships (combined with evasive manoeuvring
and a protective smoke screen) prevented substantial damage to the vast concentration
of American ships. Upon completion of the Second World War and successful operations
in both Okinawa and the Philippines, she was lastly actively involved during the Korean
War, sustaining only minor damage during return of fire, and after sale to the Chilean
government was finally scrapped by the Chilean Navy as recently as 1990.

Dazzle camouflage would seem an unlikely camouflage technique, as it would appear

to actually draw attention to the ship rather than hiding it, but the technique was
developed after the Royal Navy’s failure to develop other effective means to disguise
ships in all weather conditions. Various trials conducted with Wilkinson’s help
demonstrated that the dazzle camouflage technique actually worked in practice.
Dazzle did not conceal the ships as such but made it difficult for the enemy to estimate
their speed and heading. Wilkinson’s idea was to disrupt the visual rangefinders used
for naval artillery. Its intention was confusion rather than concealment. An observer
would find it difficult to know exactly whether the stern or the bow was in view, and
it would be difficult to estimate whether the observed vessel was moving towards or
away from the observer’s position. Crude rangefinders of this period were based on
an optical mechanism to calculate range. The operator would adjust the mechanism
until two half-images of the intended target lined up in a complete picture. Dazzle
made this hard to achieve because clashing patterns looked ‘abnormal’ when the two
halves were aligned. This became especially important when submarine periscopes
included rangefinders into their latest suite of sensors. The dazzle pattern usually
included a false bow wave to make correct estimation of a ship’s speed difficult.
The camouflage expert is also trying to fool the innocent observer in a number of
other ways, besides the heading error just mentioned, such as by introducing ‘redder’
colours that produce a measure of ‘invisibility’ at sunrise or sunset, crucial periods
when a ship is most likely to be observed because of the rapidly changing ambient
light conditions, and where possible the use of land background patterns for littoral
36 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 2.5 RMS Olympic

vessel operations (such as the Swedish Visby stealth corvette) helps the probability of
successful concealment.

There are, of course, several serious problems encountered with the use of ‘fixed’ dazzle
camouflage patterns, not least of which is the fundamental problem that as a naval
vessel makes passage from one ocean to another it will encounter definite changes
in general illumination and weather patterns. For example, the lighting and weather
conditions in the North Atlantic winter are quite different from those of the relatively
settled Mediterranean and Gulf; a ship making passage from one such region to the
other in the course of its maritime operations will not necessarily be able to go in for
a refit and be repainted in the camouflage design best suited to that area. It should
be noted that it was not only navies who used dazzle camouflage during the First
and Second World Wars but also merchant shipping and commercial passenger liners
converted into troop ships, neither of whom wished to be sunk by the unerring accuracy
of the German torpedoes. Hence ships like RMS Mauretania and the RMS Olympic of the
White Star Line (sister to the ill-fated Titanic and Britannic liners) utilised dazzle-painted
camouflage or ‘zebrage’ patterns (Figure 2.5) to accompany naval camouflaged vessels.

To give the general public a sense of these ‘war painted’ Second World War vessels,
HMS Belfast was recently (1999) repainted in the Second World War original dazzle
camouflage design.

Origins of Camouflage

What we see and what we think we see are not the same thing because of the ability
of camouflage to fool the mind of the human observer. In military terms, camouflage
has always been of considerable use to the military since warfare began, often with
Visibility • 37

an element of deception added as well (ask King Priam or Gideon), but it definitely
became a vital part of modern military tactics after the increase in accuracy and rate of
fire of weapons during the late nineteenth century. Despite the benefits of camouflage,
until the twentieth century armies still continued to wear very bright colours with
bold designs, for a variety of reasons, including intimidation and to allow easier
identification of one’s own combat units in the ‘fog of war’. As discussed previously,
the intention of camouflage is to disrupt an outline by merging it into its surroundings,
thus making a soldier on land or a ship at sea harder to spot and consequently harder
to hit if detected and targeted. In nature camouflage is a way of using protective
colouration that will conceal an animal being distinguished from its surroundings by
a predator. The reader is invited to look at the breadth of cryptic camouflage and also
its link to the principles of animal communication; for further detailed work on this
subject, see Bradbury et al. [3].

In practice it is a soldier’s uniform which makes him indistinguishable from his

surroundings. The British Army first adopted khaki operationally in India after 1857,
surprisingly late after their experiences in the American War of Independence where
the red tunic made the typical English solider a highly visible target. The high casualty
rate of the British in India forced them to dye their traditional red tunics to more neutral
or drab tones, initially a muddy tan called ‘khaki’ from the Urdu word for mud. Similarly
the Russian-Japanese War in 1905 led the Russian army to change their long-held
views of visibility and developed a grey form of khaki. Likewise most of the world’s
armies during this period took up a form of khaki that would best help them to use
camouflage effectively in their own particular environments. With the First World War,
there was a final end to elaborately bright and embellished uniforms, except for certain
ceremonial duties. This was truly the commencement of the rise of khakis, particularly
greys, browns and greens, which were introduced to match the demands of modern
military operations, affecting everything that was worn.

Camouflage became well established in land warfare by the end of the First World
War and unlike naval camouflage developed much further during the Second World
War. The level of sophistication used then was such that camouflage netting was even
successfully deployed in North African Allied campaigns alongside various inflatable
tank decoys to provide convincing troop deployment locations to confuse Rommel
and mislead his German forces.

Current technology has facilitated the development of various computer-generated

camouflage schemes, for example, CAMOGEN [4], and there is considerable
international collaboration in camouflage, concealment and deception, including the
development of thermal camouflage to minimise heat detection [5]. As well as
the use of vertical and horizontal lines is the use of splinter camouflage, breaking up
38 • Stealth Warship

the overall outline so the brain cannot recognise the target, as exemplified by the
Swedish Visby stealth corvette, and Norwegian patrol craft, which is especially useful
in a brown water (littoral) environment in close proximity to a highly fractured fjord
coastline or amphibious assault.

Camouflage face paints are also needed for inserted amphibious forces (and land
forces) even for quite dark skin because natural skin oils reflect strongly, especially
from the forehead and cheekbones, and these need to be painted dark. There are also
other areas under the eyes, nose and chin which are naturally shadowy areas and must
be painted lighter to reduce overall contrast. Traditionally there are three common
colour schemes:

1. loam and light green for vegetation and woodland,

2. sand and light green for desert, and
3. loam and white for snow-covered regions, such as the Arctic.

It should also be noted that visual face paints of themselves do not necessarily
minimise the heat radiated by the human face. Typical heat or infra-red human power
levels are surprisingly high, being in the range of 200–400 W, with output level rising
considerably above this quote figure during strenuous activity.

Contrast of an object or target against its background also changes between the
different wavebands. In Figure 2.6a–c, you can see three identical views of the mouth
of the river Dart taken at Dartmouth castle in the visible, near infra-red and thermal
bands in the autumn [5–7].

Vegetation, for example, appears very bright in the near infra-red (just beyond the
visible end of the spectrum), whilst appearing quite dark in the visible (red) image
showing marked change of contrast. The change in appearance between spectral
bands is most apparent for the castle gun emplacement roof, which is turfed with grass
(bottom right), and the moss on the roof of the Tower Cafe (centre foreground). The
implication of this for the modern armed forces is extremely important. Current military
camouflage must take into account the reflectance of vegetation in both the visible and
the near infra-red as the latest generations of night-vision image intensifier (II or I2)
technology is sensitive to the near infra-red part of the spectrum. The correct use of
‘netting’, particularly by the army for concealment in the visible spectrum, will not on
its own guarantee that an object such as a vehicle will blend equally successfully into
its background in the near infra-red as it does in the visible! Hence modern camouflage
chemistry research must incorporate effectively synthetic versions of chlorophyll A
and B to match the netting and camouflage clothing to the inherent properties of the
broad range of natural vegetation. Interestingly animals with strong pigmentation in
Visibility • 39




Ÿ Figure 2.6 River Dart taken in the (a) visible, (b) near infra-red and (c) infra-red thermal view
© CR Lavers

the visible will also retain this characteristic in their skin well into the band of the near
infra-red, as seen with the Hartmann’s zebra; Figure 2.7 [6, 7]

The strong reflectance of vegetation in the near infra-red gives the image a
characteristic ‘snowy’ appearance, but no snow is present in the image! Note with
the zebra the orientation of stripes is at odds with the stripes from other parts of its
body. It is imagined that in a herd of zebra, one individual animal’s disruptive pattern
40 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 2.7 Hartmann’s Zebra, Paignton Zoo © CR Lavers

overlaps with a number of other animals and will not only provide a difficult time for
predators to see them in the first place but will also create a number of ‘virtual’ false
targets at the critical time of committing an attack formed from overlapping ‘bits’ of
several animals.

A simple contrast formula often used across any chosen spectral band, whether visible,
near infra-red or thermal, is defined as follows:

(target intensity − background intensity)

Contrast = __________________________________
(target intensity + background intensity)
For example, if a thermal camera measures a target intensity of 0.5 W m–2 from
a person at a range of 10 m, and the background intensity is 0.25 W m–2, the
contrast = (0.5 – 0.25)/(0.5 + 0.25) = 0.25/0.75 = 1/3.

Contrast will usually range between 0 and +1 maximum positive change, and a
minimum value of zero, found by substituting a background value equal to 0 or
a background value equal to the target value, respectively. Maximum and minimum
values can also be established by the use of differentiation.

Wilkinson used not only black-and-white patterns but also colourful cubist patterns
(Figure 2.8) to confuse U-boat captains, denying speed and heading accuracy, with the
possibility that broken outline patterns could prevent a human operator detecting a
ship at all. Rapidly a team of artists painted over 4,000 merchant and naval vessels
Visibility • 41

Ÿ Figure 2.8 The Normandy landings – 6 June 1944. HMS Uranus and HMS Jervis in the
early morning with landing craft waiting to go in; painting by Norman Wilkinson, held at Britannia
Royal Naval College © CR Lavers

with various stripe styles, blocks and disrupted lines. It was such a success that by the
end of the war less than 1% of dazzle-painted ships were sunk. After the First World
War, there was a gradual decline in dazzle camouflage with a focus on deep ocean
operations, usually with just grey paint. However, with twenty-first-century emphasis
on shallow water operations (littoral), various navies are reconsidering disruptive
camouflage, of which the Swedish Visby stealth corvette is an example (Figure 2.9).
In coastal waters, dazzle camouflage can even prevent ship detection, especially if
suitable netting and naturally available materials (e.g. trees, foliage) are used.

Another problem to avoid detection in the visible is optical glint, which can be very
dramatic at times but is strongly angular dependent (Figure 2.10a and b), making it a
nuisance issue for successful concealment.

The smallest change in solar elevation, particularly near dawn and dusk, over as short a
period as a minute can go from little or no dazzle at all, to an intense directly reflected
glare, and then back to minimal reflection again. Bright reflections from the bridge
windows of ships and lookout binoculars are also now routinely minimised with modern
multiple layer anti-reflection coatings, using the λ/4 destructive interference principle
(i.e. thickness = λ/4). For example, to eliminate a reflected wavelength of 400 nm
42 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 2.9 Visby stealth corvette © Kockums

(end of the visible blue spectrum), the ideal anti-reflection coating should be ¼ of this
value, that is, 100 nm, deposited easily by modern vacuum deposition techniques of
appropriate material. Anti-reflection coatings are especially vital where passive binocular
observations by inserted Special Forces or paramilitary operations could otherwise give
away their own potentially vulnerable and potentially unsupported positions.

Dazzle camouflage is entirely passive – once painted patterns cannot be readily

changed without repainting. Active methods involve altering ship appearance in near
real time to confuse enemies. Active camouflage or adaptive camouflage is actually a
group of related technologies which permit an object to blend into its surroundings
by use of panels or coatings capable of altering their optical appearance, colour,
luminance and reflective properties. Active camouflage has the capacity to provide
‘near perfect’ concealment from visual detection. One example where this proved
extremely valuable during the Second World War was in the efforts to defeat the
U-boat menace, the same threat that nearly crippled the Allies during the First World
War. Aircraft trying to target surfaced submarines had a very difficult time because a
German lookout posted with binoculars could easily spot the dark silhouette of an
incoming aircraft a considerable distance from the submarine, promptly diving to
Visibility • 43



Ÿ Figure 2.10 Change of reflectivity of 1–2° incidence © CR Lavers

the relative safety of deep water and thereby escape the worst affects of near surface
depth charges going off. By 1940, US researchers made aircraft effectively ‘invisible’
by adjusting the brightness of the lights fitted on the leading edges of the wings to
successfully hide aircraft from the U-boat lookouts, preventing them from responding
in time. In this way, Project Yehudi’s Avenger bombers reduced detection to as little as
2 miles from the surface contact.

A more modern variation on this idea was incorporated into the two F-117A
prototypes which utilised distributed optical fibre lighting on its wing surfaces to
44 • Stealth Warship

minimise contrast against the background skies, but after both of these prototype
aircraft crashed the technology was abandoned. In 2005, it was reported that the
European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS), a well-known defence-related
company, was working on developing similar technology that could make planes or
missiles invisible to the naked eye. According to Juergen Kruse, then head of EADS’s
camouflage technology unit, ‘We are examining new technologies with which flying
objects more than 800 metres away cannot be seen … And our goal is a plane that
cannot be detected over great distances.’ These new technologies, if developed, will
probably use light-emitting diodes or active plastic coatings to allow planes to adapt
optically to their surroundings, mimicking the approach taken by chameleons in
nature. These developments combined with the use of small micro air vehicles (MAVs)
will potentially provide a revolutionary new capability for both tomorrow’s war
fighters and other possible civilian applications, especially in urban environments.
Their combination of small size and high manoeuvrability should enable them to
operate within close proximity to specific sites of interest and in highly cluttered

Real-time adaptive camouflage has for a long time been suggested as a really
valuable means to disguise a military vessel or vehicle against its background. In
2007, there was a brief flurry of media excitement when a tank was made ‘invisible’
on Salisbury Plain in the United Kingdom. This feat was achieved by using cameras
linked to projectors to beam an image of the surrounding background landscape
onto a special surface on the tank. A major drawback of this technique is that it
requires a projector to be installed in a position itself likely to come under attack.
A chameleon suit based on this idea was demonstrated several years earlier in
Japan, and the concept might have some tactical value in the future if the platform
itself monitors its background and adjusts active displays or optical materials on its
vulnerable surface direction. A mock-up of an Abrams tank is shown with ‘laptop’
self-projection capability or a full optically active skin (Figure 2.11), perhaps a
practical option.

The Visby, already a very stealthy corvette, would be virtually invisible if this approach
were applied, but would still possess a significantly visible wake at high speed, as seen
in Figure 2.12.

Developments in infra-red electronic camouflage are perhaps further ahead of their

visible counterparts with the development of BAE Systems’ Adaptiv stealth technology.
To the naked eye, a tank still looks like a tank, but with an array of hand-sized, hexagonal
tiles covering the flanks of a tank the vehicle can be turned into a large thermal infra-red
screen. Each tile is effectively an active thermal pixel enabling a tank crew to choose the
image it considers appropriate on the tank so that enemy forces scanning a battlefield
Visibility • 45

Ÿ Figure 2.11 Abrams future optically active ‘skin’ © CR Lavers

Ÿ Figure 2.12 Modified future Visby with active skin © CR Lavers

46 • Stealth Warship

with thermal sensors may be fooled into thinking they are looking at something else, a
tree, bushes or even a sheep or car. Such technology is also applicable for aviation and
maritime applications, particularly for littoral maritime operations [8].

In 1888, an Austrian botanist named Friedrich Reinitzer examined what are now known
as cholesteric liquid crystals. He found that cholesteryl benzoate had two melting
points. At 145.5°C it melted into a cloudy liquid, and at 178.5°C the cloudy liquid became
clear. He wrote to Otto Lehmann who examined the cloudy fluid and reported seeing
crystallites. After his discovery, Reinitzer did not pursue liquid crystals further; Lehmann,
however, had encountered a new phenomenon and began to make observations
with polarised light. The intermediate cloudy phase can flow, but features under the
microscope convinced him he was dealing with a solid. Lehmann’s work was expanded
by Daniel Vorländer who, until his retirement in 1935, synthesised most of the liquid
crystals then known. However, these remained just a scientific curiosity for almost
80 years. In 1969, Hans Kelker then synthesised a substance at room temperature with
a nematic phase N-(4-Methoxybenzylidene)-4-butylaniline (MBBA) composed of rod-
like molecules which tended to have a preferred alignment direction on average. The
next step to commercialising liquid crystal displays (LCD) was George Gray’s synthesis of
chemically stable substances with low melting temperatures, that is, room temperature-
stable liquid crystal materials. In 1973, with Ken Harrison and the UK Ministry of
Defence’s (MOD) Royal Signals Radar Establishment (RSRE, Malvern), Gray designed new
materials resulting in rapid development of small area LCD electronic products, which
have subsequently led to many of the large area flat screen displays we have today.

Encapsulated liquid crystals and colour-changing electrochromic panels may provide

an alternative possibility for relatively low power consumption with large-scale
ship operations. Small voltages applied across very thin liquid crystal cells are able
to create large reflectivity changes (Figure 2.11) [9]. It is the strength of the electric
field which is responsible for the ability to reorientate certain classes of liquid crystal
molecules. These molecules can selectively rotate the plane of visible incident
light polarisation from one direction (without an applied electric field) to another
direction (with electric field applied). The strength of the electric field, E, is found
to have an approximate value using the expression E = V/d, where V is the potential
difference in volts and d is the thickness of the liquid crystal layer. In this way, a small
electric field across a very small liquid crystal cell can provide a very high electric
field. For a voltage of 6 V and a liquid crystal cell of 6 μm thick (6 millionths of a
metre), the electric field = 6/(6 × 10–6) = 1 mV m–1, a surprisingly large figure and
one of the reasons that liquid crystals were developed in the United Kingdom for
military applications, besides the wide number of civilian applications that have
arisen through technology transfer.
RSS reflectivities Visibility • 47


10V 12V

Incident angle
Morpho wing with (left) air superstrate and
Experimentally recorded RSS reflectivities as a (right) acetone superstrate
function of applied DC voltage for the ferroelectric
liquid crystal SCE8 at room temperature

Ÿ Figure 2.13 Voltage dependent reflectivity © CR Lavers

In Figure 2.13 (left), we see large reflectivity changes with only small voltage variations
applied. Combined with natural photonics structures such as butterfly iridescence,
liquid crystals could alter reflectivity in a more controlled yet dramatic manner for stealth
technology applications (Figure 2.13, right). Here we see the striking wavelength-specific
high reflectance from the ordered non-metallic (though metallic looking) diffraction
grating structure on a butterfly’s wing (such as Morpho rhetenor), with air only above the
wing (coloured blue) and, in the second image on the right, with a fine spray of acetone
applied to the surface (coloured green). The observed spectral reflectance changes
dramatically as the acetone evaporates, going from green back to blue again. These
exciting naturally occurring materials and structures may help to develop the real-time
adaptive control of colour, using biological photonics. Nature exhibits a broad range
of materials and nanostructures which successfully control an animal’s appearance, in
some cases with active photonic processes, for example, the cuttlefish (Figure 2.14).

The study of structurally generated colour in animals is now fast becoming a fascinating
research area. Complex shell and scale photonic band gap (PBG) nanostructures, in
marine and terrestrial animals, provide a vast potential for the man-made manipulation
of perceived colour. In some butterflies, for example, ultra-long-range visibility up
to 2 km has been attributed to nanostructures formed by discrete multilayers of air
and cuticle. In other species photonic structures are designed to produce strong
polarisation effects. Some optical systems employ photonic crystals to produce partial
PBGs, with bright colours reflected, or fluorescence inhibited, over specifically defined
angle ranges. In principle, from the perspective of modern optical technology, these
two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) periodic or repeating structures
are potentially able to manipulate the flow of light in all possible directions [10, 11].
This approach may with the use of high-speed digital computer processing and design
48 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 2.14 Cuttlefish

be applied to most maritime threat spectral wavelengths, from the relatively short
ultraviolet wavelength to longer radar wavelengths, and the detailed studies of natural
systems, including butterflies, are now yielding a better understanding of possible
structures for the future [12, 13], especially for metamaterials, introduced in Chapter 3.

Nano-structured zinc oxide replica wing structures have been routinely produced
using Ideopsis similis butterflies in China [14]. My colleagues and I briefly have
investigated the gold/palladium deposition onto Morpho wings as a template for
voltage-controllable liquid crystal cells. However, liquid crystal layers applied directly
to the natural wing grating stop the photonic structure operating effectively through
the presence of strong random scattering. Other possibilities involve trying to create
heat-absorbent structures using coated templates. Man-made photonic structures
with constructive interference in the heat bands may be incorporated into spacesuits
or desert garments to reduce heat effects. As far as a butterfly is concerned, heat
radiates or is lost into its wings from its body in the absence of a strong solar heating
source. Iridescence has little or no benefit at such heat wavelengths as butterfly
photonic structures create modest visible ‘blue interference flashes’ but absorb
heat poorly. However, brown wings have greater light absorption yet weak thermal
absorption, so light is absorbed generating heat! Man-made absorbing materials will
improve light absorption whilst simultaneously resulting in materials with increased
thermal absorption. Man-made photonic structures may be designed to have low light
absorption and low light-to-heat transfer. Depending on the interference structure on
Visibility • 49

the naturally absorbing biochrome layer, little or much heat may be reflected from
a designer surface. Liquid crystals offer not only the proven realisation of voltage-
controllable optical changes but also temperature-related changes as well, across a
range of wavelengths [15].

Of course butterflies are able to use their ability to open and close their wings in and out
of sunlight to stabilise their temperature and thereby influence the heat transfer from
air to wings and subsequently from the interface between the wings to the body. We
were able to image the circulation structure of the swallowtail butterfly for the first time
using a radiometrically calibrated thermal camera, with the circulation heat patterns
appearing as ‘dragon fly’ wings on the otherwise black upper wing surfaces (Figure 2.15).

Ships are also in an ‘interesting’ position, existing at the interface between the above-
water and below-water environments, and may be viewed not only from above (by
aircraft or satellite) but also from below (from submarines or unmanned underwater
vehicles (UUVs)). Practical issues of the upwelling and downwelling of visible light from
the above-water environment mean that there is a perceived threat to not only surface
moving vessels from above but also below the water for submarines operating in a
shallow water environment. This problem is very similar to that discussed earlier for
operation of a high-altitude aircraft flight and its colouration when viewed from below.
This requires the development of sophisticated submarine camouflage schemes

Ÿ Figure 2.15 Thermal image of swallowtail butterfly showing its wing circulation patterns
© CR Lavers
50 • Stealth Warship

for littoral operations in a similar way that the Visby stealth corvette has adapted its
paint schemes to reflect their unique operations amongst complex fjord coastlines.
Most underwater camouflage schemes experimented with to date tend to involve a
combination of blue-and-black stripe configurations, red being a wavelength that is
rapidly attenuated or reduced in even moderate depth of water.

Chapter Reflections

1. Consider the visible target square seen below against its background. If
contrast C = (a − b)/(a + b), where a is the target intensity, It = 1.5 W m–2, and b is
the background intensity, Ib = 1.0 W m–2, what is the value of the contrast (one
decimal place)? What are the conditions for maximum and minimum contrast?
Suggest ways in which the contrast may change.
2. Consider the strong markings on the Hartmann’s zebra in Figure 2.7 in the near
infra-red. What consequences do these near infra-red spectrum and visible
absorptions have in the far infra-red? What are the implications of this for
military operations?
3. Calculate the maximum relative change in reflectivity between 0 and 10 V
applied across the liquid crystal electro-optical device illustrated in Figure 2.13
for various incident angles. Does the angle of incidence make a significant
difference to this relative change?
4. For a thickness of 10 μm and an applied voltage of 12 V, what is the magnitude
of the electric field produced (two significant figures)?
5. For a near infra-red wavelength of 900 nm, what is the ideal thickness for
a transparent coating of indium tin oxide to minimise any reflected infra-red
(three significant figures)?
Visibility • 51


1. Sweetman, B (2004), Lockheed Stealth. San Jose, CA: Zenith Press.

2. Shripad P Mahulikar et al 2009 ‘Study of sunshine, skyshine, and earthshine for aircraft
infrared detection’, J. Opt. A: Pure Appl. Opt. 11, 045703.
3. Bradbury, JW and Vehrencamp, SL (1998), Principles of Animal Communication.
Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.
4. Stroud, C, Sutherland, R, Wilson, M and Filbee, D (2005), ‘CAMOGEN – A method for
generating optimized camouflage schemes’, Journal of Defence Science, 10(1): 10–17.
Unlimited theme paper.
5. Olsen, FB (2005), Methods for evaluating thermal camouflage. Norwegian Defence
Research Establishment, Kjeller, conference paper, 33 pages, approved for public release,
report number: A946654.
6. Lavers, C, Franks, K, Floyd, M and Plowman, A (2005), ‘Application of remote thermal
imaging and night vision technology to improve endangered wildlife resource
management with minimal animal distress and hazard to humans’, Journal of Physics:
Conference Series, 15: 207–212. Sensors and Their Applications XIII.
7. Lavers, C, Franks, K, Floyd, M and Plowman, A (2005), ‘Application of remote far infra red
thermal imaging and night vision technology to improve endangered wildlife resource
management with minimal animal distress and hazard to humans’, Proceedings of the
Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society Annual Conference, with the NERC
Earth Observation Conference, ‘Measuring, Mapping and Managing a Hazardous World’,
6–9 September, Portsmouth University, Portsmouth, UK.
8. Michell, S (2011), ‘The Invisibility Cloak’, Rusi Defence Systems, autumn/winter, pp. 80–81.
9. Lavers, CR (2008), ‘Stealthy materials’, Material World, December, pp. 33–35. Institute of
10. Krauss, TF, DeLaRue, RM and Brand, S (1996), ‘Two-dimensional photonic-bandgap
structures operating at near-infrared wavelengths’, Nature, 383(6602): 699–702.
11. Russell, P St J (2003), ‘Photonic crystal fibres’, Science, 299(5605): 358–362. (Review article.)
12. Vukusic, P and Sambles, JR (2003), ‘Photonic structures in biology’ (PDF), Nature,
424(6950): 852–855.
13. Kinoshita, S, Yoshioka, S and Kawagoe, K (2002), ‘Mechanisms of structural colour in the
3Morpho butterfly: Cooperation of regularity and irregularity’ (PDF), Proceedings of the
Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 269(1499): 1417–1421.
14. Zhang, W, Zhang, D, Fan, T, Ding, J, Gu, J, Guo, Q and Ogawa, H (2006), ‘Biomimetic zinc
oxide replica with structural colour using butterfly (Ideopsis similis) wings as templates’,
Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 1(3): 89–95.
15. Lavers, CR (1991), ‘Wavelength characterisation of ferroelectric liquid crystal cells’, Japanese
Journal of Applied Physics, 30(4): 729–734.
‘I will take the Ring’, he said, ‘though I do not know the way’.
Frodo, ‘The Council of Elrond’ from The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

Active ‘cloaking’ plasma shields may protect naval warships in the not so distant future.
Certainly Soviet aircraft plasma antennae are known already to have the ability to
substantially reduce radar reflections, deflecting waves around combat aerial platforms.
Plasma antennae, like commonplace neon lights, do not reflect radar energy when
switched off. Consequently they are very stealthy, unlike some of the older and large
reflecting metal radar systems used by the Royal Navy during the Falklands Conflict.
When a radio-frequency (RF) electric pulse is applied to one end of a neon tube, the
energy from the RF pulse ionises the gas molecules inside the tube to produce plasma
which can strip away the outermost electrons from their parent atoms. The high
electron density of these relatively mobile (or ‘free’) electrons within this plasma makes
it an excellent conductor of electricity, just like a metal, whilst in this energised state,
the enclosed plasma can readily radiate, absorb or reflect electromagnetic (EM) waves.
However, unlike a metal reflector, once the applied voltage across the plasma device
(or neon tube) is switched off again, the plasma very rapidly returns to being a neutral
gas (or mixture of gases), and the antenna, in effect, disappears. It has been suggested
that plasmas could form the basis of a compact and stealthy upgrade to the heavy,
bulkhead-mounted, metallic phased array radars used today on the US Navy’s Aegis
cruisers and other vessels, and some American work has been reported in this area.

Despite the obvious technical difficulties of designing an actual plasma stealth device
for modern combat aircraft, there are already claims that such a system has already
been created, achieving some degree of stealth success in Russia from as early as 1999.
In January 1999, the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency published an apparent interview
with doctor Anatoliy Koroteyev, director of the Keldysh Research Centre (FKA Scientific
Invisible Futures • 53

Research Institute for Thermal Processes), where he talked in some detail about a
plasma stealth device developed by his own organisation. The Institute for Thermal
Processes is one of the top scientific research organisations in the world in the field of
fundamental physics, and his comments cannot be quickly dismissed or discounted.
The Journal of Electronic Defense reported that ‘plasma-cloud-generation technology
for stealth applications’ which had been developed in Russia could reduce an aircraft’s
radar cross section (RCS) by a factor of 100.

According to this June 2002 article, the Russian plasma stealth device was reputed to
have been tested previously in test flights onboard a Sukhoi Su-27 IB fighter-bomber,
reporting that similar research into applications of plasma for RCS reduction was also
at that time being carried out by Accurate Automation Corporation (Chattanooga,
Tennessee) and Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Virginia) in the United States, and
by Dassault Aviation (Saint-Cloud, France) and Thales (Paris, France). The Sukhoi Su-27
is a twin-engine manoeuvrable fighter aircraft intended as a direct competitor against
American fourth-generation fighters, with a 3,530 km range or endurance, heavy
armament, sophisticated avionics and quoted high manoeuvrability. The Su-27 most
often flies air superiority missions, but can perform almost all combat roles. The Su-27’s
closest US counterpart is realistically the F-15 Eagle.

Plasma, like the earth’s magnetosphere (which is a magnetic shield around the earth
protecting it from solar flares and harmful radiation storms), could generate invisible
shields extending around a ship’s exposed upper surfaces, also protecting it from
advanced particle beam weapons and high-energy RF weapon systems currently
under development. Particle beams are essentially near-light-speed weapons and are
much more difficult to control and point than laser weapons. Particle beams are strictly
a line-of-sight device and once fired cannot be redirected.

Particle beam research work is ongoing at various laboratories worldwide, in particular

at the Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratories, Kirtland Air
Force Base (AFB) and the White Sands Test Range in the United States. There are several
reasons for the interest in particle beam and laser weapons, as they are both able to
deliver all their energy directly onto the intended target. Second, they do not waste
significant energy on having to deliver a conventional missile only a small percentage
of which will be the actual explosive ordnance. Third, the speed of flight is so rapid that
even if the initial ‘firing’ is off-target, the target can within seconds be exactly aligned
along the targeting bore-sight.

Although plasma antenna technology is still in its infancy, the US Navy has been
working on developing plasma antenna systems for almost two decades. It was
certainly hoped that plasmas could form the basis of a stealthy upgrade to the heavy
54 • Stealth Warship

Aegis passive phased array radar. Microwave beams from these arrays of antenna
elements can be steered electronically towards multiple targets whilst still conducting
search, navigation and other radar operations. Such a radar is said to be multifunctional
because it can perform several different tasks at the same time. It was believed that
such plasma antenna technology controlled by strong magnetic fields would create
a more precisely focused microwave beam technology. However, to function well, the
resulting beams needed to be steered accurately in two dimensions, and this was not
achieved, so the US Navy finally cancelled the research programme. Current upgrades
are likely to be based around the use of lighter active phased array systems such as the
Sampson radar on the Royal Navy’s latest stealthy Type 45 warship, which has been
evaluated at White Sands Missile Base in America for upgrade suitability.

Radar Metamaterials

In the future, invisibility may become possible in certain specific narrow parts of the
EM spectrum. David Smith at Duke University, Durham recently demonstrated the
first microwave invisibility ‘cloak’, leading to the intriguing possibility that perhaps
one day very soon a radar cloak could be developed that will prevent an enemy radar
seeing metallic objects, using metamaterials that could hide ships or missiles from
enemy radar [1]. Metamaterials are a very recent but exciting area of research around
the world. Metamaterial-engineered composites are tailored to have EM properties
not found in nature, and they share many similarities with photonic crystals, which
have periodic structures that permit only certain wavelengths to pass through them
whilst preventing others. Metamaterials are artificial composite materials exhibiting
extraordinary physical properties which are not observed in natural materials and
have a huge potential for military and civilian optical and acoustic stealth applications.
Unlike photonic crystals, metamaterial features are much smaller than the functional
wavelength the cloak is intended to operate at (Figure 3.1).

So-called artificial ‘meta-atoms’ are sub-wavelength resonators and have a size of

λ/10 or less, so the metamaterial medium appears to be uniform or homogeneous
at the wavelength scale. If materials are considered to be either metals (conducting)
or dielectric (insulating), an interesting representation can be given and plotted as a
function of magnetic permeability and electric permittivity (Figure 3.2).

It is useful to define the meaning of ‘dielectric’, ‘permeability’ and ‘permittivity’ at this

point. A dielectric is an electrical insulator that can be polarised by an applied electric
Invisible Futures • 55

Rod (Inductance)

resonators Circuit board

Ÿ Figure 3.1 Metamaterial features © CR Lavers

Magnetic permeability

Optical magnetic materials

Stealth applications

Metals 1 Dielectrics

1 Electric permittivity
High-index materials
Double negative materials
Index n < 0, negative
refraction backward waves

Right-handed conventional material

+10 degrees
–10 degrees
Left-handed metamaterial

Ÿ Figure 3.2 Magnetic permeability versus electric permittivity © CR Lavers

field. When a dielectric is placed in an electric field, electric charges do not flow through
the material, as in a conductor, but move a little from their average equilibrium positions
so that positive charges are displaced towards the field and negative charges shift in
56 • Stealth Warship

the opposite direction. In electromagnetism, absolute permittivity is a measure of how

an electric field affects, and also is affected by, a dielectric medium. The permittivity (ε)
of a medium describes how much electric field (or flux) is ‘generated’ per unit charge.
Less electric flux will exist in a medium with a high permittivity (per unit charge) due
to polarisation effects. Hence, permittivity reflects a material’s ability to transmit (or
‘permit’) an electric field to pass through the medium. In SI units, permittivity, ε, is
measured in farads per metre (F m–1), ε = εrε0, where εr is the relative permittivity of the
material and ε0 = 8.85 × 10−12 F m–1 is the vacuum permittivity. Similarly permeability
explains a material’s ability to support a magnetic field or flux within it. It is the degree of
magnetisation that a material acquires in response to an applied magnetic field so that
the more conductive a material is to a magnetic field, the higher its permeability. In SI
units, permeability is measured in henries per metre (H m−1). The permeability constant
(μ0) is the permeability of free space and has a defined value of μ0 = 4π × 10−7 H m−1.
Further applied marine electromagnetism issues are to be found in a recently revised
book on the subject [2].

If magnetic permeability is plotted against electric permittivity, then the region

of interest is the south-west quadrant where magnetic permeability and electric
permittivity are both negative. One of the unusual properties here is that a wave
will undergo backward refraction, for example, a wave incident from the left at an
interface between another conventional material region will be refracted down by
the same number of degrees that a conventional material region would refract it up
(see Figure 3.2). Various combinations of permeability and permittivity values give rise
to classes of materials with ‘ordinary’ properties and also regions where materials have
unusual properties (the red region). Using materials that have such negative values
may make it possible to take optical images of objects smaller than the wavelength
of visible light, to probe DNA and viruses, for example, and accelerate developments
in photo-nanolithography (allowing etching of ever smaller electronic devices and
circuits) and for new types of antennas, mobile phones and computers to be fabricated.

Photonic crystals are repetitive periodic structures designed to affect the motion of
photons (light) in a similar way that the periodicity of a semiconducting crystal affects
the motion of electrons passing through them. Photonic crystals occur naturally
and have been studied for the past 110 years or so and contain regularly repeating
internal regions of both high and low dielectric constant photons travelling through
the structure, or do not, depending on their wavelength. Wavelengths of light that
are allowed to travel through are known as modes, and groups of these allowed or
permitted modes form bands. Forbidden bands of wavelengths are called photonic
band gaps (PBG). This phenomenon is based on diffraction, with the periodicity of the
crystal structure being half the wavelength of EM waves, that is, varying from 200 nm
periodicity for 400 nm radiation (blue) to 350 nm periodicity for 700 nm (end of the
Invisible Futures • 57

Ÿ Figure 3.3 Opal

red visible spectrum) for photonic crystals in the visible spectrum. However, repeating
regions of high and low dielectric constants must have these dimensions. This makes
manufacture of optical photonic crystals very complex. An example of a naturally
occurring photonic crystal is the gemstone opal; its colours are essentially a photonic
crystal phenomenon based on Bragg diffraction of light from the crystal’s lattice planes,
which is composed of minute spherical crystals of metastable silica (or cristobalite;
Figure 3.3). Another photonic crystal is found on the wings of some butterflies, such as
those of genus Morpho discussed earlier towards the end of Chapter 2.

Before 1987, one-dimensional (1D) photonic crystals in the form of periodic multi-layer
stacks had already been studied extensively. In fact as far back as 1887 Lord Rayleigh
(12 November 1842–30 June 1919) showed that such systems have a 1D PBG, with a
range of high reflectivity, known as a transmission stop band. Today, such structures are
used in diverse applications, from highly reflective coatings to highly reflective mirrors
used in laser cavities. Lord Rayleigh (born John William Strutt, third Baron Rayleigh) was
not only one of the most influential scientists in British history but also one of a rare few
of high nobility who achieved fame as an outstanding scientist.

In the late 1960s, scientists began to propose what might happen if a material had a
negative refractive index, causing it to bend light in the opposite direction compared
with ordinary materials. Then a detailed theoretical study of 1D optical structures was
58 • Stealth Warship

performed by Bykov in the early 1970s [3], who speculated as to what could happen
if two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) periodic optical structures were
used, although at this time beyond current technical fabrication capabilities. However,
practical demonstration of 2D and 3D structures also had to wait until the publication
of two key academic papers in 1987 by Eli Yablonovitch and John Sajeey on photonic
crystals [4, 5]. Both papers concerned high-dimensional periodic optical structures or
photonic crystals.

Because of the difficulty of fabricating these structures at optical scales, as already

mentioned, early studies were made in the microwave regime, where photonics
structures can be built on more accessible centimetre scales, because of a useful
property of EM fields known as scale invariance – solutions to Maxwell’s equations
which have no natural length scale and solutions such that centimetre-sized structures
at microwave frequencies are the same as those for nanometre-sized structures at
optical frequencies. For example, if the ratio size of the structure (d) to the wavelength
(λ) is given as d/λ, then for a 3 cm structure at a wavelength of 6 cm the ratio of 0.5
is the same as that for a 300 nm structure examined at a wavelength of 600 nm (red

In 1991, Yablonovitch demonstrated the first 3D PBG in the microwave regime [6].
In 1996, Thomas Krauss made the first demonstration of a 2D photonic crystal at
optical wavelengths [7]. Although such techniques are still to mature into widespread
commercial applications, 2D photonic crystals have found commercial use in photonic
crystal fibres (known as holey fibres because of the air holes that run through them).
Photonic crystal fibres were first developed by my colleague Philip St John Russell in
1998 [8] at the Optoelectronic Research Centre (ORC), Southampton, with whom Sergio
Barcelos and I worked on optical fibre surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensors [9, 10].
Holey fibres can be designed to possess enhanced properties over (normal) optical
fibres, such as reduced dispersion (spreading) of laser pulses in the fibre.

Development of 3D photonic crystals is slow, as there are no readily applicable existing

techniques from the semiconductor industry for 3D PBG materials. Another strand
of research that has been trying to construct 3D photonic structures is that of self-
assembly – essentially allowing mixtures of dielectric nanospheres to settle out of
complex colloidal solutions or even liquid crystal phases.

Smith’s first microwave metamaterial was composed of peculiar periodic patterns of

rings and wires on a former background of fibre glass. Metamaterials have a negative
refractive index, bending light towards the normal, so that at centimetric wavelengths
microwaves incident on the cloak bend around it, so an observer ‘sees’ waves pass as it
were through empty space.
Invisible Futures • 59

Almost all materials in optics, such as water or glass, have positive values for both
electrical permittivity and magnetic permeability. However, some metals (such as silver,
gold and aluminium) have negative permittivity at visible wavelengths. A material
having either, but not both, permittivity or permeability negative is opaque to EM
radiation, so appearing highly reflective (metallic) and often coloured. The refractive
index of materials is given by N = ±√(ε × μ). All transparent materials have positive
values for both ε and μ. However, for man-made engineered metamaterials with ε < 0
and μ < 0, this will still produce a real positive N value. The consequences of this are
quite profound; for example, if we just consider Snell’s law, that is, N1 sin θ1 = N2 sin θ2
and if N2 is negative, light rays will be refracted on the same side of the normal on
entering the material!

Optical Metamaterials

Engineers at Purdue University were the first researchers to create a material that has
a ‘negative index of refraction’ in the near infra-red (NIR) wavelengths of light that are
used for telecommunications, a step that should lead in future to better and faster
communications and imaging technologies. ‘This work represents a milestone because
it demonstrates that it is possible to have a negative refractive index in the optical
range, which increases the likelihood of harnessing this phenomenon for optics and
communications’, said Vladimir Shalaev, the Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of
Electrical and Computer Engineering. The material consists of tiny parallel ‘nanorods’ of
gold that conduct clouds of electrons called ‘plasmons’ with frequencies of EM radiation
in the NIR part of the EM spectrum. The wavelength size of this NIR light is very close
to 1.5 μm (1.5 millionth of a metre), the same wavelength used for current generations
of broadband fibre-optic communications. ‘This is the most important wavelength for
communications’, relates Shalaev.

The exciting thing about these newly engineered nanorods is that they are able to
reverse the process of refraction, which occurs as EM waves bend when passing from
one material to another and is caused by a change in the speed of light propagation.
Scientists measure the bending of radiation by its ‘index of refraction’. Refraction causes
the bent-stick-in-water effect, when a stick placed in a glass of water appears bent
when viewed from outside. Each material has its own refractive index, the N described
earlier, which predicts how much light bends in that material and how much the speed
of light slows down while passing through it. All natural materials, such as glass, air and
water, have positive refractive indices. For example, if the index of refraction is defined
60 • Stealth Warship

as N = c/v, where c is the speed of light in vacuum and v the speed the light travels in
a particular medium, we can assign various refractive index values to different media.
Consider light travelling in vacuum; then clearly N = c/c = 1 and the refractive index of
vacuum is 1. In air, where light travels a little less than the speed of light in vacuum,
the refractive index will be a little greater than 1. For light travelling in water, where
the speed v is about (3/4)c, N = c/(3/4)c = 4/3 or 1.333 approximately. More about basic
wave properties, such as refraction and reflection, are covered from the view point of
the marine engineer elsewhere [11].

In 2000, Sir John Pendry at Imperial College London theorised that slabs of such
material might create a ‘superlens’ that would improve the quality of medical imaging
technologies [12]. In theory, such metamaterial lenses could compensate for the
loss of light that inevitably occurs as an image passes through a lens or compound
(multiple) lens system. Lenses and imaging systems could be substantially improved
if this lost light (or evanescent light) were ‘recovered’. An imaging system with a
combination of normal positive refraction and negative refraction could potentially
restore the lenses’ imaging ability. The first real superlens having a negative refractive
index provided a resolution three times better than the theoretical diffraction limit
and was demonstrated at the University of Toronto by A Grbic and GV Eleftheriades
in 2006 [13].

Various research groups have now successfully fabricated ‘metamaterials’ of tiny metal
rings and rods, all having a negative refraction index. Purdue researchers created the
first metamaterial with a negative refractive index in the NIR [14], just beyond visible
light, demonstrating the feasibility of applying the concept to communications in the
first instance but opening the possibility for future sensing and stealth applications and
visible light operation (Figure 3.4).

The material, created by Purdue engineers, conducts clouds of electrons or ‘plasmons’

with a frequency of light in the NIR, the same wavelength used for fibre-optic
communications. Each rod is about as wide as 100 nm and 700 nm long.

‘The challenge was to fabricate a structure that would have not only an electrical
response, but also a magnetic response in the NIR range’, Shalaev said. Gold
nanorods conduct plasmons, moving as if they were a single coordinated object
instead of many millions of individual separate electrons. Light from a laser shone
onto the nanorods induces an ‘electro-optical current’ in the tiny circuit. Each rod
is only about 100 nm wide and 700 nm long. ‘These rods basically conduct current
because they are a metal, producing an effect we call optical inductance, while
a material between the rods produces another effect called optical capacitance’,
Shalaev said.
Invisible Futures • 61

Ÿ Figure 3.4 A field-emission scanning electron microscope image showing tiny parallel
nanorods of gold
Note: Gold is the first material that has a ‘negative index of refraction’ in the wavelengths used for
telecommunications, a step that could lead to better communications and imaging technologies.

The result is the formation of a very small electromagnetic circuit, but this
circuit works in higher frequencies than normal circuits, in a portion of the
spectrum we call optical frequencies, which includes the Near Infra Red.
So we have created a structure that works as kind of an optical circuit and
interacts effectively with both of the field components of light: electrical
and magnetic.

The research was funded by the US Army Research Office and the National Science
Foundation. ‘Although many researchers are sceptical about developing materials with
a negative index of refraction in optical wavelengths and then using them in practical
technologies, I think the challenges are mainly engineering problems that could
eventually be overcome’, Shalaev said. ‘There is no fundamental law of physics that
would prevent this from happening.’

The combination of rods (with inductance L) and rings (generating capacitance C)

provides the LC component of the metamaterial circuit which interacts effectively
with both the electrical and magnetic field components of light. Shalaev’s early work
achieved a negative refractive index of N of about –0.3 at 1.5 μm wavelength with a
62 • Stealth Warship

double periodic array of gold nanorods. In 2006, David Schurig and David Smith at
Duke University successfully hid or ‘cloaked’ a central copper ring by surrounding
it with concentric rings of metamaterial 1 cm high and 12 cm across. The rings were
sandwiched between two plates so microwaves could only travel through the ‘cloak’
in the plane of the rings – so this is a very controlled geometry and not immediately
applicable to the ‘unobliging’ radar beams which can originate in a warfare environment
at any moment from completely unexpected directions.

In spite of cautious scepticism of developing visible optical metamaterials, in March

2003 professor Harry Atwater reported his success in constructing a nanofabricated
photonics material that creates a negative index of refraction in the blue-green region
of the visible spectrum where the powerful Argon-ion laser operates. This report in
Science Express was followed in 2009 by his demonstration of a single-layer, wide-
angle negative-index metamaterial at visible frequencies which was insensitive to
polarisation operating over a ±50° angular range [15].

Optical and radar metamaterials may provide some useful steps for the radar
designer to engineer ships invisible to human observers and radar, but this is an
enormous technological challenge even for a relatively small radar spectrum (typically
0.5–100 GHz), let alone the entire threat EM spectrum of the modern battle space. Even
if such a cloak could be built, its military applications for large-scale stealth reduction
would be severely limited by its own size and weight, since a missile, for example, cannot
carry a heavy cloaking or screening device. Nonetheless the concept of photonic band
pass gap structures allows for the construction of waveguide structures, such as those
recently developed by the Chinese [16].

A more simplistic solution might be found by using the natural elements to our
advantage. The proposed US adaptive water curtain technology (AWCT) is intended
to deflect and scatter enemy radar waves away from the searching radar system, thus
reducing the ship’s RCS (Figure 3.5).

The AWCT system consists of highly conductive sea water pumped up and sprayed
in a fashion that effectively creates an angled radar reflective spray curtain around
the ship for a short period of time, a little like a fountain in the middle of a garden
pond. Water spray use is already common place in both civilian-operated fire boats
(which can project high-pressure water streams several hundred feet into the air
using powerful marine diesel water pumps) as well as in naval application of water
sprays to wash off potentially harmful biological, chemical and other threats from the
upper deck surfaces. Water spray can also defeat electro-optical systems and has been
reputedly used against short-range incoming terrorist speedboats. The use of many
adjustable nozzles could allow the overall shape of the curtain to be controlled and
Invisible Futures • 63

Ÿ Figure 3.5 AWCT system

allow ‘windows’ of opportunity to operate the ship’s own radar and sensors, and fire
various guns and missiles between descending screening curtains of water. Existing
pump technology for the control of multiple pumps after some adaptation could be
capable of generating a ‘faceted’ variable angled curtain that could help to reduce the
RCS and help to defeat the dangerous sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM)
threat, of which the supersonic Exocet and Harpoon are two well-known, radar-guided
missile threats. The former was especially deadly during the Falklands Conflict during
the 1980s. However, as all marine engineers will know, sea water is extremely corrosive
and will readily set up electrochemical reactions between unprotected metal surfaces
(particularly between dissimilar metals). So design of the final system will require
careful practical considerations.

This brings us back to a story that has long been circulating concerning Project Rainbow.
In the autumn of 1943, according to some accounts, the US Navy succeeded in making
a ship invisible, both to the naked eye and to radar systems. The USS Eldridge, so the
story goes, was part of an experiment dubbed Project Rainbow – now more commonly
known as the Philadelphia Experiment – which sought to test invisibility technology
that used EM fields to bend space and time. Some ‘witnesses’ have claimed that they
saw the vessel disappear from view for several minutes, and it has even been suggested
that during this time the Eldridge was ‘teleported’ from the US port of Philadelphia in
64 • Stealth Warship

Pennsylvania to Norfolk in Virginia, some hundred miles down the coast. This story is
now recognised as being a hoax, with official Navy records placing the USS Eldridge
nowhere near Philadelphia during that part of 1943. The Philadelphia Experiment
may have turned out to be a hoax, but real developments in stealth technologies are
proving to be just as interesting. Ironically the US Navy recently announced its new
high-temperature superconductor degaussing facility to be based in Philadelphia. An
example of truth being stranger than fiction!?

Chapter Reflections

1. It is desired to create a photonic crystal using the phenomenon of diffraction.

What should be the desired periodicity of the crystal structure if the wavelength
is intended to be 632.8 nm (three significant figures)?
2. If the periodicity for a photonic crystal is 200 nm, what is the intended wavelength
(one significant figure)?
3. For a wavelength λ, what should the periodicity of the complete metamaterial
structure be if it repeats 10 times over one wavelength spacing?
4. A diffraction grating of 9,000 lines per centimetre is used with white light.
(a) How many orders of spectra will be seen for the nth-order diffraction
d sin θ = nλ?
(b) If the white light is now replaced by a helium-neon (He-Ne) laser operating
at 632.8 nm, at what angle will the first-order diffraction maximum
be observed if the spacing d is now reduced to 1,800 lines per centimetre
(two decimal places)?
Invisible Futures • 65


1. Rahm, M, Schurig, D, Roberts, DA, Cummer, SA, Smith DR and Pendry, JB (2008), ‘Design of
electromagnetic cloaks and concentrators using form-invariant coordinate transformations
of Maxwell’s equations’, Photonics and Nanostructures – Fundamentals and Applications,
6(1): 87–95.
2. Lavers, CR (ed.) (2008), Reeds Volume 6: Basic Electrotechnology for Marine Engineers.
London: Adlard Coles Nautical.
3. Bykov, VP (1972), ‘Spontaneous emission in a periodic structure’, Soviet Journal of
Experimental and Theoretical Physics, 35(2): 269–273.
4. Yablonovitch, E (1987), ‘Inhibited spontaneous emission in solid-state physics and
electronics’, Physical Review Letters, 58(20): 2059–2062.
5. John, S (1987), ‘Strong localization of photons in certain disordered dielectric
superlattices’, Physical Review Letters, 58(23): 2486–2489.
6. Yablonovitch, E, Gmitter, TJ and Leung, KM (1991), ‘Photonic band structure: The
face-centered-cubic case employing nonspherical atoms’, Physical Review Letters, 67(17):
7. Krauss, TF, DeLaRue, RM and Brand, S (1996), ‘Two-dimensional photonic-bandgap
structures operating at near-infrared wavelengths’, Nature, 383(6602): 699–702.
8. Russell, P St J (2003), ‘Photonic crystal fibers’, Science, 299: 358–362. (Review article.)
9. Barcelos, S, Lavers, CR, Zervas, M and Russell, P St J (1993), Mode-selective fibre coupling
using long range surface-plasmons, LEOS Annual Meeting, pp 177–178, 15th–19th
November, San Jose, CA.
10. Lavers, CR, Mosedale, S, Itoh, K, Wu, S, Murabayashi, M, Mauchline, I, Stewart, G, Ross, I,
Shafir, E and Qi, Z (2004), ‘Planar optical waveguides for potential military and clinical
sensing applications’, Journal of Defence Science, 9(2):69–81.
11. Lavers, CR (2011), Basic Electromagnetic Wave Concepts for Engineers. Rayleigh, NC: Lulu
Enterprises, Inc.
12. Pendry, JB (2000), ‘Negative refraction makes a perfect lens’, Physical Review Letters
(American Physical Society), 85: 3966.
13. Grbic, A and Eleftheriades, GV (2004), ‘Overcoming the diffraction limit with a planar left-
handed transmission-line lens’, Physical Review Letters, 92(11): 117403.
14. http://web.ics.purdue.edu/.
15. Burgos, SP, de Waele, R, Polman, A and Atwater, HA (2010), ‘A single-layer wide-angle
negative-index metamaterial at visible frequencies’, Nature Materials, 9: 407–412.
16. Huang, Y, Feng, Y and Jiang, T (2007), ‘Electromagnetic cloaking by layered structure of
homogeneous isotropic materials’, Optics Express, 15: 11133–11141.
All warfare is based on deception.
Sun Tzu, translated from The Art of War (c. 5th century BC)

Infra-red Heat Reduction

At the height of the Cold War during the 1970s the emphasis of stealth and detection
shifted once more with the deployment of a new generation of missiles that could
passively home in on to the very hottest areas of a target by detecting and tracking the
infra-red heat radiation given off. The US Navy had tried – and failed – to develop heat-
seeking devices during the Second World War (one such project was Polaroid’s Project
Dove), and it was not until the Vietnam War that they became common place. The US
Air Force (USAF) first acquired its heat-seeking AIM-4 Falcon and then the more widely
recognised AIM-9 Sidewinder.

The Hughes AIM-4 Falcon was the first operational guided air-to-air missile to enter
service with the USAF, and the development of this guided air-to-air missile began in
the mid-1940s. Hughes aircraft was initially awarded a subsonic missile contract which
was superseded by a supersonic requirement in 1947. The original purpose was for
a self-defence weapon capability on bomber aircraft, but from 1950 it was decided
that it should be used on fighter aircraft instead, especially in an interception role.
The Sidewinder meanwhile was named after the heat-sensing ability of the pit viper
(Figure 4.1).

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried by several

modern fighter aircraft and more recently by modified gunship helicopters. The missile
entered service with the US Navy fairly early on in the mid-1950s, and various variants
Infra-red • 67

Ÿ Figure 4.1 US Marine Corps Lance Cpl Leander Pickens arms an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile
on a FA-18C Hornet

and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces worldwide after five decades
of active service, testifying to its relevant potency today. The USAF also purchased the
Sidewinder after the missile had been developed by the US Navy, and it is perhaps with
the Air Force that it is more usually associated through the medium of film.

The Sidewinder is the most widely used missile of all time in the military of the West,
with over 100,000 missiles produced for the United States and for over 25 other nations,
of which approximately 1% have actually been used under live combat conditions.
The AIM-9 is one of the oldest (and consequently least expensive) and successful
air-to-air missiles to date. Not a bad record for a missile that was originally designed
to be a straightforward platform upgrade. It has been reported that the design goals
for the original Sidewinder were to produce a reliable and effective missile with the
‘electronic complexity of a … radio and the mechanical complexity of a washing
machine’ – goals which were well accomplished in these early missiles!

Current versions of the AIM-9 (the Mach 2 AIM9-L Super Sidewinder weighs a modest
85 kg with an 11.4 kg fragmentation warhead) are improved on their original design,
although these are currently being replaced by the advanced short-range air-to-air
68 • Stealth Warship

missiles (ASRAAM), with higher reliability from having solid state electronics which can
enable guidance to be ‘smarter’ at discriminating targets from clutter and with greater
resistance to jamming. Nonetheless, both of these missiles are extremely potent and
provide a very strong case for the continued use of flare decoys as well as for the
development of various laser-based countermeasure systems, such as Nemesis, which
are being introduced.

Heat-seeking missiles typically use a detector made from a semiconductor such as

lead sulphide, in which incident heat, or infra-red photons, change the resistivity of a
semiconductor material.

Such heat-seeking missile technology is generally bad news for naval warfare, as
warships once at sea emit significant amounts of heat, so reducing their ‘carbon
footprint’ is essential for several reasons. Ships radiate or lose heat from their exhaust
plume, funnels, vents, open hatches, recently fired guns, recently embarked helicopters
and other features. These platform emissions are radiated into the environment, and by
virtue of the atmosphere’s transparency these heat wavelengths may be detected over
very great distances. Add to this fact the problem that thermal heat sensor systems
operate passively (they do not transmit heat or any other radiated signal themselves),
and thus unlike active radar provide very little warning, if at all, of imminent attack
without the use of sophisticated warning receivers.

Ships, however, are easily detected as warm platforms against cold seas and skies,
which enable enemy sensors to detect or guide missiles to intercept with relative ease.
Unlike vehicles and troops on land, there is no simple cover at sea, and no use is to be
made of different natural materials.

Fortunately current generations of heat-seeking missiles are non-imaging, in that they

do not ‘see’ the world around us with clear images. A heat seeker will detect an intense
‘blob’ of heat and will target this; thus it is relatively easy to defeat a heat-seeking
missile with a more attractive ‘hot’ source of heat – if there is enough time to deploy
the decoy source. Heat-seeker missiles will target the middle infra-red (MIR) band of the
electromagnetic spectrum in the range between 3 and 5 μm, that is, 3 to 5 millionth
of a metre, whilst true thermal imagers watch and scrutinise in the range of 8–14 μm,
somewhat further in wavelength with reduced scattering when compared with the
MIR band, although the atmosphere is overall less absorbing in the MIR.

However, recent developments in materials and system design will soon provide a new
generation of 3–5 μm imagers which will render current heat-seeking countermeasures
less effective unless significant improvements are made. The middle band threat is
currently combated by taking practical methods to reduce the heat from the operation
of diesel and gas turbine engines (200–500°C).
Infra-red • 69

Infra-red emission can generally be divided into two parts: the so-called infra-red
cross section (IRCS), which is the total emitted power from a target, and the infra-red
signature (IRS), which is the target’s detailed distribution of heat emitters. If a ship’s
IRCS is sufficiently reduced, it will enhance the overall effectiveness of the ship’s decoys,
such as the use of pyrotechnic phosphorous flares or those of magnesium/aluminium
design. Such a flare not only produces a bright white flash to the human observer,
which may last for several tens of seconds, but also produces copious amounts of heat,
tricking the heat-seeking missile into thinking it has acquired a real, hot ship target.

Imaging sensors, however, can see both the IRCS (the intense bright signal) as well as
the ship’s detail (its signature), allowing for the possibility of actual image and target
(platform) identification. To avoid identification, it is thus vital to reduce both the IRCS
and to ‘blur’ the signature.

Passive ship heat detection depends on several important factors, such as the level
of energy actually emitted towards an infra-red detector and on the propagation
conditions, conditions which can change extremely quickly in a maritime environment.
Infra-red band absorption by atmospheric molecules is also highly wavelength-
dependent because of the vibrations of common molecules with three atoms such as
water and carbon dioxide. Light sand combined with sea salt spray also provide further
additional factors.

As stated previously, warm ships are relatively easy to detect against a cold sea and an
even colder sky background, so warm ships will be easier to detect in the Arctic and
Antarctic waters rather than in the relatively warm seas of the Caribbean, for example.
However, a ship may also be detected as its air-cooled ship’s plating can on occasion
appear much colder than its background. This phenomenon arises as follows. Cold
sky reflections (with clouds typically at temperatures between −30 and −40°C) can be
reflected from a ship’s metal surfaces if improperly angled (metal surfaces are still good
reflectors at these thermal wavelengths) and will then be in danger of ‘showing up’
with a strong contrast difference. Of course, appropriate tilting of the superstructure
can help take this risk into account, but the reader must be reminded that any change
of tilt must not compromise the superstructure tilt that has already been introduced to
reduce the probability of radar detection.

In the 3–5 μm band (or so-called short-wave region of the electromagnetic spectrum),
various hot objects include propulsion units’ exhaust plumes, uptake and funnel
surfaces. This band has a relatively high contrast but generally poor edge definition,
like a bright light source against a poorly lit background, something which is easy to
detect on a dark night, but it is not easy to identify actually what the light source is. Is
the source a man with a torch or a vehicle approaching with one defective light?
70 • Stealth Warship

Most sensors in this band are of the non-imaging heat-seeking type, only being capable
of detecting and tracking a target’s IRCS. The 8–14 μm band (by comparison referred to
as the long-wave band) will cover a range including ‘room temperatures’ and is able to
detect very small differences in temperature, a point I will return to later in this chapter.

Manually or automatically operated thermal imagers can now examine a target’s IRS to
produce extremely high-definition pictures. Very hot sources may dominate the emission
of the 8–14 μm band, but the emissions of other parts of the ship (cooler parts) are still
close to the intensity of its hot parts. High contrast of lower temperature areas means that
high-resolution detectors are sensitive to variation of temperature or emissivity, allowing
features to be identified in imagery in a similar way to that obtained from near infra-red
(NIR) ‘night vision’ goggles. Modern thermal imagers are also able to incorporate false colour
representation and the difference between black and white (more commonly associated
with firefighting applications). Modern thermal imaging cameras (TICs) often include
various false colour palettes, which designed empirically around the eye of the human
observer are best able to detect certain things under specific environmental conditions. The
use of false colour modes can appear quite dramatic at times. Because of the absorption
properties of different surfaces, heat can be absorbed by surface patterns and re-radiated
strongly even when the surface appears visibly dark, producing a negative of the ‘visible’
scene. Consequently strong colours are generally discouraged in platform design as the
dazzle camouflage or ‘zebrage’ features of the visible warfare in the First World War will
otherwise still be visible in the infra-red as well. This concept is ‘echoed’ in the thermal
characteristics of the zebra whose visible stripes pattern is still observed under strong
sunlight (black-and-white and false colour images, Figures 4.2 and 4.3, respectively) [1].

Ÿ Figure 4.2 Black-and-white palette © CR Lavers

Infra-red • 71

Ÿ Figure 4.3 False colour palette © CR Lavers

Different display modes are used to help reveal specific target features and usually
involve different digital signal-processing computer software algorithms to maximise
detectability. Digital data may also be exported via a data link from a camera, maximising
the availability of information for other users.

IRCS Contributors

Gas turbine exhaust plumes are the biggest IRCS contributor usually operating
between 300°C and 500°C at full power. Gas turbines provide power to drive a ship’s
main propulsion shaft. Energy is added to the gas stream in the combustor, where
fuel is mixed with air and ignited. In the combustor’s high-pressure environment, fuel
combustion will increase the gases’ temperature. These combustion products are then
forced into the turbine section. In the turbine, the relatively high velocity and volume
of heated gas flow is directed over the turbine’s blades, spinning the turbine which in
turn powers the compressor.

These exhaust gases then leave the ship’s funnel forming a vertical plume, which as
it expands begins to cool in temperature. Plume shapes and temperatures will tend
to vary with the different engines and operating conditions, with different operating
platforms having relatively well-defined visible plume characteristics. These optical
72 • Stealth Warship

plume recognition characteristics will tend to be carried over into the thermal imaging
part of the spectrum as well.

Although gases are generally quite poor infra-red radiators, as the plumes
themselves contain extremely hot carbon particles which can radiate extremely well,
they are easy to detect. Cold air blowers are introduced to reduce the metal uptake
temperatures and to turbulently mix hot plume gases with further cold air as quickly
as possible so the plume disperses in the shortest possible time interval. However,
one consequence of this temperature reduction is that soot-filled gases can under
some circumstances fall back onto a ship’s upper decks and increase the rate of
corrosion as well as coating the surfaces with less stealthy residues which needed to
be removed.

Engine exhausts are often separated from the funnel’s outer casing, attempting
to reduce surface temperatures further, but even sunlit reflections from a ship’s
superstructure can produce relatively strong long-wave reflections, which are also in
the far infra-red (FIR) band (Figure 4.4). There is, of course, the deceptive possibility of
creating false ‘sacrificial’ hot engine compartments, which could provide an obvious
target for an anti-ship, heat-seeking missile. However, it is usually practical to position
engine compartments at or near the waterline, so the sea surface can provide some
measure of masking against a sea-skimming missile. Alternative approaches can be
taken; for example, the Swedish Visby stealth corvette, which will be discussed in much
more detail later, is designed so that its exhaust heat output is positioned at the stern
of the vessel and consequently masked by extensive spray.

Ÿ Figure 4.4 HMS Kent, far infra-red © CR Lavers

Infra-red • 73

Exhaust ducts are unfortunately very good high-temperature radiators, so most ducts
are positioned vertically so that they are only visible to high-flying aircraft or in recent
years potentially from satellites as well. At low look angles, however, those usually
associated with surfaced submarines, patrolling ships and most missiles, vertical
ducts are almost invisible. Some auxiliary exhaust ducts are horizontal under rare
circumstances, and it is usual to place screen baffles in front of them in this case.

A recently embarked helicopter or missile blast screens just after firing are also likely
to produce transient emissions which may betray a ship’s presence, so placing a
helicopter inside its hanger and closing the hanger door as soon as possible are good
precautionary measures to take. It should not be forgotten that a vehicle, aircraft or
ship may still be detectable with thermal sensors many hours after the engine has been
switched off!

As IRCS is mainly used by heat seekers in the 3–5 μm band, most techniques historically
have been aimed with the focused intent to reduce radiation from very hot objects,
such as a diesel engine exhaust, as most of the heat radiated will be associated with
these hot sources.

In summary, at this point, oddly shaped air blowers can reduce funnel temperatures
and mix exhaust gases with cold air. Equally hot compartments may be insulated from
direct thermal contact with the hull, whilst high-temperature ducts point up, making
them hard to see from the normal viewing direction.

As infra-red emission is a surface problem principally, coating ships in low heat

emitting or low-emissivity paint is a vital requirement as it will reduce the IRCS
significantly. Painted objects will frequently behave much like black bodies in terms of
their infra-red emission. Emissivity can be as high as 99% efficient or ε = 0.99 (1 being
the maximum value for matt paint), whilst normal oil paints are also rather good
infra-red emitters, so tailored designer spray-on low-emissivity paints have been
developed for modern naval use and other temperature-sensitive applications, whilst
at the same time incorporating radar absorbent particles to minimise the radar cross
section (RCS) and having the appropriate visual colour to combat visible detection!
In this way, emissivity can be reduced from typical oil paint values of 0.92–0.94
to provide an approximately sixfold reduction in emissivity, for example, about
0.15–0.17. Emissivity is also highly relevant to the consideration of reflected sunlight
and infra-red, as recent sources in the public domain suggest that conventional paints
reflect about 60% of the heat incident on them, though newer low infra-red ‘greys’
(as found on USN F-14 and F-18) can reflect as little as 5% to 15% of the radiation
incident upon them. It is known that a well-polished aircraft canopy may reflect
enough energy for a lock-on in the thermal band to be achieved, as well as providing
74 • Stealth Warship

a noticeable visual glint to other aviators, thereby losing one of the key elements of
warfare, namely, surprise.

Scintillation (atmospheric sparkling) can also be caused by local variations in the

atmosphere’s refractive index due to variations in atmospheric temperature (e.g. the
flickering of distant images as seen above a hot road) (Figure 4.5).

This effect is not particularly important for modern guidance systems, as the
apparent changes in the target’s position will get smaller as the weapon approaches
the target. However, there is now widespread use of such weapons, and there is also
an increased likelihood that the emergence of asymmetric conflicts in the vicinity
of proxy third-world nations will create a market for a rapid proliferation of heat-
seeking weapons, and the theft of ‘legitimate’ arms sales by bands of armed pirates,
predominantly but not exclusively off the east coast of Africa, may provide future
problems for maritime users.

Modern heat seekers contain an optical filtering device, allowing the transmission of
some wavelengths whilst suppressing others. The principal reason behind the use of
filters in guidance systems is the necessity to suppress strong background infra-red
radiation, usually the dominant component being reflected solar energy or thermal
radiation from the earth’s surface which will enable the missile’s guidance system

Ÿ Figure 4.5 Dartmouth, Devon on a hot summer’s day! © CR Lavers

Note: Note the shimmering effect and the total internal reflection of the car from the road surface.
Infra-red • 75

to successfully (or otherwise) discriminate between various parts of the target’s


Optical filters in these applications fall into two broad groupings, absorption filters
and interference filters, and operate in a very similar way to our discussion of radar
absorbent material. Absorption filters are characterised by wide bandwidths of overall
transmission and are usually employed to suppress large regions, typically sunlight.
Interference filters can be designed with extremely narrow bandwidths and very
good transmittance. They can also reflect unwanted energy instead of absorbing it.
Consider several layers of transparent material, the layers having alternating refractive
index. If we pass heat through these layers, it will be partly reflected at each interface
between the layers, with alternate interfaces reflecting in and then out-of-phase.
Passive infra-red absorbing materials (IRAM) have been developed, following many of
the same arguments as for RAM. However, work on active infra-red camouflage is also
well under way with an actual system already on the market, the BAE Systems’ Adaptiv
stealth technology system. The system is currently designed for a tank covered in an
array of hand-sized, hexagonal tiles covering the tank’s flanks which can be turned
into a large thermal infra-red screen. Each tile is a single active thermal pixel enabling
a tank crew to decide upon the thermal signature it considers most appropriate so
that enemy forces scanning a battlefield with thermal sensors may be fooled into
thinking they are looking at something else, a tree, bushes or even one of their own
tanks. Such technology, as stated earlier in Chapter 2, is also quite applicable for
aviation and maritime applications, particularly for littoral maritime operations, where
a warship might indeed want to appear thermally like an innocent fishing vessel [2].
Another interesting way of reducing the IRS for aircraft is to incorporate a non-circular
tailpipe, by changing the tail slit shape to a more two-dimensional structure (see the
B2 Spirit tailpipe, approximately 6 in. high and 2 ft 6 in. across). This is done in order to
minimise the overall exhaust cross-sectional volume whilst at the same time trying to
maximise the mixing of the hot exhaust gases with cooler ambient air. Often, cooler
air is also deliberately injected into the exhaust flow of aircraft to increase this process.
Sometimes, the jet exhaust may be vented above the wing surface to shield it from
observers below, the likely threat direction, as in the B2 Spirit. However, venting excess
heat energy above does mean that other platforms at even higher altitudes (potentially
sensitive satellite-based platforms) could be able to detect this emitted heat, although
current satellite resolution would be insufficient to achieve more than a transient
detection of a very large aircraft or ship over one or two detector elements at best.

As mentioned earlier, ships have both an IRCS, which is essentially the total
emitted power, and an IRS, which reveals the distribution of heat. Early heat-seeking
missiles were equipped with non-imaging sensors that detect short-wave (3–5  μm)
76 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 4.6 Dartmouth Castle, Devon © CR Lavers

infra-red radiation and which could detect just the IRCS. The short-wave band provides
good contrast but poor definition, thus making it easy to spot hot objects such as a
pyrotechnic flare that had been launched near a ship. Ships can avoid being detected
by missiles using non-imaging systems simply by reducing the infra-red radiation
emitted from hot objects such as the engine exhausts.

Now, however, missiles are also being developed that include imaging sensors that use
both the short-wave and the long-wave (8–14 μm) bands, the so-called ‘dual-colour’
sensors. The long-wave band covers room temperatures in very fine detail, so that
these sensors can generate high-definition images of relatively cool objects or scenes
(Figure 4.6).

Such images reveal individual features of a target, thus allowing the missile to
distinguish between a ship and a decoy. For a ship to avoid being identified as a
target by a missile with this type of sensor, it must blur its IRS as well as reduce its
IRCS. This is difficult as the quality of modern thermal imagery, especially those taken
by commercially available cameras at close range, is now extremely high (Figure 4.7).
In part to counter such advanced threats, we have seen the introduction of Directed
Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) using stroboscopic directed pulses of heat from a
hot source or high-power laser systems. Such countermeasures sit outside the scope of
this particular volume.

The most distinctive features of a ship’s thermal signature are its hot exhaust
plumes (mostly composed of carbon dioxide, partly combusted carbon monoxide
and a small amount of water vapour). Although these gases do not radiate heat well
themselves, they contain hot carbon particles, which radiate infra-red energy very
efficiently. Some suggested methods involve the removal of the partially combusted
Infra-red • 77

Ÿ Figure 4.7 HMS Enterprise, thermal image taken with commercially available thermal
camera © CR Lavers

carbon using carbon scrubbers, in a similar way to those used on modern power stations
to minimise their carbon footprint. Electrostatic scrubbers operate by imparting an
electrical charge to the carbon sooty particles, which can be attracted to an oppositely
charged electrode ‘collector’ before they leave the power plant chimney or ship’s funnel.
Spraying water onto the ship’s upper decks has also been proposed as a way to reduce
and blur the IRS of future generations of warships, but this is likely to increase the RCS
because the water spray produces radar clutter, and this approach would have to be
used with great care.

The most sophisticated investigations have also considered the reflections of external
sources off of platforms, the most prominent being earthshine, sunshine and skyshine
on overall aircraft performance. Earthshine is especially emphasised because of its
significance in low-altitude aircraft missions and infra-red imaging studies. Comparisons
of IRS contribution of aircraft rear-fuselage heated due to internal and external sources
show that they have varying strength for 3–5 μm (MIR) and 8–12 μm (FIR) bands [3],
whilst estimation of infra-red signature levels (IRSLs) for jet engine aircraft operation
is crucial for the design of effective infra-red countermeasures and low observable
engines [4]. IRSL prediction models like NIRATAM and SPIRITS incorporate solar
reflection and earthshine.
78 • Stealth Warship

The Laws of Infra-red Emission

Infra-red radiation is emitted by all objects above absolute zero; however, the amount
emitted, and its wavelength distribution, depend on the body’s absolute temperature
T and its emissivity ε. Emissivity is the actual emission from the surface of a body,
compared with that from an identical perfect radiating source or ‘black body’, at the
same temperature. Consequently, a ‘black body’ will have a maximum emissivity value
of one, and a perfect insulator will have an emissivity value of zero. Many objects closely
resemble a ‘black body’ in their infra-red emission. For consideration of energy and the
relationship between radiated heat and temperature, it is important to use the correct
temperature scale. Although centigrade is quite appropriate for most purposes with
100 equal steps between the melting point of ice and the boiling point of water, a block
of ice at 0°C still has a considerable amount of energy. If all the energy within the block
of ice could be extracted, the temperature of the ice block would fall considerably.
Eventually when all the energy from an object has been extracted, the object will sit at
the bottom of the energy scale and correspondingly at the bottom of the temperature
scale. This ‘absolute zero’ of temperature is at −273°C approximately, and to convert
from degree Celsius to the Kelvin scale (in K and without the degree symbol!) it is
necessary to add 273, for example 10°C on the Kelvin scale will be 10 + 273 = 283 K.

There are three important properties of radiating bodies of which a ship’s target will
radiate significant amounts of heat:

1. The wavelength (λpeak) at which the peak of emission occurs can be expressed by a
relatively simple function of absolute temperature T, and is found using a formulae
known as Wien’s displacement law, named after the German physicist Wilhelm
Wien (1864–1928):

λpeak = _____ μm

For example, for a hot aircraft exhaust at 800 K, the peak wavelength of emission will
be found very close to 3.6 μm, whilst a person at room temperature (with a skin surface
temperature of about 27°C) will have a Kelvin temperature of about 300 K and a peak
wavelength of emission of 10 μm, right in the middle of the range of modern TICs used
in the FIR to detect missing persons and for surveillance.

This has a huge implication on the correct choice of sensor and infra-red band
to monitor. Physicists and engineers will often plot the intensity distribution of
Infra-red • 79

thermal radiation with wavelength to obtain a series of curves or ‘black body’


2. The radiated intensity I is given by the following equation:

I = εσT 4 Wm−2

where I is the power per unit area in Wm−2, ε is the emissivity, σ is the Stefan–Boltzmann
constant (5.67 × 10−8 W m−2 K−4) and T is the temperature in Kelvin (K = °C + 273), as
previously mentioned.

Note of caution: The Stefan–Boltzmann constant uses the same symbol as that already
encountered with RCS. They are, however, quite different quantities and should not be
confused. Different technical studies often use the same symbols for different quantities.

Consequently, we can establish both the peak emission wavelength and the target
intensity. However, in terms of contrast, a ship will be hard to detect if its thermal
intensity Iship is the same as the background sea intensity Isea.

Furthermore, if both the emissivity and temperature of a platform can be controlled,

this will have an implication on thermal maximum detection range.

3. Small changes in temperature will actually give rise to large changes in overall infra-
red emission. This can be demonstrated by considering the equation for intensity
given in Point 2 above.

If I = εσT4 Wm−2, then it is clear that the relationship between radiated intensity and
thermal temperature is reflected correctly in the following inequality:

I ⬀ T4

Consequently, IT ⬀ T 4.

Now if we increase the temperature of an object by 10%, the same inequality must hold
true for the new temperature, where I1.1T is proportional to (1.1T)4.

Now dividing one inequality by the other we arrive at the equation I1.1T /IT = (1.1T)4/T 4,
which can be rewritten as I1.1T /IT = (1.1)4/14 = 1.464.

Finally, rearranging, I1.1T = 1.464 IT . This means that a 10% increase in temperature will
result in a 46.4% increase in radiated intensity, which is a relatively large increase in
intensity for a relatively small increase in temperature!

Clearly the importance of infra-red stealth is never likely to be far from the stealth ship
designer’s mind and will always have to be taken into account.
80 • Stealth Warship

Chapter Reflections

1. Consider the contributions of heat on board a ship and how they could be
2. What are the consequences of incorporating IRCS reduction measures into the
warship design on the RCS of a stealth ship?
3. A Visby stealth corvette is visually camouflaged and moored next to the shore
in a fjord near Gothenburg. The thermal intensities of the corvette and the bank
vary significantly as a function of time. A reconnaissance aircraft fitted with a TIC
took infra-red photographs of the Visby and adjacent coastline at dusk (1,615
time t0) with the Visby clearly detectable against the coastline.
For the next few hours, the intensity variations of the corvette and the bank are
given by Ifjord = Ifjord (t0)e−λ1t for the fjord and Iship = Iship (t0)e−λ2t for the ship, where
Ifjord(t0) = 100 W m−2, λ1 = 1.1 hr−1, Iship(t0) = 230 W m−2 and λ2 = 4.2 hr−1.
Examination of photographs taken at a different time showed that the ship
could not be discerned from the fjord. Question: At what time will this occur
(nearest minute)?
4. During an Atlantic storm, a man has fallen overboard from a ship. He initially has
a surface temperature of 23°C. Find the following:
(a) His initial peak emission wavelength (two significant figures).
(b) The man’s total radiated intensity; his emissivity is 0.93 (one decimal place);
σ = 5.67 × 10−8 W m−2 K−4.
(c) After a period of time, the man’s intensity falls so that he is no longer
distinguishable against the sea (sea surface has an emissivity of 0.97 and a
surface temperature of 8°C). To what value has the man’s temperature fallen
(two decimal places)?
(d) What is the man’s new peak emission wavelength (two decimal places)?
5. By considering the contrast equation C = (a − b)/(a + b), where a is the target
intensity It and b is the background intensity Ib, respectively, find the value of Ib
for which there is no contrast.
Using differentiation, show the maximum contrast conditions, by differentiating
with respect to a and b separately.
Infra-red • 81

6. If I = εσT4 W m−2, using differentiation and small change approximation, what will

the change in radiated intensity be for a 0.1 K change at a temperature of 300 K
(two decimal places)?
7. What measures could be taken for a target such as a ship, as illustrated in
Question 3, to make it less visible against its fjord background in the FIR, and
what might be the possible consequences of these actions upon visible and
radar band detectability?
8. Thermodynamics shows us that if we heat an object it will generally expand,
and consequently both its volume and surface area will be expected to increase.
If radiated power  =  εσAT4  W  m−2, by how much would the area of a warship
platform have to change to compensate for a similar magnitude of positive
changing temperature? Is this a feasible stealth method?


1. Lavers, C, Franklin, Mr P, Franklin, Mrs P, Plowman, A, Sayers, G, Bol, J, Field, D, and Shepard,
SM (2008), ‘Recent applications of passive thermal imaging to evaluate wildlife parameters
remotely and a new active thermal technique for non-destructive testing of delicate
biological samples’, Proceedings of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society
Annual Meeting.
2. Michell, S (2011), ‘The Invisibility Cloak’, Rusi Defence Systems, autumn/winter, pp. 80–81.
3. Gebbie, HA, Harding, WR, Hilsum, C, Pryce, AW, and Roberts, V (1951), ‘Atmospheric
transmission in the 1 to 14 μm region’, Proceedings of the Royal Society (London) Series A,
206(1084): 87–107.
4. Morris, TA, Marciniak, MA, Wollenweber, GC and Turk, JA (2006), ‘Analysis of uncertainties in
infrared camera measurements of a turbofan engine in an altitude test cell’, Infrared Physics &
Technology, 48(2): 130–153.
Now my eyes are turned from the South to the North, and I want to lead one
more Expedition. This will be the last … to the North Pole.
Ernest Shackleton, 1874–1922

Magnetic Stealth

Another important detection risk for ships is the magnetic distortion they create in the
earth’s own magnetic field. Ships can be thought of as basically large metal objects
which concentrate the earth’s relatively weak magnetic field within them, creating
stronger distortions or magnetic anomalies which potentially have the ability to trigger
the release or detonation of magnetic mines. Warships are now able to reduce these
magnetic distortions to sufficiently low levels so that these magnetically triggered
mines cannot detect them, for example, by magnetising the ship’s hull in the opposite
direction to the earth’s magnetic field, cancelling out the effect. Reverse magnetisation
is normally achieved using hull-embedded electromagnets, but it is also possible to
design warships from non-magnetic materials such as glass-reinforced plastic (GRP),
vitally important for minehunters.

For several thousand years, it has been known that magnetite or lodestone if suspended
by a thread will come to a rest in a roughly north–south geographical direction and is
an example of a natural magnetic material used by both the Chinese and Scandinavian
Vikings for navigation purposes. It is also known that a piece of non-magnetic iron can
Magnetic Signature • 83

be converted into a magnet by stroking it in one direction repeatedly using an existing

magnet. Certain materials like iron and steel can be relatively easily magnetised
by moving them through the earth’s magnetic field, whilst other common metallic
materials, such as copper or aluminium, cannot be magnetised.

The region of space influenced by a magnet can be visualised by considering the

concept of the magnetic field. For example, if a bar magnet is covered by a sheet of
paper and iron filings then sprinkled onto paper, the iron filings will reveal lines that
can be traced from the magnet’s north pole to its south pole (Figure 5.1).

These ‘lines of force’ or ‘lines of flux’ show clearly the direction of the magnetic force at
that point. Several key findings can be made about these lines of flux.

1. Lines of flux never cross.

2. Lines of flux are always continuous.
3. Lines of flux will always take the shortest possible path.
4. Lines of flux which are parallel and in the same directions repel each other, for
example, when two magnets are brought together with north poles adjacent.

Quantitatively, if a unit area at right angles to the lines of flux is considered, practical
numerical definitions and terms can be made.

Lines of flux collectively can be said to constitute a magnetic flux (symbol Φ, from
the Greek letter ‘phi’) which passes through the area. ‘Flux density’ is the value of the
magnetic field at any point, and is obtained from the following expression:
Flux density = ____

Ÿ Figure 5.1 Magnetic field of bar magnet

84 • Stealth Warship



Ÿ Figure 5.2 Spreading lines of flux exiting a magnet

Figure 5.2 illustrates the lines of flux exiting a magnet and passing through an area of
1 m2 at 90° to the magnetic flux. The symbol for flux density is B and its unit is the tesla.
The tesla is named after Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), an ethnic Serb whose revolutionary
developments in the field of electromagnetism in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries formed the basis of alternating current, wireless communications
and radio. The following expression links flux, measured in weber, with the flux density,
measured in tesla.

Flux = flux density × area or Φ (Wb) = B (T) × A (m2)

For example, for a relatively strong magnetic field of 3 T across an area of 0.5 m2,

Flux Φ = 3 × 0.5 = 1.5 Wb

In magnetic materials, a magnetising force (H) will produce a flux density (B), the
magnitude of which depends upon the type of material in the magnetic circuit (e.g. air,
steel, soft iron etc.). In free space and most non-magnetic materials, the ratio between
H and B is a constant value, such that the ratio B/H for free space is as follows:

μ0 = 4π × 10−7 H m−1

For any material, the ratio of flux density to magnetising force is called the ‘absolute
permeability’ (μ) and is also measured in henries hy per metre (H m−1). Thus,
μ = __
However, the ‘relative permeability’ μR is important to note, and typical values can be
found in standard tables of constants [1]. This is the ratio of the flux density produced
Magnetic Signature • 85

in a magnetic material to the flux density which would be produced in air by the same
force, that is,
absolute permeability
Relative permeability = ______________________
permeability of free space
μR = __

Or rewritten as μ = μ0 μR

The result of this is that permeability differences in magnetic materials will tend
to concentrate any magnetic field lines present such that these field lines might be
described as ‘preferring’ to stay and be drawn into the magnetic media rather than in
any non-magnetic media. This is not so dissimilar to the way in which light ‘prefers’ to
travel within a high-refractive index media such as glass rather than propagate or travel
in a low-refractive index media such as air when it is incident above the critical angle.
This concentrating of the magnetic field lines can be described as a magnetic ‘lens’
whose concentrating ability is determined by the relative permeability of the material in
question. For example, for some materials such as iron, nickel and cobalt, this value can
be extremely large (ranging between 1,000 and 2,000). For some specially constructed
materials, the value of the relative permeability can be even higher, with two specialist
materials ‘nanoperm’ (a cobalt-based magnetic alloy 2714 A) and ‘metglas’ having
values of, respectively, 80,000 and 1,000,000! Interestingly, pure metals such as nickel,
cobalt and magnesium exhibit only very slight magnetic properties, but when alloyed
with iron very strong magnetic properties will result.

For example, compare the magnetic flux (in weber) produced by a given magnetising
force of 1,000 H in free space and the magnetic flux produced in a quantity of nanoperm
with relative permeability of 80,000 across an area of 2 m2.

In free space, B = μ0H = 4π × 10−7 × 1,000 = 4π × 10−4 T and, for the nanoperm,
B = μH = μ0μRH = 4π × 10−7 × 8 × 1,000 × 1 × 103 = 32π × 10−1 T.

So the flux (in weber) in the free space and nanoperm is given, respectively,
as Φ = 4π × 10−4 × 2 = 8π × 10−3 Wb and Φ = 32π × 10−1 × 2 = 64π × 10−1 Wb.

The consequence of this concentration of magnetic field lines is seen in the relationship
between moving conductors and the generation of an electric field. A metal ship
of iron can be considered to be composed of a series of conductors which cut the
earth’s magnetic field to induce an electric field in the assembly of conductors. These
current-carrying conductors not only can become magnetised themselves but also can
influence the region of space around them because of the magnetic field produced by
the same current-carrying wires.
86 • Stealth Warship

One solution to this problem is the practical engineering technique of degaussing or,
its more modern version, deperming. Degaussing provides a degree of protection from
magnetic mines, but the physical explanation is often the least understood of magnetic
reduction measures, although degaussing is often considered as simply a process of
decreasing or eliminating unwanted magnetic fields.

Degaussing Ships’ Hulls

With the introduction of iron ships, the effect of the ship’s metal hull on steering
compasses was noted very quickly. It was also observed that lightning strikes frequently
had an effect on compass deviation, which in some extreme cases could completely
reverse the ship’s magnetic signature. This phenomenon was first recorded in 1866
by a Mr Evan Hopkins of London, who registered a patent for a process ‘to depolarise
iron vessels and leave them thenceforth free from any compass-disturbing influence
whatever’. However, it was a relatively long period after this before degaussing was to
be applied practically to the problem of ship’s magnetisation.

Degaussing of a naval vessel’s hull was first demonstrated by Cmdr Charles Goodeve during
the Second World War whilst he was trying to counter German magnetic mines which were
proving a deadly threat to the British fleet. German scientists had succeeded in designing
very effective mines which could detect a small increase in local magnetic field when a
ship’s large steel hull, concentrating the earth’s ever-present magnetic field, was over it.
The earth can be considered as a relatively simple dipole magnetic with magnetic lines of
force running from north to south. Magnetic lines of forces at the earth’s surface have two
key components, a vertical component (Z) and a horizontal component (H), which is itself
divided into two components: a longitudinal component along the ship and an athwartship
component across the beam of the ship. The medium the field lines pass through, with its
specific permeability, will affect the field strength (the lines of force per unit area). Metal, for
example, is more permeable than water. So the field intensity increases in the ship, creating
anomalies or localised concentrations in the magnetic field around it, as illustrated with
visualised lines of force in Figure 5.3. In reality, the ship will have a composite permeability
of differing metal components and structures with a three-dimensional spatial distribution.

A further complication is that all ships are built within the earth’s magnetic field, and
so they will become permanently magnetised, at least partially. However, the level of
permanent magnetisation depends on the earth’s field where the ship was built, its
orientation when it was built and the construction materials used.
Magnetic Signature • 87

Ÿ Figure 5.3 Magnetic field lines concentrated in the steel of the ship © CR Lavers

The induced magnetic field from the ship’s magnetic materials when moving in the
earth’s magnetic field will depend upon the earth’s magnetic field strength and the
ship’s orientation. The components are ‘longitudinal’ (affected by latitude, heading and
pitch), ‘athwartship’ (affected by latitude, heading and roll) and ‘vertical’ (affected by
latitude, pitch and roll).

A somewhat complex method can be used to compensate for a ship’s magnetic fields
by winding high-current-carrying coils around the ships and then passing a direct
current (DC) through them. This DC can be used to create a field equal yet opposite
to the ship’s magnetic field, making the ship ‘magnetically invisible’. It should be noted
that this is not a trivial operation, and is not necessarily a complete success. Different
classes of ship, because of their different geometry and different construction materials,
will require very different degaussing arrangements. Nonetheless, the key differences
between these arrangements can be characterised in terms of what power supplies are
required and the control circuitry used.

Returning to our discussion of German mines, since the Germans at this time used the
Gauss as the unit of strength of the magnetic field in their mine triggering mechanisms
(there was not at this time a standardised measure of magnetic field), Goodeve decided
to refer to the various processes trialled to counter the mines as degaussing.

Let us take a little closer look at a simplistic layout of coil arrangements that could be
more effectively achieved by embedding them within the superstructure of a ship’s
platform itself (Figure 5.4).

Main coil (M) can be used to effectively compensate for the induced and permanent
vertical components of a ship’s magnetic field (the so-called Z zone). The main coil is
88 • Stealth Warship

M coil

F coil
Q coil

L coil

A coil

Ÿ Figure 5.4 Coil arrangements

usually installed in the horizontal plane at or close to the ship’s waterline – running
completely around the hull internally. As the ship changes hemispheres, the coil current
polarity must be reversed, for the same reason that a split ring is found in a DC motor,
where otherwise the two half rotations of a loop of wire will produce induced electric
fields of opposite polarity.

Forecastle permanent–quarterdeck permanent (FP-QP) coils will compensate for the

longitudinal permanent component of a ship’s magnetic field. The FP coil will encircle
approximately the forward third of a ship in the horizontal plane at the main deck. Similarly
the QP coil encircles the aft third of the ship in the horizontal plane at the quarterdeck.

Forecastle induced–quarterdeck induced (FI-QI) coils are located in the same general
vicinity as the FP-QP coils, but must compensate for the longitudinal induced component
of a ship’s magnetic field due to the ship’s motion. The FI-QI current is proportional to
the horizontal component of earth’s magnetic field along the ship’s longitudinal axis.
To be used usefully, a modern degaussing system should automatically compensate for
heading changes as they occur.
Magnetic Signature • 89

An athwartship (A) coil should be installed in the vertical plane and extend from the keel
to the main deck. It is designed to compensate for both the athwartship component
of magnetic field induced and the athwartship’s permanent component of the ship’s
magnetic field. The athwartship coil current consists of permanent and induced

The first method of degaussing involves installing electromagnetic coils into the ships,
and was termed ‘coiling’. British ships, notably our cruisers and battleships, were well
protected in this way by 1943.

However, installing such specialist equipment was still too expensive and difficult to
service all the ships that really needed it, so the navy developed an alternative called
‘wiping’, which entailed the dragging of a large electrical cable along the ship’s side
with a current of about 2,000 A flowing through it to induce the right field in it! – a
potentially dangerous proposition for engineers tasked with achieving this reduction
in field. It was initially thought that the pounding of the sea, especially during the
fierce winter storms of the North Atlantic, on the ship’s hull and the fields produced
by the ship’s engines might rapidly randomise this impressed correcting induced field.
Fortunately ship tests found this not to be a problem.

After the Second World War, magnetic fuses were improved, which now did not require
the mine to detect the absolute value of the magnetic field itself, but changes to it,
which improved the overall sensitivity of the mine considerably. This also meant that
a generally well-degaussed ship which still retained a small magnetic ‘hot spot’ could
trigger a mine. In addition, the precise orientation of the field could now be measured,
something a simple bias field could not remove, at least not for all points on a warship.
A series of increasingly complex coil arrangements was introduced to offset these
effects, with modern systems including no fewer than three separate sets of coils to
reduce fields in all axes.

Deperming is now viewed as a procedure for erasing the permanent magnetism from
ships and submarines, in order to ‘camouflage’ them from a magnetic point of view
against magnetic detection vessels and enemy marine mines. Sea-going, metal-hulled
ships will nonetheless develop a magnetic signature as they travel due to interaction
with earth’s magnetic field, and this signature can still be exploited by magnetic mines
or facilitate detection of a submarine by ships or aircraft with magnetic anomaly
detection (MAD) equipment. Navies use deperming procedures as a countermeasure
against this, and today specialised deperming facilities can perform the procedure.
Heavy gauge copper cables are first wrapped round the hull and superstructure of the
vessel, and after safety checks are made, very high electrical currents up to 4,000 A
(4 kA) are pulsed through the cables. This has the effect of ‘resetting’ the ship’s magnetic
90 • Stealth Warship

signature. The process is now sufficiently sophisticated that it is even possible to assign
a specific signature that is best suited to the particular area of the world the ship will
operate in, but this is not something that can easily be done operationally at sea. Over
time, the deperm will start to degrade and the deperming procedure must be repeated
periodically to maintain the desired effect.

When a ship is close to a magnetic mine or magnetic torpedo, the magnetic field of
a ship actuates the firing mechanism and will cause the mine or torpedo to explode.
Degaussing is thus quite reasonably viewed as a fitted electrical installation designed
to protect a ship against magnetic mines and torpedoes. So, in summary, the purpose
of degaussing is to counteract the ship’s magnetic field and establish a condition such
that the magnetic field near the ship is, as nearly as possible, the same as if the ship
were not there. Degaussing coils are simply large diameter electrical wires which when
carrying a large enough current are able to produce an electromagnetic field.

A ship made of ferromagnetic materials such as steel, which as explained earlier

concentrate lines of magnetic flux, will constrain them to follow a ‘preferred’ path to
the water surface. Consequently the local magnetic field of the earth, as stated, can
become quite distorted. Magnetic flux through a surface is proportional to the number
of magnetic field lines passing through the surface. This is the net number, that is, the
number passing through in one direction, minus the number passing through in the
other direction. Quantitatively, magnetic flux through a surface S is defined as the integral
of the magnetic field over the area of the surface, but this is best omitted in this volume.

As the ship moves, it will have a potential difference (p.d.) or voltage induced across
its hull plates and superstructure, with differing voltages over the entire ship due to
the non-uniformities in its original construction and/or subsequent modifications.
Variations in current flowing inside the ship will induce magnetic fields around it.
A metal ship conductor of width L with a velocity v that is in relative motion within a
perpendicular magnetic field of flux density B will have a voltage of magnitude V = BLv
induced across it, where B is measured in tesla (T), L in metres and v in metres per
second. A more precise form of the equation will also take into account the angle of the
field line to the velocity vector, and it is left to the reader to investigate and consider
the consequences of this.

This voltage or potential difference across the ends of the conductor will cause
a current to flow, which in turn produces an induced magnetic field (Figure 5.5). A
conductor which carries a current I has a decreasing radial magnetic field of flux
density B with increasing distance from the wire. Hence a current is applied which
creates a magnetic field in the opposite direction to that which has been induced by
this motion (Figure 5.6).
Magnetic Signature • 91

Ÿ Figure 5.5 Origin of induced voltage V © CR Lavers


Field pattern of straight wire

Ÿ Figure 5.6 Magnetic field around current-carrying wire © CR Lavers

As a final note to the discussion of magnetic signature, the US Navy was reported to
have recently tested a new prototype of its high-temperature superconductor (HTS)
degaussing coil system in 2009 which works by encircling the vessel with superconducting
ceramic cables whose purpose is to neutralise the ship’s magnetic signature, as was the
case with the copper-cabled systems. The main advantage of the HTS degaussing coil
system is reputedly to be its greatly reduced weight and increased efficiency.

There is, of course, a simpler solution than having to remove the permanent and
induced fields, and that is to avoid the use of ferromagnetic materials in modern ship
construction entirely. Insulating dielectric materials would provide the best solution,
92 • Stealth Warship

but generally these are not especially durable or affordable. Traditional wood and
laminated wood materials are very good at avoiding the magnetic field problem,
but they do not provide the required strength of a steel warship. Ship or platform
survivability is also an issue, and this rules out materials like simple plastics and glass.
However, composite GRP and laminate GRP can provide a surprisingly strong yet
lightweight option, particularly for mine-hunting and mine-laying vessels such as the
RN Sandown- and Hunt-class vessels, ships such as the US Avenger class (using various
hardwoods) and advanced sandwich composites on the Visby corvette.

GRP is a fibre polymer made of a plastic matrix reinforced with fine glass fibres which
importantly for magnetic marine mine operations does not become magnetised. GRP is
both lightweight and extremely strong. Although its strength properties are lower than
that of carbon fibre, GRP is less brittle, and the raw materials are much less expensive for
large-scale construction. Its bulk strength and weight properties are favourable when
compared to commonly used metals, and another key suitability factor is its ability to
be moulded into highly complex shapes. Fibres, almost entirely free of defects, can
reach gigapascal tensile strength levels.

If multiple glass fibres are arranged in a preferred direction, the GRP material will be
preferentially strong in that direction. By laying multiple layers of fibre on top of each
another, with each layer oriented differently, both the material’s stiffness and strength
properties can be controlled.

Fibre glass is typically of thin ‘shell’ construction, filled on the inside with structural
foam. Fibre glass is a versatile material, combining lightweight with inherent strength
to provide a weather-resistant material, ideal for maritime operations. Fibre was
first researched extensively in the 1930s for commercial aviation applications. Mass
production of glass strands was achieved in 1932 accidentally when a researcher at
Owens-Illinois directed compressed air at a stream of molten glass to produce fibres.
After combining with the Corning company in 1935, a reproducible method was found
to produce a patented ‘Fiberglas’. A resin for combining ‘Fiberglas’ with a plastic, needed
for achieving modern GRP fabrication, was developed in 1936 by the US company du

During the Second World War, GRP was developed as a replacement for moulded
plywood, which had been used in aircraft radomes up to this time. Fibreglass was
found to be transparent at microwave radar wavelengths and was readily adapted
for these applications. Its first main civil application was in the building of boats and
sports car bodies, where it gained widespread acceptance in the 1950s. GRP is often
also used in telecommunications to cover or shroud the visual appearance of ship’s
aerials and antennas (from both inclement weather and prying eyes) because of its
Magnetic Signature • 93

suitability at radio frequencies and its low signal attenuation properties. The relatively
recent introduction of frequency selective GRP has made possible the construction of
integrated ships’ masts, which are designed to be opaque to enemy radar transmissions
whilst being transparent at our own radar frequencies.

The low permeability properties of GRP combined with its low RCS make it a very
attractive construction material for vessels needing to operate in potentially mine-
infested waters. The Royal Navy used GRP extensively in its Sandown-class minehunters.
The first, HMS Sandown (Figure 5.7), was built by Vosper Thornycroft and launched in
1988 by the Duchess of Gloucester, as the first of 12 Sandown-class minehunters. HMS
Sandown was decommissioned relatively recently in January 2005, and handed over to
the Estonian Navy in April 2007, and renamed EML Admiral Cowan.

Another platform used by the Royal Navy is the RN Hunt class, composed of 13 mine
countermeasure vessels combining the role of traditional minesweeper and that of
an active minehunter into the same hull. Upon introduction in the early 1980s, these
were the largest warships ever built out of GRP, superseded now by the Visby stealth

Ÿ Figure 5.7 HMS Sandown-class minehunter

94 • Stealth Warship

corvette. All 13 were built by Vosper Thornycroft except HMS Cottesmore and Middleton,
which were built instead by Yarrow Shipbuilders Limited. HMS Quorn was the last ship
of the class to be launched. The capabilities of the current eight remaining Hunt-class
vessels have been upgraded by the installation of Sonar Type 2193 and the NAUTIS 3
command system. The performance of Sonar 2193 is believed to exceed that of any
other mine-hunting naval sonar in service worldwide and can both detect and classify
correctly a target or object the size of a football up to 1 km away.

Chapter Reflections

1. Try and rank the importance of the cross sections and signatures discussed in
this and earlier chapters, and consider the likely interactions between them.
2. What reasonable reduction measures can you suggest that are already used and
could be used in the future to make a warship stealthier than at present?
3. Consider a ship travelling in the Arctic Ocean with a magnetic field strength
of 63,000 nT (nanotesla) with an athwartships conducting width of 4 m and a
speed of 3 m s−1. What will be the value of the induced voltage that consequently
induces a magnetic field in the ship’s superstructure (three significant figures)?
(Note: V = BLv.)
4. For a magnetising force of 2 × 10−7 T and a relative permeability of 500, find
(a) the flux density B, (b) the flux across 2 m2 and (c) the induced voltage on
an athwartship coil of length 2 m and a speed of 4 m s−1 (in exact π terms).
5. Find the rate of change of voltage with speed as a function of H and L. If the rate
of change is 2 mV (m s)−1, for a relative permeability of 22.3 and a length of 3 m
what is the value of the magnetising force H (in terms of π)?


1. Kaye, GWC and Laby, TH (1973), Table of Physical and Chemical Constants and Some
Mathematical Functions. 14th ed. London: Longman.
The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.
Albert Einstein

Acoustic Noise

Blending a ship visually into its background and making modifications to both its radar
reflectivity and infra-red emissions are a clear benefit to ship stealth. Ships, however,
are also full of moving equipment generating significant acoustic noise, which can be
detected underwater if the sound is transmitted through the hull. Sound can travel
very long distances underwater so that ships can be located by submarines, torpedoes
or even a sonar dipped from a helicopter. But perhaps the greatest threat to a ship is
the silent running submarine menace coupled with the use of anti-sound technology
or ‘sonar’.

Sonar is an acronym for sound navigation and ranging, which is a well-developed

technique similar to above-water radar, but instead of transmitting electromagnetic
waves uses sound propagation underwater for roles such as navigation and mine
detection. There are two main types of sonar technology in common naval use today:
the so-called ‘passive’ sonar, essentially listening to sounds generated from surface
vessels and submarines, and ‘active’ sonar, which emits pulses of sound energy from
96 • Stealth Warship

a transducer and then listens for returning echoes. The time between transmission
and reception of an underwater echo enables a sonar operator to establish the range
of the underwater contact. Sonar is frequently used as a means of acoustic location,
and because of the typical broad frequency spread of a typical ship platform’s echo
characteristics, can even identify targets which are not possible from receipt of a
corresponding radar echo alone. It is interesting historically that acoustic location in
air was used long before radar, and was still in use relatively late in the Second World
War by the Japanese, whose huge ‘tuba-like’ apparatuses, each the size of a house,
were used to listen as early warning detectors for incoming US bomber aircraft. The
acoustic frequencies detected by modern sonar systems, however, are extremely
varied, ranging from very low frequencies below the range of human hearing (the
so-called ‘infrasonic frequencies’) up to extremely high frequencies above the range
of human hearing (or ultrasonic frequencies). It should be noted that the spectrum
of frequencies heard by the human ear in air is not the same as that detected under
water, for several reasons: differences in water absorption being the principal
reason and, second, for waves incident from above the waterline, due to change in
wave speed. The study of underwater sound is generally referred to as ‘underwater
acoustics’ or ‘hydroacoustics’, and is a key part of modern anti-submarine and anti-
ship-based warfare.

Although cetaceans such as whales and dolphins use sound for communication and
precise fish location in the world’s oceans, mankind’s entrance into this arena is only
relatively recent. The first verified measurement of sound underwater was in 1490 by
Leonardo da Vinci who used a tube inserted into water, and it was reputed he could
detect vessels in his vicinity by simply placing his ear to the tube [1].

Interest in radio, radar and the use of sound to ‘echo locate’ objects underwater seems
to have been given impetus after the Titanic disaster of 1912. The world’s first patent for
an underwater echo ranging device was registered by the English meteorologist Lewis
Richardson just a month after the Titanic sank [2], and a German physicist Alexander
Behm quickly followed suit with a patent for design of a prototype echo sounder in
1913. Early work in 1912 by Mr Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian engineer working for
the Submarine Signal Company in Boston, was noted by the British, who recognised the
potential naval benefits of this technology. In 1914, Fessenden demonstrated depth
sounding, underwater Morse communications and iceberg detection at a surprisingly
good 3 km range. Consequently by 1915 the newest Canadian-built Royal Naval H-class
submarines were equipped with Fessenden oscillators [3]. Despite their cramped size
and lack of deck guns, these H-class submarines were popular amongst submariners,
and saw action in British waters and the Adriatic, losing only four of their own in the
First World War combat.
The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 97

Meanwhile under the leadership of another Canadian physicist Robert William Boyle, a
prototype system for active sound detection was produced for trials in 1917. This work
took place under maximum security, and used quartz piezoelectric crystals to produce
the world’s first underwater active sound detection system. To maintain this secrecy,
no mention of sound experimentation or quartz was made – the word instead used to
describe this early work was ‘ASD’ics, hence the initial British use of the acronym ASDIC.

At the start of the Second World War, British ASDIC technology was made freely available
to the United States, as part of a pooling of collaborative research, a partnership which
also saw the development of the atomic bomb (with the help again of Canada) under
the Manhattan Project. Research on ASDIC and underwater sound was significantly
expanded by this cooperative act between the United Kingdom and the United States.
It is about this time, in the late 1930s, that the Americans began to use the now more
widely used term ‘sonar’ for the first time. Many new types of military sound detection
systems were consequently developed, which included sonobuoys, developed by the
British in 1944 under the codename ‘High Tea’, dipping sonar and, most importantly,
mine detection sonar. This work also formed the basis for most post-war developments
related to countering the Soviet nuclear submarine threat. In recent years, the main
military development has been the increasing interest in low-frequency active systems.

Various Environmental Factors

The underwater environment is generally a much messier and unpredictably changing

environment than the above-water environment, being at best a ‘foggy day’ under
most circumstances. Sonar detection, classification and location performance depend
unsurprisingly on this environment, as well as the receiver and transmitter subsystems
used, and for passive sonar, the critical target (ship or submarine’s) radiated noise.
Sonar operation is also affected by variations in sound speed, which travels more
slowly in fresh water (less dense) than in sea water (more dense). Speed is also
determined by the water’s Temperature, dissolved impurities (principally Salinity) and
Pressure (or STP).

Sonar prediction is difficult to achieve but as sound is still bent or refracted in accordance
with Snell’s law likely threat ranges for a given set of STP conditions can be made. If
conditions are right, propagation may occur in deep sound channels which provide
extremely low propagation loss to a sonar receiver within the channel, in a similar way
to radar ducts in the above-water environment. Sound propagation is also affected by
98 • Stealth Warship

water absorption loss, which depends critically upon frequency. Long-range sonar also
use low frequencies (large wavelengths) to minimise undesirable absorption effects.
The sea also contains many sources of noise that will interfere with the target echo or
signature, such as that generated by waves or snapping krill. It should be added here
that sonar, like radar, is a double-edged sword, a weapon used by both mariner and
submariner alike in a battle of wits for survival.

Active Sonar

Active sonar uses both a sound transmitter and a receiver and creates a series of
regular sound pulses, and in between them listens for reflected echoes (Figure 6.1).
Sound pulses are generated first at lower power levels electronically from a signal
generator, a power amplifier and an electro-acoustic transducer/array. A beam former
can concentrate the acoustic power into a tightly focused beam, which can be swept to
cover a chosen search angle and is similar, although a little simpler, to that found within
modern phased array radar.

To measure bearing, a hydrophone array can be used, and the system measures the
relative time of arrival delay at each hydrophone. An array reduces spatial response, or
angular response, so to provide wide cover multi-beam systems are used. Target signal,
together with noise and unwanted background clutter, will undergo signal processing
before operator display. Further processes may be used to classify the target and locate
it as well as to measure its velocity (Doppler effect). In a similar manner to radar, sonar
pulses may transmit at constant frequency or in a chirped pulse mode where a pulse


Transmitted wave Reflected wave

Ÿ Figure 6.1 Principle of active sonar © CR Lavers

The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 99

increases in frequency throughout its duration (a technique used in ultrasound by bats).

Simple sonar generally use the former with a filter sufficiently wide to cover possible
target movement Doppler changes, while more complex ones include the latter. As
digital processing has become more widely available, pulse compression is now more
common. Military sonar often use multiple beams to provide all-round coverage while
simple ones only cover a narrow arc, although a beam may be rotated, relatively slowly,
by mechanical scanning or quickly electronically via phased steering. Particularly when
single frequency transmission is used, the Doppler effect can measure a target’s radial
speed. The difference in frequency between the transmitted and received signal is
measured and is converted into a radial velocity vector.

For a modern warship, the importance of minimising emitted sound cannot be

underestimated. Any piece of machinery incorrectly mounted can provide telltale
signs of its presence to the watchful scrutiny of the practised sonar operator. In
combat situations, an active pulse can be detected by an opponent and might
crucially reveal a submarine’s position, and hence passive sonar will be generally
used instead.

Passive Sonar

Passive sonar listens without transmitting and is frequently employed by navies

worldwide. Passive sonar benefits are that as no pulses are transmitted there is no
direct risk of compromise to its stealth, be it a ship or submarine platform. However, a
lack of timed echoes means that no range, or range resolution information, is directly
available from the surrounding environment and other non-transmitting platforms and
objects will not necessary show up on the passive sonar display to the operator. This
is, of course, a similar problem for the radar operator who wants to establish a faithful
tactical picture of what is around him/her in the real environment. Key detection
aspects are built around the characteristic sound emitted by AC and DC transformers
and generators on board different platforms. Even intermittent sound sources (such
as a dropped tool) may be detectable with passive sonar. Passive sonar systems rely
heavily upon having large up-to-date sound databases, but the trained sonar operator
can usually classify the signals by ear.

For these reasons, many navies operate submarines fuelled by nuclear reactors that are
cooled without pumps, using convection instead to run silently. Vehicles’ propellers are
also designed and precisely machined to emit minimal noise. High-speed propellers
100 • Stealth Warship

often create tiny bubbles in the water, and this cavitation has a distinct sound, which
we will look at in a little more detail shortly. Sonar hydrophones may be towed behind
the ship or submarine in order to reduce the effect of noise generated by the vessel

Modern naval warfare makes extensive use of both passive and active sonar from
surface vessels and aircraft. The relative benefits of using active rather than passive
sonar technology depend on the radiated characteristics of the target. In the Second
World War, active sonar was used by surface vessels, whilst submarines avoided
transmission at almost any cost for fear of revealing their presence and location. The
genesis of modern signal-processing passive sonar is now greatly improved for initial
stealthy detection. Consequently submarines are now designed to be the quietest
vessels ever, with a revolution in propeller blade design, needed since the advent of
ever improved sonar systems, both passive and active.

Sonar Comparison

Active sonar gives the exact bearing, and the approximate range, to a target and is used
when a platform commander, surface or submarine, determines it is more important
to determine the position of a possible threat submarine than it is to conceal his own
position. However, the emitting sonar will likely be detected. Having registered the
signal, it is possible to identify the sonar equipment used (by its frequency and other
characteristics, for example, pulse duration) and its position. Active sonar is similar
to radar in that, while it allows detection of targets at a certain range, it enables the
emitter to be detected at a greater range, which is not desirable.

As active sonar reveals the presence and position of the operator, and does not
allow exact classification of targets, it is rarely used by submarines. When active
sonar is used by surface ships or submarines, it is typically activated intermittently to
minimise the detection risk. Active sonar, however, is routinely used with disposable
sonobuoys dropped in an aircraft’s patrol area or in the vicinity of possible enemy
sonar contacts.

In conclusion, passive sonar has many advantages; most importantly, it is silent. Since
any vessel makes some noise, the vessel may in principle be detected, depending on
the level of platform sound emitted and the ambient background noise level in the
area, as well as the technology used. A ship or submarine sonar also has a limited
The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 101

field of vision, which can influence detection. On a submarine, nose-mounted passive

sonar detects in arc range of about 270°, centred on the ship’s long axis, and for a hull-
mounted array of about 160° on each side of this (whilst a towed array drawn behind a
submarine platform can provide a full 360°).

Once a signal is detected in a certain direction with the so-called ‘broadband’ detection,
it is then possible to analyse any confirmed target with ‘narrowband’ analysis. As every
engine makes a specific set of sounds, it is straightforward to identify the target if
it is already in the database. Passive sonar is stealthy and very useful, but it is costly
and it is generally deployed on high-priority platforms (high-value assets) in the form
of sonar arrays to enhance detection. Although the focus of this volume is on ship’s
stealth, nonetheless it is difficult not to make mention of the complementary area of
anti-submarine warfare!

Until relatively recently, ship sonar was usually hull-mounted arrays, either amidships
or at the bows. To reduce water flow noise further, sonar began to be enclosed in metal
frames and then placed within reinforced plastic and rubber. Because of problems of
ship noise (self-noise), towed sonar are also used, which have the advantage of being
able to be placed deeper in the water, a good distance away from the platform itself.
However, there are limits on their use in shallow littoral (coastal) waters. Common
sonar arrangements include linear towed arrays or variable depth sonar (VDS) with
two- or three-dimensional arrays. One example of a modern active/passive ship towed
sonar is the Thales Sonar 2087. Sonar 2087 is a towed array sonar designed to replace
the older Sonar 2031 towed array. Sonar 2087 is described by its manufacturer as ‘a
towed-array system that enables Type 23 frigates to hunt the latest submarines at
considerable distances and locate them beyond the range at which they can launch
an attack’ [4]. Sonar 2087 is a low-frequency active sonar (LFAS) and consists of both
active and passive sonar arrays, manufactured by Thales in the United Kingdom and
France. Usually mine countermeasure (MCM) sonar are hull mounted, for example, one
example of a hull-mounted MCM sonar is the Type 2193.

The two main threats to ships from sonar-activated devices are torpedoes and
mines. Modern torpedoes are often fitted with active/passive sonar, which can home
directly on a target. To deal with these threats torpedo countermeasures are used,
which can be towed or moved independently. A modern system used is the UK Royal
Navy S2170 Surface Ship Torpedo Defence system. However, mines can also be fitted
with sonar able to detect, locate and recognise targets, making them a very potent
threat indeed. Even helicopters can be used in anti-submarine warfare by deploying
fields of active/passive sonobuoys or by operating dipping sonar, such as the AQS-13
(Figure 6.2).
102 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 6.2 AN/AQS-13 dipping sonar deployed from an H-3 Sea King
Note: A US Navy Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King helicopter from Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron 15
(HS-15) Red Lions lowers its AN/AQS-13 sonar. HS-15 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 6 (CVW-6)
aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CV-62) for a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea
from 28 June to 14 December 1979.

To summarise so far, sonar systems can either be passive and consist simply of an
acoustic detector, such as a hydrophone to pick up the noise generated by the ships
themselves, or they can be active systems that work in a manner analogous to radar.
Passive sonar was first used to detect submarines as early as 1916, and by 1918 both
the United States and Britain had built working active systems.


Propellers are by far the noisiest part of a ship because as the propeller blades spin
they create a region of partial vacuum at the trailing edges. Cavitation bubbles, which
first grow rapidly in size and then collapse equally quickly due to the surrounding
high-pressure water, form in lower pressure regions behind the blades. When bubbles
collapse, a great deal of energy is released in the form of acoustic shock waves, which
can even generate light through sonoluminescence. One way to reduce collapsing
cavitation bubble noise, reputedly used by the US Navy, is to inject low-pressure air into
The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 103

the partial vacuum behind the rotating blades, which reduces the pressure difference
between the bubbles and surrounding water so that the bubbles collapse more
slowly and more quietly. Sweden’s Visby stealth corvette avoids cavitation with water
jets instead of propellers. Electric propulsion acoustic insulation also helps to reduce
the overall amount of platform acoustic noise, which includes blade rate noise and
singing. It is no accident then that there is great emphasis placed upon propeller blade
design especially for hunter-killer nuclear-powered submarines to reduce the affects
of singing, blade rate noise and cavitation. Propulsor systems are now becoming more
widespread, having reduced cavitation at high speeds with all moving parts housed in
ducts, so very little sound is radiated directly into the marine environment with a more
laminar flow.

A great emphasis in the Visby is rightly placed on reducing its hydroacoustic

signature. Vibrations generated by engines, gearboxes and so on are transmitted
to the ship’s superstructure and critically for sonar detection to the hull and from
there to the surrounding water and together with the propulsion unit generates the
dominant features of the platform’s hydroacoustic signature. Consequently, the
technical design specification for a given platform will set certain noise limits
against frequency which must be achieved. Similar high technical specifications
will be set for other key ship’s parameters. Key areas of potential noise include the
low-speed diesel engine, high-speed gas turbine and the main reduction gearbox
of the Visby.

Future Acoustic Technology

However, one successful method to silence a noisy piece of machinery in the future
could be to simply drill holes in the casing that surrounds it. Workers in Spain noticed
a new effect – extraordinary acoustic screening (EAS) – while firing ultrasonic waves
at mm-thick metal plates underwater. When researchers drilled holes in the plates,
they found a significant drop in transmission at specific frequencies. For ultrasound
with a wavelength of 7 mm, a perforated plate reduced transmission by −10 dB more
than a solid plate of the same thickness. The plate thickness, its diameter, spacing and
hole arrangement all affect ultrasound transmission. Holes with the same spacing as
the wavelength of sound gave the greatest attenuation [5]. Workers in France have
also designed a metamaterial ‘cloak’ for water waves 10  cm across, with a shallow
cylindrical ‘metamaterial’ of 700 short posts that splay from the centre in seven
concentric rings.
104 • Stealth Warship

When waves approach the device, liquid enters the gaps and travels faster around
the rings than in the channels leading to the centre. This flow pattern forces liquid
approaching from one side to swirl around, leaving the central region dry [6]. In fact,
it has even been suggested that large-scale versions could deflect tsunamis around
coastlines and prove more effective than dykes.

In summary of acoustic and sonar topics covered here, the key sources of noise that
contribute to a warship’s acoustic signature include its own active sonar transmissions
and machinery noise. Sonar transmissions are minimised by reducing the time and
sonar power levels that are used with power equating to range. However, most of the
machinery-radiated noise is provided by contributions from a ship’s diesel engine
and gas turbines, which cannot readily be turned off. Anti-vibration ship engine
mountings will absorb a significant part of this mechanical coupling of sound energy
from the gearbox. In the case of a submarine, rubber or polyurethane tiles, which
look analogous to the heat-absorbing tiles coated on the outer skin of the space
shuttle (but actually have more in common with the radar anti-reflection coatings
discussed in Chapter 1), having broad and narrowband characteristics with multiple
layer coatings are tailored against hostile sonar on the deadly submarine menace of
the deep.


The night-time wakes of ocean-going ships are frequently observed from their
bioluminescent flow fields. Ship-wake bioluminescence is well known, and in
fact the last German U-boat detected in the First World War was sunk because it
created a flow field sufficient to generate a significant bioluminescent ‘footprint’,
and bioluminescence can give away submarine positions to a vigilant enemy. Pilots
have even followed luminescent trails over many miles to find their aircraft carriers
(including a lost and radarless Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell) [7, 8]. The bioluminescent
wake of a US aircraft carrier has been estimated to be greater than 6 km [9]. US Navy
SEALs are taught that there are certain beaches where bioluminescence is likely to
give them away, and Navy crew have even detected the luminous wakes of torpedoes.
Consequently bioluminescent flow-stimulated light emission is now considered a real
threat to current US Navy maritime stealth night-time operations. At the same time,
bioluminescence provides the ideal opportunity in biologically rich coastal waters to
detect an enemy in turn. Bioluminescent occurs dramatically in milky seas where huge
populations of bacteria give the ocean a peculiar glow [10]. Even waving a hand in a
The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 105

Ÿ Figure 6.3 Bioluminescent dinoflagellates producing light in breaking waves

river such as the River Dart in Devon on a dark mid-summer’s night whilst kayaking, in
my own experience, can produce bright ‘sparkles’ of light.

Marine bioluminescence is produced by a vast number of creatures, including bacteria,

dinoflagellates (single-celled algae), radiolarians (single-celled marine organisms), jellyfish,
hydrozoa, sea pens, sea pansies and comb jellies. Bioluminescence is especially abundant
in warm coastal regions where nutrients are abundant and life thrives (Figure 6.3).

On 19 January 1991, the MV Benavon was heading for Singapore in the South China Sea,
an area noted for its bioluminescent displays, when significant flashes of light were seen in
the bow wave and the ship’s wake, appearing to be both on the surface and slightly below,
which links very nicely to one of the last effects we will look at, which is the wake effect.

Wake Effects

A ship at the surface will generate a wake, which not only persists for a long time but is
also easy to see at high altitude and even on satellite imagery. In incompressible liquids
such as water, a bow wake will be created when a warship moves through the medium;
106 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 6.4 Boat sailing the Lyse fjord in Norway

Note: Picture taken from the Preikestolen.

as water cannot be compressed, it is displaced instead, resulting in a wave. The wake

spreads outward from the source until its energy is sufficiently dispersed (Figure 6.4).

Wake patterns observed around moving ships can be extremely complex. With
displacement-type hull surface vessels in deep water, far from shallow water and narrow
channels, a ship relies on the buoyancy principle for flotation only. All displacement
ships moving through surface water experience four types of motion resistance:
friction, wave making, eddying and air resistance. The first two of which are always
visible when a ship is moving.

If sea water were a perfect fluid with zero viscosity and hulls perfectly smooth, there
would be no frictional resistance. Water would flow smoothly over the hull. However,
water has a finite viscosity, and no hull is exactly smooth. Consequently a hull will ‘drag’
a water layer next to it, a so-called ‘boundary layer’. Second, if there are sudden changes
in design (e.g. a transom stern) eddying can occur. Boundary layers grow in width from
zero at the bows to a finite width at the stern. As a first approximation, the boundary
layer grows in width in proportion to its length along the hull from the bows, that is, the
wake amidships is half that typically at the stern. The width of the boundary layer at the
stern is reliably estimated to vary anywhere from 5 ft for a small vessel up to 30 ft or so
for a large vessel like an aircraft carrier. The width and intensity of the boundary layer
also depend on the vessel speed and size.
The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 107

Any object moving through surface water will create a disturbance which is observed as a
visible wave pattern. The pattern is ‘fixed’ or dragged along by the ship like a garment and
at high speed is the dominant part of resistance. The pattern consists of two types of waves:
‘divergent’ waves, which start at the bows and stern, and angle aft (wave crests curve and
are not straight), and ‘transverse’ waves, which originally start out perpendicular to a ship’s
line of motion, but the further away from the ship they are, the more they curve aft.

Based upon careful observation from countless marine observers, it is noted that at the
bows water is forced higher up the ship’s side than when further from the hull. This causes
the divergent bows wave to be the first to break. The bows wave rises above the at-rest
waterline, reaching a peak of about 35–45 ft aft of the stern. Amidships the transverse wave
is perhaps a couple of feet below the at-rest waterline, building up to a height of several
feet above the at-rest waterline some 34–45 ft forward of the stern. When a divergent wave
grows enough in height it breaks, like breaking beach waves. Once waves break, white
foam appears in bands parallel to the ship’s side. Foam may extend over 70–80 ft from the
sides and persist for several ship’s lengths behind the ship. The presence of the bows wave
has been exploited since the First World War by painting false bows waves onto ships to
confuse U-boat submarine commanders as to the speed and direction of a vessel.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have studied ship wakes for the US Navy, as
wake bubbles are a significant problem which can persist for up to a kilometre behind
military vessels. Radar systems now mounted on satellites are sufficiently sensitive
to detect ship wakes. According to Internet sources, the US Navy recently patented a
technique that may make ships harder to find by eradicating the bubbles as soon as they
appear. As a ship pushes its way through the sea, pockets of air get trapped in the water
flowing round it. These bubbles are caught in strong counter-rotating currents created
by the propellers. Big bubbles stay in the wake for only a short time because they are
more buoyant, but smaller ones can be caught in the wake for a long time, and it is these
small bubbles that make ship wakes easy to spot from the air as they scatter visible light
well. In a test to remove bubbles, several transducers injected 1 MHz acoustic waves into
water. Waves were produced which interfered with one another, producing a 3D grid of
high- and low-pressure pockets. It was found that small bubbles, 0.2 mm across, drifted
into low-pressure regions where they then formed bigger bubbles, 1.5 mm across, now
with sufficient buoyancy to float to the surface [11]. However, active production of
1 MHz acoustic waves into water is probably not a practical stealthy solution.

There have also been a number of concerns raised in recent years about the possibilities
that high-power naval sonar transducers may either directly or indirectly be responsible
for the mass deaths of dolphins and other cetaceans in shallow waters. Loud noises
created by sonar may frighten dolphins into shallow waters from which they are later
108 • Stealth Warship

unable to escape. It is also possible that sonar may cause them to surface too quickly
while diving, leading to decompression sickness. Certainly it is well known that the
loudest military sonar can reach a level of 235  dB, and anything in the above-water
environment over 100  dB is documented as being harmful to human hearing. One
particular incident in June 2008 was the death of 26 common dolphins stranded in the
narrow creaks of the Fal and Helford estuaries, whilst ships of the Dutch, British and
German fleets were conducting exercise 50 miles further south, with helicopter carrying
powerful mid-frequency sonar of a type previously linked in the media with the deaths
of marine mammals, although no clear evidence was provided. Precautionary enforced
measures for acoustic emission control in established dolphin and diving areas are
therefore sensible, until this controversy is finally resolved.

Extremely Low-Frequency (ELF)


Galvanic currents flowing in the hull and in the water around the hull can generate
underwater electrical potentials. Under certain conditions, these can cause ELF
electrical fields to be radiated into the water. Detection of the ELF signature can be
prevented by certain basic electrical design measures. Recent research combining
ELF electrical signals recorded along with those of hydroacoustic detection is even
now producing a greater level of sophistication in target detection and identification
than ever before [12]. In this work, classification using data-fusion on real underwater
signatures from surface ships enabled discrimination between small and big ships
based on features extracted from ELF electric (ELFE) and hydroacoustic signatures.
A data set was recorded and analysed in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden for
23 passages of surface ships of various size, divided into small (up to 21,484) and big
(above 21,484) tons displacement.

Likely Future Cross Sections

In the future, further exploitation of the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum is anticipated for
advanced forms of airborne missile detection and possibly surface combatant detection
as well. Although terahertz (1012  Hz) active imaging is becoming well established in
The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 109

airport baggage screening (alongside X-ray methods), as well as for medical and
dentistry applications, it is wrong to think of it as a panacea for all imaging issues and
is an unlikely candidate for maritime operations, except perhaps for extremely short-
range, above-water terminal guidance imaging. It would be unable to penetrate the
metal hulls of most platforms to provide any internal structural details. Terrestrial and
sub-surface very low frequency (VLF) imaging, however, has been conducted from
exotic ionospheric stimulated microwave transmissions in the Arctic and has been
able to successfully image underground mine workings in Alaska, but this is on a larger
scale than examination of internal ship’s compartments combined with the difficulty
of producing intense ELF waves without exciting the earth’s ionospheric ring current!
However, this may provide avenues of research for maritime sensing as well.

Platforms may incorporate more natural or synthetic materials, such as multiple

wavelength coatings that are becoming increasingly necessary, notably of visible, infra-
red and microwave wavelengths, stretching the ingenuity of the coating engineers to
the limit to provide a near optimum response across all threat wavelengths. Active
RAM would be an attractive possibility for the future or a surface skin which could
act as a large area ‘living ear’ to listen for long-range search radar pulse characteristics
and then reradiate low amplitude but out-of-phase pulses to cancel the enemy radar
echoes. Such an outer ‘skin’ would be able to respond, ‘chameleon-like’, to changes in
local environment. Future technologists may also utilise the abundance of water in the
maritime environment for numerous activities, such as directed ‘walls of water’ for close-
range missile defence (as discussed earlier), mist-sprays to defeat the electro-optics of
future sophisticated guided missiles, or to provide ‘ice packs’ on Arctic patrol vessels to
insulate heat from external thermal imagery detection. Of all these sensing methods
under development, it is likely that satellite tracking of ships in visible, near infra-red,
radar and thermal bands will become more commonplace over the next decade, driven
in part in the first instance by market forces associated with anti-piracy policing in the
troublesome Gulf waters off Somalia and Yemen, and the South China Seas.

Biologically Inspired Design

Biologically inspired design involves using biological principles to solve engineering

design problems, such as replicating the lotus petal’s extreme water-repellence (or
superhydrophobicity), and is ideal for washing pathogens/chemicals off warship
surfaces. Super hydrophobic surfaces have contact angles greater than 150°, showing
110 • Stealth Warship

almost no contact between the liquid drop and the surface and is often referred to as
the ‘lotus effect’ (Figure 6.5).

Modelling dolphin skin may allow scientists to copy their drag-reducing ability
to enhance warship performance whilst minimising acoustic signature, achieving
potentially greater endurance and range. In the future, intelligent optical fibre
surfaces, borrowed from advances in aviation, may warn of cracks and use liquid
crystal to ‘self-heal’, mimicking blood clotting from vascular networks. For example,
in nature, liquid crystalline ‘drag-line’ silk will convert from liquid to solid as it is
squeezed down a spider’s spinning ducts, so a similar super strength ‘glue’ could
potentially repair damage in ship coatings, turbines and rotary composite blades
even as problems begin to arise. From a materials viewpoint, future ship stealth is
very exciting, with metamaterials and composites, and the challenge of embedding
sensory ‘nerve-like’ networks and ‘healing’ networks via optical fibres into a platform’s
skin. Future use is likely to be made of carbon nanotubes in fabrication for their
considerable strength, and have even been proposed to design a space elevator
cable [13], first suggested, as were satellite communications, by science fiction
writer Arthur C Clarke.

High-power underwater lasers are likely to increase in prominence in combating future

torpedo terminal homing phase design, and could provide a long-range standoff
destruction capability in the underwater environment comparable to Raytheon’s

Ÿ Figure 6.5 Water droplet on Lotus leaf

The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 111

prototype solid-state laser area defence system (LADS), which ‘successfully detonated
60-mm mortars at ranges greater than 550 yards’ in 2007 above water.

Advanced chemical sensing systems, mounted on high-altitude aircraft, satellite and

unmanned aerial vehicles, may also allow the telltale chemical emissions of platforms,
nuclear isotopes and Cherenkov radiation (especially from surfaced or near surface
‘leaky’ submarines) to be detected at considerable altitude. Recent research has shown
that ship tracks may be detected by the use of ATSR-2 satellite imagery as ships modify
cloud microphysics by adding cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) to a developing
or any existing cloud. These create lines of larger reflectance in cloud fields that are
observed in satellite imagery. In this way, ships are frequently seen off the West Coast
of California, the Atlantic coast of West Africa and South West Europe [14], through
cloud area amplification, making it easier in one sense to see a ship from its trails than
with the use of high-resolution satellite imagery to achieve ship detection, which still
requires detailed image analysis to find vessels hidden in a vast ocean.

Emissions Control Policy

Clearly with so many possible different types of sensor emission from a platform, be
they active signatures or passive cross sections, we would be wise to consider the
impact of communications equipment used onboard and the overall coordination of
all of the ship’s sensors and communications to have an Emissions Control Policy in
place at all times with various enforced states to ensure that all emissions are kept to
as low a level as strictly necessary for the conditions and operations. A ship’s stealth
should not be compromised by operator error.

Overall electronic stealth design has become increasingly sophisticated, encompassing

many cross sections and signatures. The ongoing conflict between offensive and
defensive capability will continue this trend, requiring the design of further stealthier
platforms. The ideal of a warship which cannot be detected is unlikely to be achieved
across all energy bands simultaneously, but it is less likely to be detected if signatures are
minimised and increases the probability that decoys and electronic countermeasures
will be more effective against enemy threats. In most cases, this ‘husbandry’ of
emissions is simple, comprising easily applied safety issues which can readily counter
any unwitting ‘ignorance’, such as the use of a mobile phone on the quarterdeck at a
time of rising tension. However, sophisticated electronic systems are quite capable of
generating fake or pre-recorded radio emissions to saturate the airwaves and saturate
an enemy’s ability to handle the communications traffic.
112 • Stealth Warship

Chapter Reflections

1 Consider the benefits of an electromagnetic final terminal phase for a

hypothetical underwater threat.
2 What laser wavelengths might be the best suited to such a threat as that suggested
in Point 1 and also for design of appropriate laser-based countermeasures?


1. Fahy, F (1998), Fundamentals of Noise and Vibration. Frank Fahy and John Gerard Walker
(eds). Taylor & Francis, Oxford, UK. pp. 375. ISBN 0419241809.
2. Hill, MN (1962), Physical Oceanography. Allan R. Robinson (ed.). Harvard University Press ,
Harvard, USA. pp. 498.
3. Seitz, F (1999), The Cosmic Inventor: Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (1866–1932), vol. 89.
American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, USA. pp. 41–46. ISBN 087169896X.
4. http://www2.thalesgroup.com/blogs/farnborough2010/files/2010/07/HMS-Sutherlands-
Sonar-Impresses-on-First-Major-Test.pdf (accessed 22 May 2012).
5. Estrada, H, Candelas, P, Uris, A, Belmar, F, Garcıa de Abajo, FJ and Meseguer, F (2008),
‘Extraordinary sound screening in perforated plates’, Physical Review Letters, 101(8): 084302.
6. Farhat, M, Enoch, S, Guenneau, S and Movchan, AB (2008), ‘Broadband cylindrical acoustic
cloak for linear surface waves in a fluid’, Physical Review Letters, 101(13): 134501.
7. Bityukov, EP (1971), ‘Bioluminescence in the wake of a ship in the Atlantic Ocean and
Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea’, Okeanologiya, 11(11): 127–133.
8. Hastings, JW (1993), ‘Dinoflagellates: Cell biochemistry and its regulation of the
millisecond and 24-hour time scale’, Naval Research Reviews – Bioluminescence in the Sea,
XLV(2): 21–30.
9. Rohr, J, Hyman, M, Fallon, S and Latz, MI (2002), ‘Bioluminescence flow visualization in
the ocean: An initial strategy based on laboratory experiments’, Deep-Sea Research, Part I:
Oceanographic Research Papers, 49(11): 2009–2033.
10. Miller, SD, Haddock, HD, Elvidge, CD and Lee, TF (2006), ‘Twenty thousand leagues over
the seas: The first satellite perspective on bioluminescent “milky seas”’, International
Journal of Remote Sensing, 27(23–24): 5131–5143.
11. http://www.marinetalk.com/articles-marine-companies/art/Removing-a-Ships-Wake-
The Acoustic Threat and Other Signatures • 113

12. Lennartsson, RK, Dalberg, E, Levonen, MJ, Lindgren, D and Persson, L (2007), Fused
Classification of Surface Ships Based on Hydroacoustic and Electromagnetic Signatures.
OCEANS 2006 – Asia Pacific, ISBN:978-1-4244-0138-3.
13. Pugno, NM (2006), ‘On the strength of the carbon nanotube-based space elevator cable:
From nanomechanics to megamechanics’, Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, 18(33):
14. Campmany, E, Grainger, RG and Dean, SM (2008), ‘Detection of ship tracks in ATSR2
satellite imagery’, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion, 8(4): 14819–14839.
To see and yet be unseen, this is the very heart of stealth.
Chris Lavers

This chapter will look at the current generation of warships and marine vessels as well
as the latest prototypes. I will leave future ideas and developments for the reader in
the next chapter. Amongst the vessels to be covered here are the Swedish Visby stealth
corvette, the UK Type 45 Destroyer and its French and Italian variants, the French La
Fayette-class frigate, and the US M80 Stiletto. Of course, by the very nature of stealth,
there may be platforms under development that are not mentioned here, simply
because we do not know about them yet!


The Visby stealth corvette is named after Visby in Gotland County, Sweden (Figure 7.1).
It is probably the best preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and a World Heritage
Site. The name ‘Visby’ comes from the Old Norse Vis, meaning ‘sacrificial place’, and by,
meaning ‘city’.

The Swedish Navy’s Visby-class corvettes are claimed to be the first operational naval
vessels in the world to use fully developed stealth technology to minimise all the
Modern Stealth Ships • 115

Ÿ Figure 7.1 Visby stealth corvette © Kockums

obvious signatures discussed in earlier chapters: optical and infra-red, above-water

acoustic and underwater acoustic signature, electrical potential, magnetic signature,
pressure signatures, RCS and other emitted signals. In order to achieve optimum stealth
properties, virtually every part of the vessel was examined, evaluated and adapted to
minimise each signature.

RCS analysis now uses very advanced prediction tools. As an example of work done
to achieve an extremely low RCS, the design process includes the following: shaping,
that is, the otherwise flat hull sides are inclined upward and flat superstructure and
mast surfaces arranged into truncated pyramids. A sandwich surface layered structure
is constructed of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) for both good surface
conductivity and necessary flatness, but without the ‘starved horse-rib pattern’ often
associated with steel and aluminium plating fixed onto a supporting framework. The
ability to conceal the installation of weapons, sensors, sonars, cranes, boats and so on
and to ensure that all external doors and hatches are of ‘smart’ design is of paramount
importance. Stealth adaptation and platform integration are given close attention for
all above-deck equipment, especially with flush-mounted or miniature retractable
antennas so no antennas stick out proud of the superstructure. Frequency selective
surfaces (FSS) also cover some antennas which only allow a radar’s own frequencies
to pass through, thus protecting the ship against probing radar systems which might
otherwise even be identified from reflections from its own radar! There is also extensive
116 • Stealth Warship

use of radar absorbent materials and absorbing epoxy where needed, with special
attention given to the design of all the external features, for example, air intakes and
outlets, windows and so on.

Gas turbine exhausts are concealed in hidden outlets near to the stern water surface
to minimise the thermal visibility of emitted heat rather than from upright traditional
funnels (Figure 7.2). The heat is mixed up into the spray generated by the stern water
jets and is dissipated much more quickly. The CFRP hull is fully non-magnetic and so
has a small magnetic signature, as is the RCS.

The Visby’s builders admit that the Visby costs about 50% more than a conventionally
built corvette of the same dimensions, but it has the military advantage of stealth,
and the price difference is anticipated to be recouped over a 30-year projected active
service through lower projected maintenance costs of the composite hull. However,
predicting maintenance costs, especially with a newly designed platform, is not
necessarily an accurate task. Whilst the Visby could be regarded as an extreme case of
building entirely for stealth features, nonetheless stealth features are now considered
amongst the key requirements around which a naval vessel should be designed and
built (Figure 7.3).

The Visby class was built for the Swedish Navy by Kockums [1], and its littoral sea
trials lasted nearly 4 years. Sweden has a considerable border security requirement to

Ÿ Figure 7.2 Visby © Kockums

Modern Stealth Ships • 117

Ÿ Figure 7.3 Stealth corvette under construction © Kockums

monitor and defend a coast that stretches for over 2,700 km. Against the background
of post-Soviet threats, and in a new millennium of unexpected global terror threats,
the Visby is the first vessel to be fully developed around stealth technology from
conception. Such stealth design will increase its probability of conflict survival under
all these engagement scenarios. The Visby culminates a decade’s research starting with
HMS Smyge in 1991. The Visby, like the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyer, is designed to
minimise all the signatures mentioned but obtains the greatest benefit of signature
reduction from its being a much smaller platform (650 t vs 7,000 t compared with the
Type 45 Destroyer).

The Visby’s hull is designed with large flat-angle surfaces constructed for in-shore
operating conditions (Figure 7.4), whereas the Type 45 Destroyer incorporates a
more facetted appearance and uses glass-reinforced epoxy (GRE), more suited to
ocean maritime naval operations – although the Visby is not unacquainted with such
requirements (Figure 7.5). Steel is abandoned in favour of composite hull construction,
using a PVC core sandwich with carbon-fibre-laminated composites with good strength
and durability, low weight, low magnetic signature and at relatively low cost.

As of 2012, there are five Visby-class ships, from the first HMS Visby to the most recent
HMS Karlstaad, although a sixth ship was originally intended. Overall ship magnetic
signature is low; its hull is non-magnetic and uses composites lighter than conventional
118 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 7.4 Picture of HMS Helsingbord in the Mediterranean © Kockums

Ÿ Figure 7.5 Visby at full speed © Kockums

steel, increasing both speed and endurance over ordinary vessels, and making it almost
invisible to detection. Racing yachts and patrol boats have been manufactured from
carbon composite materials for many years, but the Visby is the largest ship to date
Modern Stealth Ships • 119

made from carbon fibre. According to Rear Admiral Andes Grenstad, Inspector General
of the Royal Swedish Navy,

In the Swedish Navy’s operational environment, namely the littoral zone, the
stealth technology Visby-class corvettes are the right concept for the future.
After final delivery and commissioning, these vessels will form the core of the
Swedish Navy for years to come. And our stealth concept has already attracted
considerable international attention.

Such is the degree of stealth reduction achieved by the Visby class that there are reports
of notices to mariners being issued to avoid possible collision with stealth ships in the

United Kingdom
Type 23 Frigate

On account of the lessons learned in the Falklands Conflict, the Type 23 frigate
(Figure 7.6) design grew in complexity to encompass a medium-calibre gun for
naval gunfire support and the vertical launch seawolf (VLS) system as a defence

Ÿ Figure 7.6 Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset, July 2006 © CR Lavers

120 • Stealth Warship

against low-flying aircraft and sea-skimming, anti-ship missiles such as Exocet,

which were used to devastating effect in the Falklands. With the addition of
Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles, the Type 23 became a complex warship which
introduced new technologies and concepts to the Royal Navy. These included its
first serious RCS reduction measures, increased automation to reduce crew size,
a combined diesel-electric and gas (CODLAG) propulsion system providing quiet
running for anti-submarine operations with increased endurance, a fully distributed
Combat Management System (CMS) providing essential built-in redundancy, and
a VLS missile technology. The VLS missile is boosted vertically until it first clears
the ship’s superstructure and then turns to fly directly to engage the target. This
launch procedure ensures that there are no no-fire zones that would delay or inhibit
missile firing caused by the layout of the ship’s structure. HMS Norfolk was the first
of the class to enter service, commissioned into the British Fleet in June 1990 at a
then cost of £136 million. In 2005, it was announced that three vessels, including
HMS Norfolk, would be sold to the Chilean Navy. Norfolk was commissioned into
the Chilean Navy on the 22 November 2006 and named Almirante Cochrane (FF-05)
after Lord Cochrane, a naval hero to both British and Chileans, and of Irish descent.
The 4.5 in. gun clearly shows the addition of faceting in order to reduce the RCS of
the gun (Figure 7.7), which itself otherwise would return a significant amount of
radar energy.

Ÿ Figure 7.7 Facetted 4.5 in. gun © CR Lavers

Modern Stealth Ships • 121

Type 45 Destroyer

The Type 45 Destroyer (also known as the Daring class) is the latest state-of-the-art air
defence destroyer programme of the Royal Navy. The Type 45 Destroyer was the first
major project undertaken by the United Kingdom’s new Smart Procurement strategy,
a strategy initiated by the then Defence Secretary in 1997. The process evaluated what
combination of capabilities for a new ship were affordable and within budget and
most importantly, for ‘big’ military projects, to be delivered on time [2]. I will comment
a little further about this aspect later on. In July 2000, expenditure of £5 billion (5,000
million) was approved to procure six Type 45 Destroyers, to replace the ageing Type 42
Destroyers in service at that time. The Type 42 has been in operation since 1978 and
needed a significant step-up in capability. The original proposal required 12 Type 45
platforms, but in July 2004 the UK Ministry of Defence announced that this would
be reduced to 8, and then reduced to 6 in June 2008. An engineering development
and production contract was placed with British Aerospace (BAE) Systems Marine
and VT Shipbuilding in Portsmouth to build the bow sections, masts and funnel, with
production of the first of class HMS Daring (D32) begun on March 2003. First sea trials
began in July–August 2007 with five further weeks of second-stage sea trials taking
place in 2008 focusing on weapons systems, radar and endurance. The vessel finally
completed contractor’s trials in September 2008, and Daring was formerly handed over
to the UK Ministry of Defence in December 2008, arriving in Portsmouth in January 2009
with commissioning in July 2009. The Type 45’s primary function is to provide an anti-air
warfare (AAW) role but also to engage more hostile aircraft or missiles simultaneously
than ever before. At the same time, the principal anti-air missile system (PAAMS) allows
the crew to operate in more hostile warfare environments than previously [3].

The first three ships were all assembled by BAE Systems Surface Fleet from partially
prefabricated ‘blocks’ whose main sections were built at Scotstoun, Scotland. The Type 45
Destroyer utilises the Sampson (Type 1045) active phased array radar (APAR) in its
PAAMS. Daring also incorporates the S1850M (Type 1046) long-range surveillance
radar behind the integrated main mast. After Daring’s launch on 1st February 2006,
former First Sea Lord, and veteran of the Falkland Islands conflict, Admiral Sir Alan West,
stated it would be the Royal Navy’s most capable destroyer ever as well as the world’s
best air defence ship. Daring also represents the largest escort type ever built for the
Royal Navy.

The Type 45 is also the first of all electric frontline warships in the world. Power
generation and propulsion systems are integrated along the lines of a power station,
with electrical power being provided to both the ship and its 20 MW propulsion motors
through an integrated high-voltage system. The WR21 complex cycle gas turbine
122 • Stealth Warship

Type 45 integrated electric propulsion

High-voltage power generation and propulsion (4.16kv)

WR21 WR21


Frequency Frequency
converter converter
Ship’s services Ship’s services
440V 440V
115V 115V
20MW 20MW
motor motor

Ÿ Figure 7.8 The power distribution system of a Type 45 Destroyer

is hoped to deliver greater operational flexibility and lower maintenance costs than
previous naval platforms. The Type 45 is also the first ship to utilise advanced induction
motors (Figure 7.8).

HMS Daring (Figure 7.9) was launched by BAE Systems at Yarrow’s Scotstoun shipyard.
The BAE is the largest defence contractor in Europe, formed by recent merger of two
British companies, Marconi Electronic Systems (MES) and British Aerospace (BAE). The
BAE Systems is involved in several other major defence projects, including the F-35
Lightning II, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers,
which will be the largest platforms of the twenty-first-century Royal Navy dwarfing
even the Type 45 (at a staggering 65,000 t).

The Type 45 Destroyer (Figure 7.10) represents the latest generation of the Royal Navy’s
development of stealth, building upon previous success with the Type 23 frigate, itself
a revolutionary design after lessons learned from the Type 42 Destroyer’s performance
in the complex littoral environment of the Falkland Islands conflict in the early 1980s
(Figure 7.11).

Daring is the most powerful UK-built destroyer to date, with the vital PAAMS system
designed to allow equipped vessels to protect themselves and any escorted vessels
Modern Stealth Ships • 123

Ÿ Figure 7.9 Destroyer HMS Daring at Scotstoun dockyard on 1st February 2006

Ÿ Figure 7.10 HMS Daring passing Cloch Pt © John Crae

against all missile and anticipated aircraft threats. PAAMS is also capable of operating
close inshore to provide air defence for ground forces, for example, those involved with
amphibious landings (Figure 7.12).
124 • Stealth Warship

Ÿ Figure 7.11 HMS Daring passing Cloch Pt with Dunoon providing the backdrop, July 2008
© John Crae

Ÿ Figure 7.12 HMS Daring arriving at the TOB anchorage for transfer operations for sea trials,
April 2008 © John Crae
Modern Stealth Ships • 125

PAAMS provides a paradigm shift in capability over other current systems; for example,
the Type 42’s Sea Dart system is relatively vulnerable to saturation at low level, whilst
PAAMS Aster missiles were designed from conception to be able to intercept multiple
sea-skimming missiles from its Sylver launcher, and has the capability to launch eight
missiles within 10 s. PAAMS was originally intended to be deployed in the Common New
Generation Frigate (CNGF) for the partner nations: Britain, France and Italy. However,
differences in design requirements led to the United Kingdom leaving the then Horizon
frigate project in 1999 to pursue its own national interests and warship design to create
the Type 45 Destroyer.

PAAMS Components

PAAMS (S) is composed of several critical parts: its Sampson multifunctional radar (MFR),
automatic command and control system (C2), its Windows 2000 operating system
and a Sylver vertical missile launcher containing assorted Aster missiles (Aster 15 for
short-range intercept and Aster 30 for medium to long range). The Aster 15 missile
is a short- to medium-range, surface-to-air missile providing ship point defence and
local defence, whilst the Aster 30 provides a longer range anti-aircraft and anti-missile
capability with a range of over 70 nm designed to provide area defence. The missile
system is now termed the Sea Viper, and the programme is expected to produce six
warships at a total cost of £6.5 billion.

There has been some discussion about Sea Viper’s lack of anti-ballistic missile
capability, whilst the United States (Aegis), Japan, South Korea and other
navies have surface combatants with sufficient anti-ballistic missile capabilities.
Unfortunately, except for the Sampson MFR, PAAMS components do not presently
meet such a ballistic missile defence tasking compared with the American Aegis
and its standard missile combination. However, it is anticipated that future
capacity exists to give PAAMS a theatre anti-ballistic missile (TABM) capacity to
deal with relatively unsophisticated threats such as Scud missiles with a range up
to 600 km and which follow a predictable ballistic trajectory. There are also some
critics who rightly point to the more complex Aegis architecture (preferred by
other modern navies such as the future Australia Hobart class) which can perform
a much more varied response, but the minimalistic approach of PAAMS may work
in its favour, and its active phased array technology is extremely advanced and
highly adaptable.

PAAMS operates in conjunction with the Thales S1850M (Type 1046) long-range radar,
the single large radar face structure on the aft section of the Type 45 (Figure 7.13),
rotating at 15 rpm, a little faster than the earlier Smart-L radar (12 rpm). The long-range
126 • Stealth Warship

radar is noticeably inclined upwards to give substantially improved long-range air cover
and is also a phased array-based system, although with less elements than Sampson,
rotating at 30 rpm (Figure 7.14).

Ÿ Figure 7.13 HMS Daring arriving at the Tail o’ the Banks to transfer personnel onto MV
Cruiser before heading upriver to Glasgow, August 2008 © John Crae

Ÿ Figure 7.14 Type 45 Destroyer © John Crae

Modern Stealth Ships • 127


The ship is extremely manoeuvrable, able to turn easily a figure of 8 with a diameter of
some three ship’s lengths and can routinely incline at significant angles to the normal
when in a turn. It is able to push 30 knots, and under such conditions it typically has a
bow wave just forward of the gun about half way above the waterline. The Type 45, like
the French La Fayette class, makes use of sliding covered panels to conduct activities
such as recovery of rigid inflatable boats (RIB) from the sea with a large four-pronged,
red-tipped ‘claw’. Daring has an operations room with modern state-of-the-art displays
and cutting-edge technology so that each operator can sit at a number of LCD screens,
typically with a blue background, onto which radar data and imagery, for example,
thermal view of an attacking aircraft, can be displayed.

The Sampson design was very important in terms of its functions and the capability it
brings to the platform, which in turn has a direct impact on the rest of the ship’s design.
To work effectively, Sampson must be placed some 30 m above the waterline in order
to provide the necessary radar coverage. Its size and weight determine the ship’s beam
in terms of necessary stability and also its length.

The Daring class uses a new system called integrated electric propulsion (IEP). Diesel-
electric engines and gas turbines generate electricity for electric motors to drive shafts.
The high voltage produced is transformed down to provide power supply to the various
weapon systems and the ship’s ‘hotel’ services. This power distribution architecture
means electric motors can be placed much closer to the propellers and use a shorter
shaft so that a mechanical gearbox is not needed [4].

Chitale [4] comments on the benefits of integrated full electric propulsion (IFEP):
increased survivability, reduced detectability, reduced manpower, aspects the Indian
Navy are keen to replicate and exploit for its own future warship designs.

From an electrical engineer’s perspective, IEP means electric motors can be operated
in both directions – simply by switching voltage polarity, saving cost and requiring
less maintenance, as does the absence of a gearbox! IFEP can provide a rapid rate of
acceleration. In sea trials, Daring was said to have reached her top speed of 29 knots in
just 70 s, reaching 31.5 knots in just over 2 min.

A recent report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee entitled
Ministry of Defence: Type 45 Destroyer (HC 372) raised a number of concerns with the
procurement process [5]. The Type 45 was procured to form the backbone of the Royal
Navy’s air defence capability for the next 30 years (and potentially beyond), and it will
provide a very impressive capability upgrade compared to the Type 42 Destroyers which
128 • Stealth Warship

it was designed to replace. However, the problems encountered on the project have
meant that it will enter service over 2 years later than expected and £1.5 billion over
budget. The UK MOD as a consequence had to extend the life of the Type 42 Destroyers
for much longer as a result and at a further cost of £195 million. The problems on the
Type 45 project resulted from the Department’s failure to take sufficient account of the
technical risks involved in such a complex project in its estimates of the likely costs and
timescales to deliver – not, as it turns out, especially smart. The Type 45 entered service
in 2009 without a single PAAMS missile having been fired from the ship and without
other equipments and capabilities to enhance the ship’s ability to conduct AAW
operations, which will not be fitted until after the ship is in service. Although the Type 45
was based on 80% new technology, the Department failed to take sufficient account
of this in its assessment of technical risk. However, the percentage man-hours required
to complete all the subsequent Type 45 platforms was approximately 60% that needed
for Daring, the first of its class. It is hoped that further lessons have been learned from
this that will help in not compromise the Carrier and Future Surface Combatant (FSC
or Type 26) introduction. The reduction in the number of destroyers to six (a highly
controversial decision) means it will be much more challenging for the MOD to meet its
policy requirement of five destroyers at sea for tasking at any time.

Italian and French Destroyer Variants


The first Italian Horizon-class frigate Caio Duilio (D554) was ordered in October 2000,
built by Horizon Sas and Fincontieri from September 2003 to launch in October 2007
and commissioned in April 2009. The ship was named after the third-century BC Roman
leader and Admiral Gauis Duilius. She has a similar displacement of 6,700 t and similar
dimensions to the Type 45 Destroyer. Power is provided by four diesel generators
(1.680 kW each). Propulsion is Combined Diesel or Gas (CODOG), with two gas turbine
engines (20.5 MW) and two diesel engines (4.32 MW each). She can achieve 29 knots
with gas turbines and 18 knots with diesel, achieving a range of 7,000 nm at 18 knots
and 3,500 nm at 24 knots, and an endurance of 45 days. Caio Duilio has an E/F band
Selex search radar, a 3D European multifunctional phased array radar, providing some
of the functionality of Sampson (Type 1045), and essential to the C2 of PAAMS.

The platform’s integrated CMS is based on a Linux system and provides 10 redundant
servers and 24 multifunction consoles (MFC): 19 located in the Primary Combat
Information Centre (CIC), 3 in a remote secondary CIC, 1 in the Admiral CIC and 1 in
Modern Stealth Ships • 129

Ÿ Figure 7.15 The CIC of ITS Duilio

the bridge (Figure 7.15). Authorised users can access tactical data relevant to their role
and common features such as the cameras, the Infra Red (IR) system view, the weapons
engagement plan, status of hardware and software subsystems, flight orders, weather
situation and so on.

The system automatically performs the control and the evaluation of each air target
and suggests possible engagement with missiles, gun fire or jammers. The system can
control 24 Aster missiles simultaneously in flight.

Particular note is made of the ship’s response to chemical, biological, radiological and
nuclear (CBRN) warfare, with a dedicated decontamination station, a series of new
generation sensors for such hazards detection distributed across the ship and an
external prewashing.

The long-range 3D radar used in the ship is the D-band Thales S1850M, common to
the UK destroyer programme. Secondary surveillance radar and navigation radar, the
I-band SPN 753(V)4, is also used. She possesses two multi-sensor target indicators
and a dual-colour (two wavelength), infra-red detection and tracking system (Sagem
Vampir), along with an electronic support measure (ESM) system. The platform also has
a medium-frequency hull sonar, various jammers, decoys and anti-torpedo systems,
besides rapid guns. She and her sister ship Andrea Doria form the Italian Doria class,
whilst the French-equivalent vessels are the Forbin and the Chevalier-Paul.
130 • Stealth Warship


The French meanwhile have the Forbin (D620), named after Claude Forbin-Gardanne,
a seventeenth-century French Admiral – laid down in January 2004 and launched in
March 2005. She was subsequently commissioned in 2008 and in service as of October
2010, and was built by DCNS and Thales group. Forbin, of the Horizon class, has a
displacement of 7,050 t and draft of 5.4 m, other dimensions being the same as for the
Caio Duilio. However, in addition to the PAAMS Aster missiles, she carries eight Exocet
Block 3 anti-ship missiles. The hull was built in 14 sections, each section 7 m high and
between 16 and 20 m long. Trials found that the CMS had some problems, delaying
completion of commissioning by several months. By November 2007 these problems
were overcome.

United States of America

M80 Stiletto

The M80 Stiletto is a recently built naval prototype manufactured by the M Ship
Company as an operational experimental platform for the US Navy. It has an unusual
catamaran (pentamaran) hull design which makes extensive use of carbon-fibre
construction for both strength and stealth. The M80 Stiletto is an American vessel
designed primarily for littoral combat and shallow water roles taking its name from the
Italian Stiletto – a short dagger. This 27 m-long vessel has an M-shaped hull providing a
stable and fast platform for surveillance, weapons and special operations (Figure 7.16).
Its shallow draft means the M80 Stiletto can operate in littoral and river environments
that other naval vessels cannot operate in (due to their draught) and can even allow for
amphibious assault if needed (Figure 7.17). The Stiletto is equipped with four 1,232 kW
engines, modest by comparison with the power levels of the Type 45 Destroyer, but
has a top speed over 50 knots and has a range of some 500  NM when fully loaded!
It uses jet drives for shallow water operations and beaching and a small flight deck
for the launch and retrieval of several UAVs. The Stiletto can set up a communications
network between special inserted forces teams by launching a UAV to relay information
between the team and the boat, and can send real-time images to the team on shore.
The ship is 88.6 ft long, with a width of 40 ft (12 m) and a height of 18.5 ft (5.6 m), and
with a surprisingly small draft of just 2.5 ft (0.8 m).

The Stiletto is the largest US naval vessel yet built using carbon-fibre composite and
advanced maritime epoxy building techniques, to yield a light but strong hull with a
Modern Stealth Ships • 131

Ÿ Figure 7.16 The crew of the experimental boat ship Stiletto readies the ship as it prepares to
launch a UAV during Exercise Howler. Stiletto is being tested for its usefulness in littoral combat
warfare and interoperable environments.

Ÿ Figure 7.17 M80 Stiletto during a NAVY SEALs training

very low RCS to avoid radar detection. The M80’s hull is unusually wide to capture the
vessel’s bow wave and redirect the wave energy under the hull. The Stiletto’s double-M
hull enables the craft to achieve as smooth a ride as possible in rough seas at high
speed, critical for Navy SEALS and Special Operations Forces.

Text by the US Navy: ‘Sailors assigned to Naval Special Clearance Team One (NSCT-1)
prepare to enter the well deck aboard experimental boat ship Stiletto’.
132 • Stealth Warship

In some ways, this is a practical small-scale supercessor to the US Sea Shadow, which
after its Lockheed Martin test days of the 1980s was for a few years used by Northrop
Grumman for initial research towards the recently abandoned Zumwalt programme.
As a final note perhaps to the history of the Sea Shadow (developed at a cost of a little
over £110 million), this stealthy platform was recently offered to be given away along
with its barge for free to any museum that would take it. The barge itself was built over
35 years ago to raise a sunken Soviet submarine, but since 2005 both have been housed
in San Diego, California.

Shivalik and INS Kolkata

The Indian Navy’s three Shivalik-class frigates have been built at the Mazagaon
dock in Mumbai in the Bay of Bengal with a further seven Shivalik-class frigates
on order. This frigate incorporates stealth features and land attack capability.
Shivalik is a mountain range in the northern Himalayas. The ship is designed for
structural, thermal and acoustic stealth. The first ship of the class INS Shivalik has
now undergone sea trials and originally expected to be commissioned into service
by December 2008. However, it was finally commissioned in April 2010. India’s
multi-role destroyer INS Kolkata’s keel was laid in September 2003 and launched in
2006. She was modified extensively to add stealth with rounded and covered sides
to make detection difficult, but unlike the Type 45 was not built primarily around
stealth. Missile launchers and superstructure are also covered in stealth materials
for the same reason. The Kolkata has an efficient gas turbine propulsion system,
allowing speeds above 30 knots and also carries cruise missiles. Kolkata represents
a potent combination of stealth and strength. INS Kolkata is the largest and most
complex Indian multi-role destroyer to date and is armed with supersonic BrahMos
cruise missiles to meet the requirements of this growing regional and international
economy. The Kolkata meanwhile has a 24-cell vertical launch system for surface-to-
air missiles (SAMs) in its forward and aft areas, and four AK-630 rapid-fire guns. The
ship will have a gun for surface targets. There are also twin-tube torpedo launchers
and anti-submarine rocket launchers. Besides an MFR system, the destroyer has a
Humsa-NG hull-mounted sonar and an active towed array sonar. Kolkata can also
operate two multi-role helicopters. All sensors and weapons are integrated in a
state-of-the-art system, the networking of the weapons and sensors enabling the
ship to combat multiple threats simultaneously.
Modern Stealth Ships • 133


Russia has also recently unveiled a St Petersburg-built stealth gunboat, the Astrakhan,
with stealth capabilities previously only found on larger vessels such as the Kirov.
The Kirov was named after Sergey Kirov, a Bolshevik revolutionary and famous Soviet
communist (1886–1934).

The Astrakhan (Figure 7.18) is the first gunboat in the Russian Navy’s Buyan class to have
stealth capabilities and is armed with various artillery systems previously used only on
Soviet navy destroyers.

According to Navy Commander Vladimir Masorin, ‘Our country (Russia) is still capable of
building combat ships without outside assistance and there is no doubt it will be in the
future.’ The Buyan-class corvette was designed by Zelenodolsk Design and designated
Project 21630 by the Russian government. This build represents the newest corvette
for the Russian Navy, with the first ship of her class, the Astrakhan, commissioned in
January 2006 and subsequently assigned to the Caspian Flotilla, where it is intended
to spend its entire working life. Astrakhan was built in the Almaz shipyard (established
in 1901), which has built more than 1,000 missile and patrol boats for the Russian
Navy and Coast Guard as well as for foreign clients, including an export version of the
Stevegushchiy corvette – the Tiger, incorporating stealth technologies. Certainly there
has been a lot of positioning during 2011 to create interest in overseas sales of similar
Russian-built stealth platforms.

Ÿ Figure 7.18 Astrakhan corvette from Caspian Flotilla

134 • Stealth Warship


The La Fayette class (Figure 7.19) is France’s multimillion stealth frigate, which is termed
a 3,000 t light frigate or Frégate Légère Furtive.

These ships are light, multi-mission frigates built by and operated by France’s Marine
Nationale with exported derivative models overseas. Their significantly reduced RCS
is achieved by the design of a very ‘clean’ upper deck superstructure compared to
conventional designs, reducing the so-called ‘radar microgeometry’, with angled sides
and radar absorbent materials, a composite material of wood and glass fibre as hard as
steel, light and fire resistant. It should be noted that a lot of the early stealth materials
were not especially fire resistant and were also highly toxic. Greater stringency on
environmental pollution and health has reduced these hazards significantly.

Most modern fighting ships built around the world since the introduction of the La
Fayette have followed a similar principle of making stealth one of its key design features.
The La Fayette has space available for future installation of the smaller Aster 15 missile,
the latest state-of-the-art, anti-air, pan-European weapon, which is also incorporated

Ÿ Figure 7.19 La Fayette-class Courbet

Modern Stealth Ships • 135

within the arsenal of British Type 45 Destroyer. It currently carries the Crotale short-
range defence system as well as Exocet missiles, which proved deadly to the British
during the Falklands Conflict against Argentina. Ships are designed to accommodate
a 10 t helicopter, such as the Panther or NH90 helicopter. These embarked helicopters
can carry anti-ship AM39 or AS15 missiles. France ordered five ships of the La Fayette
class in 1988, the last of which entered service in 2002.

It took several years to develop the concept, and the first ship was launched in 1992. This
class is well-suited to hostile environments and was designed to operate in complex
conflict zones. The weapon system testing took place in 1994, and extensive trials
proved the structure of the ship under a wide range of conditions. The La Fayette itself
was commissioned in March 1996. At that time, the La Fayette class really was the state-
of-the-art in stealth for warships with an approximate 10° surface tilt across the entire
superstructure. The shape of the hull and its superstructure was designed to minimise
radar signature, by up to 60%, so a 3,000 t La Fayette would have the radar signature of
a 1,200 t ship making its various radar decoys more effective. Stealth is achieved with
inclined surfaces and superstructure: mooring equipment is internal, and prominent
structures are covered over by plates. The superstructure is also built using synthetic
radar absorbent materials. The La Fayette’s RCS is equivalent to that of a ‘large fishing
boat’, which makes radar ‘camouflage’ amidst civilian ships easy perhaps by indicating a
less capable corvette, which might lead an enemy to critically underestimate the ship’s
capabilities. In case of direct attack, a smaller radar signature will help it to evade enemy
missiles or fire control systems. The La Fayette is equipped with radar deception jammers
that can generate realistic false radar images as well as decoy launchers. The La Fayette
also has a low thermal signature, given that it uses low-power diesel motors and a special
heat dissipation system. A conventional funnel is replaced by small sets of pipes, aft of
the mast, which are able to cool exit gases before their release into the atmosphere.

Unlike the United Kingdom, French ships usually operate in warm waters of the
Mediterranean or its overseas territories, which further decreases the thermal contrast
with the environment. Magnetic signature is reduced and acoustic signature minimised
by mounting engines on elastic supports, which transmit fewer vibrations to the hull,
and it has rubber coatings on its propellers. La Fayette is also equipped with the Prairie
Masker active acoustic ‘bubble’ camouflage system, which generates small bubbles
from underneath the hull to confuse sonars.

The La Fayette’s superstructure blends into the hull with only a slight change in
inclination, and it is made of light alloy and GRP, which allow a reduction in overall
top weight. This provides reasonable resistance to fire. Vital zones are additionally
armoured with Kevlar and important systems have redundancy built in similar to
the Type 23 frigate. The La Fayette class were built with a modular approach from
11 prefabricated modules, delivered to the shipyard and assembled there. This same
136 • Stealth Warship

approach was followed by the recent Type 45 and Horizon Class and resulted in a very
short construction time of under 2 years. The cable deck is covered to reduce the radar
signature, with seamanship evolutions completed through temporary openings in the
hull. The hull has a pronounced angle at the stern with a short forecastle integrated
into the superstructure, whilst the ship's sides have a negative inclination of 10°. The La
Fayette’s single anchor is located exactly on the stern, into which it is recessed. Similarly
the deck where seamanship equipment and capstans are installed is also internalised
to hide it from radar. The superstructure is built in one piece and directly integrated into
the fully assembled hull. This superstructure runs continuously down to the helicopter
hangar, on top of which short-range, anti-air Crotale missiles are installed. There are two
masts, a main mast with a pyramidal structure which integrates funnels and supports
the antenna of the French Syracuse satellite system, and a second mast which supports
the main ship’s radar. Incidentally the lead ship, La Fayette (F710), was featured in the
17th James Bond film Golden Eye in 1995 as the site for the unveiling of the Eurocopter
Tiger which is subsequently stolen in the film.

France’s La Fayette-class multi-mission stealth frigate is now widely available in Saudi

Arabia, Singapore and Taiwan, and is powered by diesel-electric engines. They have a
maximum speed of 25 knots and 7,000 nm range endurance.

Saudi Arabia
Al Riyadh

The three Al Riyadh-class ships are an expanded version of the La Fayette class, displacing
some 4,700 t. The ship’s combat system is produced by Armaris and also armed with
the Aster 15 missile. The Aster missiles also use the Sylver launcher, common to the
Type 45 Destroyer. As with the La Fayette class, the primary offensive weapon is its
anti-surface Exocet missile.

Formidable-Class Frigate

The Republic of Singapore’s French-built Formidable-class frigate is also comparable

in size to the La Fayette class but differs from that class and the Al Riyadh class in
the armament it carries. In place of the Exocet missile is the US Boeing Harpoon.
Modern Stealth Ships • 137

The main gun is a stealth cupola equipped with a 76 mm gun replacing the usual 100 mm
automatic gun. The Formidable class uses the SYLVER launcher/Aster missile
combination also found on the Type 45. The first ship, RSS Formidable, was built by
DCN, while the remaining ships were constructed by Singapore Technologies Marine.
Maximum speed is 27 knots (50 km h−1) with a maximum range of 4,200 nm, making it
the fastest and most mobile variant. The Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy is also seeking
to upgrade its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. Six ships are configured for
ASW and surface attack. Exocet is replaced by a Taiwanese surface attack missile, and
the AAW weapon is the Chaparral, an elderly SAM system now considered less adequate
for defence against aircraft and anti-ship missiles than when first conceived. The class’
maximum speed is 25 knots and has a maximum range of 4,000 nm.


The stealthiest of its platforms is the Braunschweig-class corvette. This ship includes
stealth and is similar in some respects to the US Arleigh Burke class, which also employs

Ÿ Figure 7.20 The Thales Nederland APAR, mounted on the German Sachsen-class frigate
Hamburg (F 220)
138 • Stealth Warship

stealth technology but was not built around it. This German stealthy ship’s shape is
achieved by fabricating a hull and superstructure with a series of slightly protruding
and retruding surfaces (a little bit like the dimples on a golf ball but on a larger scale)
and has been extensively applied on other German vessels. Sloped surfaces are also
used extensively on Sachsen-class frigates, and angling is visible on the APAR mast
(Figure 7.20).


China unveiled her first stealth radar-evading warship Yantai in July 1999, and this
is expected to make a significant contribution to the modernisation of the Chinese
Navy. On its maiden 120-day voyage of 9,000 miles, over 300 faults were discovered
and rectified, not surprising for a platform with 30% of its equipment newly designed.
Similar teething problems are encountered on every new ship’s platform and
during its sea trials; the first of a Royal Navy fleet of six T45 destroyers with 80% new
technology was no exception. Work on new Chinese warships has progressed rapidly.
Project 523B guided-missile frigate, Yantai, entered service in 2003. At least three of

Ÿ Figure 7.21 Chinese ship with disruptive naval camouflage

Modern Stealth Ships • 139

Ÿ Figure 7.22 Chinese ship without disruptive naval camouflage

her sister ships were under construction in 2004. Although details about the Chinese
warship programme are somewhat vague, it is know that China is also developing a
number of smaller stealth vessels with highly distinctive visual camouflage markings
(Figures 7.21–7.22). Similar camouflage is currently marketed by a Canadian company
under the registered trademark of Hyperstealth [6].

Several other surface vessels employ stealth technology, such as the Evertsen, the
Dutch Zeven Provincien-class frigate; Turkish MILGEM corvette; Norwegian Skjold-
class patrol boat; Chinese Houbei-class missile boat; Finish Hamina-class missile boat;
and Chilean patrol vessels. These vessels have much vested in stealth: the element of
surprise and survivability elements of warfare, elements that are unlikely to diminish in
importance in the near future.

Chapter reflection

1. Compare the different ships discussed in this chapter in terms of capabilities

(see appendix for further details) and contrast the different methods used to
achieve stealth for the relevant cross sections and signatures.
140 • Stealth Warship


1. http://www.kockums.se/.
2. Phillips, LD (2011), ‘The Royal Navy’s Type 45 story: A case study’, Chapter 3, in A Salo,
J Keisler and A Morton (eds), Portfolio Decision Analysis: Improved Methods for Resource
Allocation, International Series in Operations Research and Management Science 162,
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-9943-6, New York: Springer Science and Business Media, LLC.
3. Comptroller and Auditor General (2009), Ministry of Defence: Providing Anti-Air Warfare
Capability: The Type 45 Destroyer: Report. HC (2008–09), vol. 295. London: The Stationery
4. Chitale, Captain SS (2010), ‘Integrated full electric propulsion’, Journal of the Institution of
Engineers (India), 90: 18–22.
5. House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. (2009). Ministry of Defence: Type 45
Destroyer, Thirtieth Report of Session: Report. HC (2008–09), vol. 372. London: The Stationery
Office Limited.
6. www.hyperstealth.com.
It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive
naval force we can do nothing definitive
President George Washington, 1781

The book so far has examined the history of stealth and the key aspects of stealth
technology, and reviewed the current generation of stealth vessels and prototype
vessels. This last chapter is more difficult to finalise as it considers ships in the
initial planning stage and those in early build, as well as one recently abandoned
stealth vessel (which will feed into future US surface platforms), and various ideas
that may be incorporated into other future surface combatant (FSC) platforms,
particularly those concepts drawn from developments in the aviation industry.
Consequently this chapter is in some respects the most interesting and yet may
be the furthest from the mark when considered in reflection in 10 years time!
From an author’s viewpoint, the ‘twists and turns’ of changes in government and
a changing background of costs is apparent in discussions of the chosen aircraft
for the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, requiring several rewrites – the last
being May 2012.
142 • Stealth Warship

Queen Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carrier

In the United Kingdom, we have designed platforms envisaged to incorporate stealth

for the future. The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, formerly Carrier Vessel Future
(CVF) project, are a two-ship class of aircraft carrier being developed for the Royal Navy
with some aspects of stealth which will enable decoy systems to be more effective
(Figure 8.1). HMS Queen Elizabeth was originally expected to enter service in 2014, HMS
Prince of Wales a little later in 2016. However, on 19 October 2010, the government
announced the results of its Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). Only one
carrier is now certain to be commissioned; the fate of the other is undecided. The
second ship of the class may be placed in ‘extended readiness’ to maintain a single-
carrier strike capability when the other is in refit or to provide the option to generate
a two-carrier strike ability. But I will give a little more detail about this decision later.

Both vessels are intended to displace about 65,000 t (full load), with a length of 280 m
to provide a flight deck sufficient to provide the capability to launch up to 50 aircraft.
This is comparable in displacement to about 10 Type 45 Destroyers or 20 Type 23s
(Figure 8.2)! So to try and make the platform ‘invisible’ is clearly an unrealistic objective.

Ÿ Figure 8.1 Diagrams depicting Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, a future UK carrier
incorporating stealth
Future Naval Stealth Platforms • 143

Ÿ Figure 8.2 The US Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) (left) steams alongside
the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R06) in the Persian Gulf on 9 April 1998.
Note: The two ships were operating in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch,
which was the US and coalition enforcement of the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. The CVF
carriers will be closer in size to a Nimitz-class carrier than the Invincible-class ships they replace.

However, the need to replace the ageing Invincible-class aircraft carriers was beyond
doubt and confirmed by the 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR).

In September 2002, the MOD announced that the Royal Navy and RAF would jointly
operate a stealthy short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lightning II
variant and that the future carriers would be conventional carriers, adapted for STOVL
operations. In January 2003, MOD further announced that Thales had won the design
competition, with BAE Systems Surface Ships operating as prime contractor providing
40% of the project. These companies are now part of a ‘carrier alliance’ with the MOD
and other companies. The contract for the vessels was announced in July 2007.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathan Band was quoted as saying of the ships that ‘[t]hese
ships are our insurance policy for our national security, maintaining stability and peace
and, if necessary, fighting’, and ‘[t]hese ships will be able to deliver air power anywhere
in the world that we need it’. The dimensions of the Queen Elizabeth are 280 m long,
70 m wide, 56 m keel to masthead, up to 40 aircraft including a hanger 150 m long
with 20 aircraft slots and enough space for six Chinooks, and a ship’s company of 1,450.
The ship will have a 11 m draft and house 10 decks, and both carriers were together
estimated to cost £3.6 billion; again I will return to this issue of cost a little further.
144 • Stealth Warship

A Brief History of the Build So Far

On 25 January 1999, six companies were invited to tender for the project’s
assessment phase – British Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Marconi Electronic
Systems, Thomson-CSF and Raytheon. In November 1999, the UK MOD awarded
detailed assessment studies to two consortia, one led by BAE Systems and the other
by the Thales Group. The brief required multiple designs from each consortium with
anticipated air groups of up to 40 Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA). Contracts were
split into two phases, the first a £5.9 million phase for design assessment, forming part
of the aircraft selection, whist the second £23.5 million phase involving ‘risk reduction
on the preferred carrier design option’.

In January 2001, the United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the
US Department of Defense for full participation in the JSF programme, confirming the
JSF as the FJCA. In September 2002, the STOVL F-35B Lightning II variant was selected
for STOVL operations. The carriers are expected to remain in service for up to 50 years,
and planned to be ‘future proof’, allowing them to operate a second generation of
aircraft beyond the F-35.

The contract for the vessels was announced in July 2007 by the Secretary of State
for Defence, ending delays over costs and naval shipyard restructuring. The cost
was estimated initially as £3.5–3.6 billion. Contracts were signed in July 2008 after
the creation of BVT Surface Fleet through the merger of BAE Systems Surface Fleet
Solutions and VT Group’s VT Shipbuilding – a requirement set by the UK government.

In October 2010, the UK government announced the results of the SDSR which stated
that only one carrier would be commissioned. This has several implications for UK
carrier strike capability and was the subject of a House of Commons Committee of
Public Accounts report [1]. Oral evidence provided by Ursula Brenna, Permanent Under-
Secretary of MOD to Mr Richard Bacon, in July 2011 confirmed the view that originally
the MOD should have had two aircraft carriers for just over £3.6 billion. However, the
United Kingdom will now only get one useable aircraft carrier for nearly twice that
figure (£6.24 billion). There are also further total cost uncertainties as there is some
other equipment included in the carrier design which needs to be fully quantified. This
stands against the 1998 SDR, which was then committed to replace the three existing
Invincible-class aircraft carriers with two larger more versatile carriers. The current
projection is the United Kingdom will have no fixed-wing carrier aircraft capability for
2012–2020, and is reduced to a single operational carrier with significantly reduced
Future Naval Stealth Platforms • 145

availability at sea when carrier strike capability is reintroduced in 2020. Certainly the
carrier variant will be more capable with greater operational range (10,000 NM) and the
ability to carry a heavier payload than previously. However, it will require installation
of catapults and arrestor gear to assist aircraft in both take-off and land. The proposed
technology has yet to be tested, and the version the United Kingdom intends to buy
will be unique to Britain – a key risk element.

The costs of converting the carrier for use with the carrier variant aircraft (the STOVL
variant of the JSF) would not be known until late 2012 at the earliest. The decision
of the financial benefit from converting to the carrier variant aircraft, against what
it would cost to convert the aircraft carriers (providing a large potential saving by
moving to this variant aircraft), appears to have been made in advance of any definitive
costing as the accurate figure will not be available until after the 18-month conversion
development phase costs and risks report is submitted! However, initial assessment
seemed to support this move and it should be added that available manpower is also a
factor in the decision to provide only one operational aircraft carrier.

To start with, there should be six operational fixed-wing aircraft on the carrier at its
inception in 2020, as the first half of the first squadron of 12. At this stage, and after it,
the figure of aircraft is uncertain. Certainly the MOD had stated a requirement for the
carrier strike capability to be able to generate daily sortie rates of 72 with 36 fast jets
embarked. As a result of the SDSR decision, the sortie rate will be reduced to 20, which
leads to the question of whether with fewer planes the carriers will be able to fulfil their
role as outlined for them in the National Security Strategy. Proportionally, a daily sortie
rate of 20 could be delivered by only 10 FJCA, not even a full squadron. The STOVL
aircraft is also more complicated than the more conventional aircraft. It has an extra
engine and is trying to do complex things, such as a STOVL. It also has a smaller bomb
bay, which may create difficulties for existing sized weapons.

On entering service, the Queen Elizabeth is anticipated to achieve a top speed of 25

knots, with power supplied by two Rolls-Royce Marine Trent MT30 36 MW gas turbine
generators and four tried and tested Wärtsilä diesel generator sets (two 9 MW and two
11 MW sets). These generators are the largest ever supplied to the Royal Navy, which
feed the low-voltage system that supplies the tandem electric propulsion motors
driving the twin fixed-pitch propeller shafts. Interestingly a non-propulsor technology
has been chosen in spite of this producing less acoustic noise.

The flight deck is equivalent to three football pitches, with two small islands instead of a
traditional large, single island. The forward island will control the ship’s functions, while
the aft island is for air traffic control (ATC). Beneath the flight deck are a further nine
decks, with a hangar deck measuring 509 by 109.9 ft and height between 22 and 33 ft,
146 • Stealth Warship

large enough to accommodate 20 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. To transfer aircraft

from the hangar to the flight deck, the ships will have two large lifts, each capable of
lifting two F-35-sized aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck in 1 min.

Radar and Weapons Systems

The ship’s radars will be the BAE Systems Type 1046 long-range radar, as fitted to the
Type 45, for wide area search, and the BAE Systems Artisan 3D maritime medium-
range radar and a navigation radar. The BAE claims the Type 1046 has a fully
automatic detection and track initiation that can track up to 1,000 air targets at a
range of 400 km, whilst Artisan is reputed to be able to track targets the size of a shell
over 12.5 miles away.

Munitions and ammunition handling is achieved with a highly mechanised weapons

handling system (HMWHS). This is the Royal Navy’s first naval application of this common
land-based warehouse system. The HMWHS moves palleted munitions from magazines
and weapon preparation areas, along set tracks and via lifts (forward and aft, port and
starboard). Tracks can carry a pallet to magazines, the hangar, weapons preparation
areas and the flight deck. Magazines will be fully automated for the first time, pallet
movement is controlled instead from a central location; men are only needed when
munitions are initially stored or prepared, which speeds the delivery and reduces the
needed crew size. However, the ship’s only self-defence is the Phalanx CIWS to counter
airborne threats, with mini-guns and 30 mm cannons to counter seaborne threats.

Embarked Fleet Air Arm?

The carrier is expected to carry 40 aircraft, for example, 35 F-35s and 5 helicopters,
although the final number is uncertain. In my view, the ill-timed forced retirement of the
Harrier GR7/9 in 2010 (which was done rather than retiring the Tornado, an aircraft still
required for its ground attack role which the Typhoon has yet to develop fully) leaves the
Royal Navy and RAF with a lamentable lack in current carrier-capable, fixed-wing aircraft
availability. This decision has created an avoidable temporary capability shortfall.

Both ships were originally intended to carry the STOVL version, the F-35B. In October
2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the United Kingdom would
Future Naval Stealth Platforms • 147

change their order to the F-35C carrier variant, and both platforms would be modified
to use a suitable CATOBAR system for launch and landing aircraft, so the cheaper F-35C
variant with its greater range can carry a larger and more diverse payloads than the
F-35B. However, on May 2012, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced the
F-35C now had ‘developmental problems’ and it would now be cheaper to order F-35B
jump jets as originally planned! Unfortunately, this reversal will cost about £100 million.
F-35C delays would have meant aircraft would enter service from 2023 onwards –
3 years later than planned. Financially, scrapping the CATOBAR system does put two
possible carriers into operational service. The estimated cost of the CATOBAR system
had increased from £950 million to £2 billion – and rising. Putting the F-35B STOVL
back raises individual aircraft cost from £59.9 to £65.5 million, but without any carrier
adaptation costs. The government was criticised for this decision, but it makes financial
sense in spite of being a real ‘U-turn’ and should be valued for restoring two carrier
platforms. As I previously stated, the electromagnetic launch system is an untested UK
technology, and it is wiser to go for a ‘tried and tested’ technology at this stage rather
than after an expensive £2 billion conversion failure!

The remaining factor to consider is the availability of aircrew. With the Harrier scrapped
(and sold to the Americans who quickly bought them all up), and the view that STOVL
skills were no longer needed, most of the highly skilled Harrier pilots were made
redundant, with a few retained training to fly the F-18. It is lamentably easier to build a
platform than to prevent skills fade or to hone those skills in the first place.

Carrier Construction

The carrier build is being undertaken by four companies across seven shipyards,
with block integration and assembly at Rosyth by BAE Systems Surface Ships: Govan
(lower blocks 3 and 4), Scotstoun (aft island) and Portsmouth (lower block 2 and
forward island); Babcock Mari: Rosyth (sponsons, mast and centre blocks 5 and 6)
and Appledore (lower block 1); A&P Group: Hebburn (centre block 3); and Cammell
Laird: Birkenhead (centre blocks 2 and 4). In December 2007, eight diesel engines and
electricity generators, four for each ship, were ordered from Wärtsilä. In March 2008,
contracts for 80,000 t of steel were placed with Corus Group (value £65 million). Other
contracts included £4 million for aviation fuel systems, £3 million for fibre-optic cable
and £1 million for reverse osmosis equipment, providing 500 t of fresh water daily. In
April 2008, a contract for manufacture of the specialist F-35C aircraft lifts (£13 million)
was awarded to MacTaggart Scott of Loanhead, Scotland.
148 • Stealth Warship

In May 2008, the UK Treasury announced it would provide further funds beyond the set
defence budget to commence carrier construction.

In September 2008, MOD announced several other key equipment contracts: £34 million
for the HMWHS, £8 million for supply of uptake and down-take systems, £5 million for
ATC software, £3 million for supply of pumps and associated systems, and £1 million for
emergency diesel generators. In October 2008, it was announced that contracts had
been placed for the ‘Rolls-Royce gas turbines, generators, motors, power distribution
equipment, platform management systems, propellers, shafts, steering gear, rudders and
stabilisers’. Carrier construction at peak will involve over 10,000 people in 90 UK companies,
with 7,000 employed directly in the seven shipyards building the ships’ sections.

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08)

The first steel was cut for the project in July 2009, signalling the start of construction
of lower block 3 at BAE Systems Clyde, followed by lower block 4 in January 2010
(figure 8.3). Meanwhile, construction of the bow lower block 1 completed in
March 2010 at Appledore, North Devon. In January 2010, it was announced that

Ÿ Figure 8.3 Section of lower block 1 (Bulbous bow) of HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth
Future Naval Stealth Platforms • 149

Cammell Laird has also secured a £44 million contract to build the carriers’ flight decks.
In August 2011, the 8,000 t lower block 3 of HMS Queen Elizabeth left BAE’s Govan
shipyard on a large barge to travel 600 miles around the north coast of Scotland,
arriving in Rosyth on the 20th August.

In November 2011, it was announced that the Queen Elizabeth would not be finished
in a CATOBAR configuration, in spite of earlier assurances, which has considerable
consequences for F-35C operations. The First Sea Lord Admiral Stanhope said, ‘Current
navy assumptions will see the second-in-class aircraft carrier fitted with catapults and
arrestor wire ready to operate the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter carrier variant in 2020,
but the fate of HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will launch first and be used to train crews
in handling HMS Prince of Wales, is less certain’ [2]. Training of embarked flight crew
will be affected by this decision. The May 2012 Defence Secretary announcement
will see these shortfalls and several important operational issues back on the ‘road
to recovery’.

Under present plans, HMS Queen Elizabeth will enter service in 2016. Construction
on the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, began in May 2011 when then Defence
Secretary Liam Fox cut the first steel. In November 2011, the First Sea Lord
Admiral Stanhope confirmed that the Prince of Wales will be fitted to a CATOBAR
configuration, a conversion which is expected to increase the total cost, potentially
to over £6.2 billion. HMS Prince of Wales, entering service in 2018, would only be the
second ship in the world fitted with the American electromagnetic aircraft launch
system (EMALS). I am not holding my breath that there will be no future changes,
but it is very unlikely to be another last minute ‘U-turn’ on this particular issue of the
aircraft variant!

UK FSC or Type 26 Frigate

The Future Surface Combatant is a generic expression describing developments

in several navies worldwide. The Royal Swedish Navy, for example, with its current
Visby-class corvette (one might say a littoral surface combatant (LSC) of the future
already here today), is even now thinking ahead to the mid-twenty-first century
with the intent to build modular multifunction corvettes which can operate in the
littoral zone and potentially outside of it on a global scale [3]. The US Navy is also
looking to the future with its own littoral combat ship (LCS) seeking scaled, modular
war-fighting capability with a 40-knot spring speed and shallow draft [4]. Lockheed
150 • Stealth Warship

Martin has also undertaken preliminary design work on an LCS proposed to the Israeli
Navy (known as the LCS-I), with additional interest drawn from Saudi Arabia. However,
Israel is now believed to favour its own LCS development in Israel, whilst French interest
lies with its FutuRe European Multi-Mission (FREMM) frigates [5]. Meanwhile the British
are looking to the Type 26, or Global Combat Ship (GCS), as its FSC [6, 7].

The Type 26 frigate or GCS is a ship programme underway by the Ministry of Defence.
The first Type 26 frigate is expected to enter service after 2020 to replace the 13 Type
23 frigates still in service. In March 2010, the BAE Systems Surface Ships was awarded
a 4-year contract to develop the Type 26 variant of the GCS. The 2010 SDSR reaffirmed
the UK government’s commitment to the FSC, stating that ‘[a]s soon as possible after
2020 the Type 23 will be replaced by Type 26 frigates, designed to be easily adapted
to change roles and capabilities depending on the strategic circumstances’ [8]. The
platform will incorporate existing available stealth technology but is unlikely to include
many new stealth concepts or new technologies as the priority is to produce as many
versatile FSCs as cheaply as possible.

Plans for an FSC escort vessel to replace the Royal Navy’s ageing Type 22 and Type 23
frigates started in 1998 with the RV Triton, to see if a trimaran design was practical for
such a large and complex vessel. However, by early 2000, the Royal Navy favoured a
more conventional design. In March 2005, plans were released for a two-class solution,
a cheaper ‘medium-sized vessel derivative’ and a more capable ‘versatile surface
combatant’ [9].

In 2006, the MOD started a Sustained Surface Combatant Capability (S2C2) programme
to explore efficiencies and synergies between the FSC and the need for updated
minesweepers, patrol ships and survey ships. By early 2007, this generated three
requirements: C1, C2 and C3. C1 was to be an ASW platform, C2 a general purpose
platform and C3 a Global Corvette replacing a larger number of smaller vessels.

In early 2010, the C3 variant was dropped in favour of the Mine Countermeasures
Hydrographic and Patrol Capability (MHPC) programme to update the mine
countermeasures vessels (MCV) capabilities currently provided by RN Sandown-
class minesweepers (and also by the US Navy’s Avenger class). The FSC concept was
brought forward in the 2008 budget, at the expense of two Type 45 destroyers. In
2009, the BAE Systems received a contract to design the C1 and C2 frigates with a
planned 25-year lifespan.

In March 2010, the BAE Systems was given a 4-year, £127 million contract to design
the Type 26 GCS (formerly the FSC C1). It was confirmed that the first of these Type 26
frigates is expected to be delivered to the Royal Navy by 2020. The SDSR then decided
to merge the remaining two FSC classes into the Type 26 GCS. The Type 26 will combine
Future Naval Stealth Platforms • 151

advantages of both variants into a versatile ship, designed to readily change roles and
capabilities depending on the strategic circumstances – at least this is the intent.

As a result of the SDSR, the Royal Navy’s escort fleet is left with a modest 19 destroyers
and frigates (6 Type 45 destroyers and 13 Type 23 frigates) and may struggle to meet
anticipated (apart from unanticipated) requirements. Unlike the original FSC, the GCS
will have only one hull design. The current design has a length of 148 m, beam of 19 m,
top speed of at least 26 knots (48 km hr−1) and a crew of 130 with room for 36 embarked
troops. It will have 60 days endurance and a range of 7,000 miles at 15 knots (28 km hr−1).

Weapons and Systems

These ships will use the Artisan 3D search radar, Sonar 2087 (towed array sonar) and
Sea Ceptor, common anti-air modular missile (CAMM) air defence missiles launched
via a vertical launch seawolf (VLS). In addition, like the Type 23 frigates they replace,
the Type 26 frigate will be equipped with a torpedo launching system with existing
or next-generation acoustic homing torpedoes. It is expected that the Type 26 frigate
will be equipped from inception with two quad, anti-ship missile launchers (e.g. eight
harpoon missiles), unlike the Type 45.

The Type 26 will be fitted-out with guns of various calibres. Primarily it is expected
that the main gun will consist of either the ‘127 mm, medium-calibre gun’ or the BAE
Systems’ 4.5 in. Mark 8 naval gun. In addition, smaller guns will be included.

Modular and Flexible

The GCS is designed to be modular and flexible to enhance versatility across its
full operational range: maritime security, counter piracy and terrorism as well as
humanitarian and disaster relief operations. In the stern, a mission bay with a ramp
allows RIB deployment and unmanned surface vehicles or towed array sonar storage.
The well deck at the back permits unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) launch and
recovery. Aircraft similar in size to the Boeing Chinook can also fly from the large flight
deck, and the hangar can accommodate either Merlin or Wildcat helicopters. The
flight deck and hanger can additionally accommodate UAVs.
152 • Stealth Warship

United States of America

US Navy DD(X) Zumwalt

The DD(X), the US Navy’s future multi-mission surface combatant, will significantly
shape the future of the US Navy and its operational effectiveness well into the second
half of the twenty-first century, although the programme has now been discontinued
due to budgetary constraints (Figure 8.4).

Zumwalt, named after former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr, is
the lead ship of the DD(X) destroyer programme, planned to be a next-generation,
multi-mission surface combatant tailored for land attack and littoral dominance with
capabilities that defeat current and projected threats. The remarkable revolution in
design, development and construction is comparable in naval terms to the revolutionary
development of the swept wing or the turbo jet engine. At 14,000 t, DD(X) should prove
a formidable ship, and will patrol from the temperate waters of the Persian Gulf to the
freezing waters of the North Atlantic.

Ÿ Figure 8.4 An artist rendering of the Zumwalt-class destroyer DDG 1000, a new class of multi-
mission US Navy surface combatant ship designed to operate as part of a joint maritime fleet,
assisting Marine strike forces ashore as well as performing littoral, air and sub-surface warfare.
Future Naval Stealth Platforms • 153

Size offers greater survivability and allows a warship to absorb the effects of small
attacks. It is widely recognised that any ship below 100 m length, in spite of design
materials, is likely to be destroyed if struck with a modern surface-to-surface, anti-ship
missile. DD(X) is an advanced, expeditionary combatant for a new age of naval warfare,
combining revolutionary land attack capability with the ability to protect itself in all
environments, especially the littoral. It will deliver Tomahawk missile strikes to pinpoint
accuracy. According to John Nilsson, one of the designers, the RCS will be reduced by
99%, a very big improvement. The cost of the platform will be $2.8 billion, also a very
significant figure! The DD(X) will offer full-spectrum signature management to cloak it
from a variety of detection and targeting methods (Figure 8.5).

Its signature-dampening characteristics will change how the US Navy fights, forcing
its enemy to alter the way he fights in turn, hopefully to American advantage. With the
DD(X)’s low signatures hidden among significant clutter of the littoral environment,
ship commanders may develop new maritime dominance tactics. By complicating
the enemy’s detection and engagement, the DD(X) will stretch tactical advantages by
limiting the effective distance of hostile sensors and weapons and increasing the space
in which ships can safely operate.

The design will necessitate changes to the appearance of future military ships in the
same way that stealth technology changed the appearance of new military aircraft
such as the F-117 fighter and B2 bomber. Whilst stealth technology has several
aspects, one in particular is the careful control of exterior surfaces which requires
precision fabrication technology, from its stainless steel substructure to its glass-
reinforced composite panels. According to Northrop Grumman, ‘The DD(X) will

Ÿ Figure 8.5 Zumwalt infrastructure © CR Lavers

154 • Stealth Warship

be as revolutionary as the Dreadnought was when the British introduced it at the

turn of the last century.’ However, as of late July 2008, the US Navy’s ‘flagship’ DDG
1000 Zumwalt land attack destroyer programme was unexpectedly cancelled. Navy
officials cited massive cost overruns which would threaten other critical procurement
programmes. Similar problems may impact other naval programmes as the price
of stealth ‘rockets’ to unacceptably high levels. On the positive side, two Zumwalt-
class destroyers currently being built will be finished. The US Navy’s requirement
for additional destroyers will now have to be met by building more conventional
tried and tested Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyers instead of the DDG-1000.
These new Arleigh Burke destroyers will be fitted with some systems intended for
the Zumwalt, including the SPY-3 AEGIS radar and fire-control system. The DD(X)
would have replaced the Arleigh Burke destroyer, which itself incorporated several
radar and infra-red reduction measures (Figure 8.6), and so this could be regarded
as a retrograde step. The DD(X) includes breakthroughs in electric technology
for enhanced ship performance, such as fuel cell technology and its DC power
distribution architecture, which will eventually benefit other aspects of the US Navy
and US armed forces programmes of the future.

The US Navy has instead begun a programme to modernise its current 84 Aegis cruisers
and destroyers over the next 20 years, with an estimated cost of US$16.6 billion.
These modernisations will ensure that the ships can be operated throughout their
intended 35-year life cycle [10]. The Navy’s FY 2011 budget proposals cancelled the
DDX programme as unaffordable, whilst improved Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class Aegis
destroyers (called the Flight III version) will take their intended place.

Future advanced avionics stealth platforms under development include the Lockheed
F-22 Raptor and the F-35 (a platform of significance to the future British aircraft carrier
when built) (Figures 8.7 and 8.8, respectively), where stealth and precision are as always

Ÿ Figure 8.6 Arleigh Burke

Future Naval Stealth Platforms • 155

Ÿ Figure 8.7 F-22 Raptor

Ÿ Figure 8.8 F-35

the two vital ingredients. Second-generation stealth ships are likely to incorporate the
continuous curvature designs of later generation stealth aircraft – if they are affordable
and to budget.
156 • Stealth Warship

Future stealth ships may include smaller unmanned ship platforms, alongside
unmanned underwater and aerial hybrids, benefiting from the incorporation of stealth
to fly in niche maritime roles without conflicting with the roles of the latest generation
of stealth aircraft. Remote operation of both aircraft-and missile-based systems is now
fairly routine for the United States and its key allies, but remote operation of warships is
an unlikely scenario. What is more likely is the operation of small stealth reconnaissance-
gathering vessels controlled by a mother platform, which itself could be stealthy or
incorporate stealth features, but sitting outside of the weapons range of hostile enemy
forces. Remotely operated stealth platforms having both above- and below-water
capability may provide an extremely exciting possibility for the near future.

However, what hopefully has become clear by the end of this chapter is that the cost
of stealth is rapidly becoming unacceptably high and potentially compromises other
aspects of a nation’s overall defence budget. As a consequence it may work out cheaper
and just as effective to invest in massive guaranteed fire power and effective anti-missile
capability using latest state-of-the-art technologies, such as laser-based systems, to act
as hard-kill options as well as effective countermeasures. It has certainly left some to
question the absence of anti-ship missile capability on the Type 45, which although
intended as an anti-air destroyer is likely to find itself pitted against an anti-ship missile
at some point. Reliance upon stealth alone is not an attractive option, especially when
stealth has been compromised. However, what stealth will deliver in the future is, of
course, as yet unknown and by definition intended to be unseen!

Chapter Reflection

1. What improvements in performance are these stealth ships likely to bring in

terms of detectability, propulsion, signature management, power consumption,
combat capabilities and so on?
Future Naval Stealth Platforms • 157


1. House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts (2011), Providing the UK’s Carrier Strike
Capability. 56th Report of Session 2010–12, HC 1427. London: The Stationery Office.
2. Defense Management Journal, http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_story.
asp?id=18127 (accessed 2 March 2012).
3. Grenstad, A Rear Admiral (2007), ‘Future surface combatants in the Royal Swedish Navy’,
RUSI Defence Systems (October): 104–106.
4. Mahon, M Rear Admiral (2009), ‘US Navy surface warfare: Future requirements and
capabilities’, RUSI Defence Systems (February): 40–44.
5. Forissier, P-F Admiral (2009), ‘The French white papers goes navy blue’, RUSI Defence
Systems (February): 45–47.
6. Willett, L Dr (2010), ‘Type 26: A global role for the global combat ship?’, RUSI Defence
Systems, 13(2): 85–87.
7. Friedman, N Dr (2007), ‘The future surface combatant’, RUSI Defence Systems (October): 98–100.
8. HM Government (2010), Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and
Security Review. London: The Stationery Office.
9. ‘House of Commons Hansard – Written Answers for 16 March 2005: Column 265W’.
Hansard. House of Commons. 16 March 2005. London: The Stationery Office.
10. O’Rourke, R (2010), Navy Aegis Cruiser and Destroyer Modernization: Background and Issues
for Congress. CRS Report for Congress. Accession No. ADA 535498, 28 September. Darby,
PA: Diane Publishing.

I have only one eye, I have a right to be blind sometimes … I really do not see
the signal!
Admiral Horatio Nelson

At the Battle of Copenhagen, Nelson’s commander, Sir Hyde Parker, believed the Danish
firepower was too great, and signalled for him to break off his action. Nelson ordered
the signal be acknowledged but not repeated. Legend has it Nelson turned to his flag
captain and said the above words whilst putting a telescope to his glass eye. Nelson’s
action was approved in retrospect!

We have examined a large number of different stealth platforms, designed over

successive decades and building upon the work of others (upon the shoulders of
giants), and we have considered the basic concepts of stealth or signature reduction
from several spectral perspectives, namely, radar, infra-red and visible wavelengths.
We have introduced the revolutionary concept of ‘metamaterials’, upon which future
spectral ‘invisibility’ will crucially hinge, as well as including several other key cross
sections in lesser detail, and I have related this to the design and building of the
stealth ships themselves. We have also considered the known and anticipated stealth
ships platforms for the current decade, but of course other designs will emerge over
coming decades and from increasingly confident up-and-coming nations such as
China and India, who are rapidly building their own independent ‘high-tech’ defence
infrastructure. There is an incredible uncertainty and fluidity in warship design at the
moment, not least of which is driven by budgetary constrains.

It is hoped that the reader, once having read this introductory volume (and hopefully
read more widely also) and solved some of the simple introductory mathematical
problems set out at the end of each chapter, will now have a much clearer understanding
of the significance of stealth in modern warship platform design and the relationship
to its performance.

The full cost of embarking upon stealth and/or large warship procurement generally at
the start of the twenty-first century needs to be more tightly constrained from the start
if overspends and project cancellations are to be avoided. Some degree of restraint
needs to be in place to avoid trying to introduce too much new untested technology
Summary • 159

all in one good, and a realisation that it is the integration of this new technology which
also creates challenges of its own. The digital ‘nervous system’ of future platforms and
indeed a seamlessly integrated fleet will likely provide the wining edge over even the
best ‘stand-alone’ systems or best platforms individually. Lessons to be learnt quickly
from the Type 45 Destroyer should highlight the lack of critical capabilities, be they
anti-ship missile capability or the lack of a carrier’s strike aircraft capability for an
extended period, which should have been anticipated and appropriate provision or
‘cover’ established to remove or minimise these weaknesses and capability shortfalls.
Nonetheless, in the harsh world of maritime operations, it is incumbent upon a ship’s
crew to have this understanding of the value of stealth firmly embedded in their
thinking so that no seemingly insignificant activity undertaken on board a ship, such
as the use of a phone call home on the quarterdeck, could compromise its mission, the
overall security of the platform or the safety of its entire crew.


Queen Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carrier, United Kingdom
Builders: BVT Surface Fleet, BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, Thales Group, Babcock Marine
Preceded by: Invincible class. Succeeded by: N/A
Planned: Queen Elizabeth, Prince of Wales
Completed: 0

General Characteristics
Displacement: 65,000 t (full). Length: 280 m (920 ft)
Beam: 39 m (waterline), 70 m overall. Draught: 9 m
Decks: 13,000 m2. Speed: 25+ knots
Range: 10,000 NM (18,520 km)
Capacity: 1,450. Complement: 600
Aircraft carried: 40 (50 full load) aircraft, including 36 F-35 Lightning II, 4 airborne early-warning

Type 45 Destroyer, United Kingdom

Builders: BVT Surface Fleet
Preceded by: Type 42. Succeeded by: N/A
Planned: six. Building: one. Completed: five. Cancelled: six. Active: 3

General Characteristics
Displacement: 7,205 t light sea going, 8,092 t deep load. Length: 500 ft
Beam: 69.5 ft. Draught: 16.4 ft
Decks: 13,000 m2. Speed: 29+ knots
Range: 7,000 NM (13,000 km)
Complement: 190 (accommodation up to 235)
Propulsion: integrated electric propulsion: two Rolls-Royce/Northrop Grumman/DCN WR-21 gas
turbines (21.5 MW), two Converteam electric motors (20 MW)
Sampson multifunctional air tracking radar (Type 1045)
S1850M 3D air surveillance radar (Type 1046)
Two Raytheon X-band radar (Type 1047)
Appendix • 161

Sylver missile launcher, 48 MBDA Aster missiles (Aster 15 and Aster 30)
Two Phalanx 20 mm close-in weapons systems, one 114 mm (4.5 in.) Mk 8 gun, two Oerlikon
30 mm KCB guns on DS-30B mounts, NATO Seagnat countermeasures launchers, SSTDS
underway decoy
1 × Lynx HMA 8 helicopter or 1 × Merlin HM1 helicopter

Caio Duilio Horizon-Class Destroyer, Italy

Builder: Horizon Sass and Financier, Riva Trios and Mugging shipyards
In service: 22 September 2011
There are two ships of this class

General Characteristics
Class and type: Horizon-class frigate. Type: Destroyer
Displacement: 6,700 t (standard)
Length: 501.6 ft. Beam: 66.6 ft. Draft: 24.9 ft
Power: four diesel generators VL1716T2ME, 1,680 kW each
Propulsion: CODOG:
Two GE/Avio LM2500 gas turbine engines, 20.5 MW each
Two SEMT Pielstick 12 PA6 STC diesel engines, 4.32 MW each
Two variable pitch propellers, one bow thruster
Speed: 29 knots (gas turbine engines)
18 knots (diesel engines)
Range: 7,000 nm at 18 knots, 3,500 nm at 24 knots
Endurance: 45 days
Capacity: accommodation for 255
Complement: 24 officers, 87 petty officers, 82 sailors and 37 staff, including boarding/security
and flight
Surface search radar in E/F band: Selex RAN 30X/I (RASS)
Multifunctional 3D phased array radar in G-band: Selex SPY-790 (EMPAR) (principal sensor of
Long-Range 3D radar (D band): Thales/Selex S1850M
Secondary surveillance radar: Selex SIR R/S
Navigation and Helo deck radar (I band): Selex SPN 753(V)4 (NAVR)
Two multi-sensor target indication system NA 25X (radar and electro-optical sensor RTN-30X)
Bispectral IR detection and tracking system Sagem (Vampir) MB (IRAS)
162 • Appendix

ESM System SLQ-750 made-up of a WB (wideband) receiver and two HSFA (Superheterodyne)
Medium frequency hull sonar Thales UMS 4110CL
Electronic warfare (Nettuno 4100):
Two radar jammers
Two Oto Melara SCLAR-H decoys launcher system for chaff and flares
Anti-torpedo system SLAT:
Low frequency towed array sonar
Two acoustic decoy launchers
Armament: artillery:
Three Oto Melara 76/62 mm super rapid guns (ILDS)
Two Oto Melara Oerlikon KBA 25/80 mm guns
Two EuroTorp torpedo tubes B515/1 with semi-automatic handling system for MU90
lightweight torpedoes
PAAMS (principal anti-air missile system): six DCNS Vertical Launch System Sylver A50 modules
with 48 cells for short-range Aster 15 or medium-range Aster 30 missiles and with a further
capacity for eight S/S Teseo Mk2/A missile launchers
Aircraft carried: one Agusta Westland EH101 or one NH Industries NH90 armed with MU90
torpedoes or Marte Mk2/S A/S missiles

Forbin Horizon-Class Destroyer, France

Builder: DCNS and Thales Group, Lorient shipyard
Homeport: Toulon. Fate: on trials

General Characteristics
Class and type: Horizon-class frigates with two ships in this class
Displacement: 7050 t
Length: 152.87 m. Beam: 20.3 m. Draught: 5.4 m
2 × 31,280 HP GE/Avio LM2500 gas turbines
2 × 5,875 HP SEMT Pielstick 12 PA6 STC diesels
1 × beam propeller
2 × 4 blade propellers
Speed: 29 knots (18 knots diesel)
Range: 7,000 nm at 18 knots, 3,500 nm at 25 knots
Boats and landing craft carried: EDO, 20-seat EFRC, Hurricane 733
Appendix • 163

Capacity: 32 passengers or admiral staff

Complement: 26 officers, 110 petty officers, 38 sailors
Sensors and processing:
S-1850 LRR tri-dimensional sentry radar with IFF
ABF TUS 4110 CL hull sonar
Tugged linear antenna with Alto torpedo detector
Electronic warfare and decoys:
Radar jammer
Communication jammer
NGDS system (two decoy launchers, REM, RIR, LAD)
Two acoustic decoy launchers
PAAMS EMPAR multifunction radar on G band
Anti-air: 1 × PAAMS (48 × Aster 15 or 30 anti-air missiles in SYLVER A50 VLS)
Anti-ship: 8 × Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles
Anti-submarine: 2 × MU90 torpedo tubes
2 × Otobreda 76 mm super rapid guns
2 × 20 mm modèle F2 gun
Aircraft carried: 1 × NH90 helicopter

Visby, Sweden
Builders: Kockums
Preceded by: N/A. Succeeded by: N/A
In service: 2000. Planned: six
Completed: five. HMS Visby, HMS Helsingborg, HMS Härnösan, HMS Nyköping and HMS

General Characteristics
Displacement: 650 t. Length: 72.6 m
Beam: 10.4 m. Draught: 2.5 m
Two KaMeWa Waterjets
Four Honeywell TF 50A gas turbines, 16 MW
Two MTU Friedrichshafen 16V 2000 N90 diesel engines, total rating 2.6 MW
Speed: 40+ knots
164 • Appendix

Complement: 27 officers, 16 seamen

Sensors and processing:
Ericsson Sea Giraffe ABM 3D surveillance radar
Ceros 200 fire control radar system
Condor CS-3701 Tactical Radar Surveillance System
Hull-mounted sonar towed array sonar system
Variable depth sonar
Rheinmetall Waffe Munition MASS (Multi-Ammunition Softkill System) decoy system, which
provides radar and infra-red response simultaneously

La Fayette Frigate, France

Preceded by: Floreal-class frigate. Succeeded by: Horizon-class frigate
In service: 1996
Completed: 20

General Characteristics
Displacement: 3,200 t. Length: 125 m
Beam: 15.4 m. Draught: 4.1 m
Propulsion: four diesel SEMT Pielstick 12PA6v280 STC2, 21,000 HP (15,400 kW)
Speed: 25 knots
Range: 4,000 NM
Complement: 12 officers, 68 petty officers, 61 seamen
Sensors and processing systems:
One Air/Surface DRBV 15C sentry radar
One firing control radar for the 100 mm gun
One DRBN34 navigation radar
One DRBN34 landing radar
One Saigon ARBG, one radio interceptor
Two Dagaie Mk2 chaff launcher
One AN/SLQ-25 Nixie tugged noise maker
One Prairie-Masker noise reduction system (as used by the US Arleigh Burke class)
Weapons: one 100 mm TR automatic gun, two 20 mm modèle F2 guns
20 mm Crotale CN2 launcher (8 missiles on the launcher, 18 missiles in magazine). Provision for
16 Aster 15 missiles in vertical launchers
Eight Exocet MM40 block II missiles
One 10 t helicopter (Panther or NH90)
Appendix • 165

USS Zumwalt Destroyer, United States

Builders: Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics
Preceded by: Arleigh Burke. Succeeded by: N/A
In service: April 2013
Planned: one to three. Two now to be completed

General Characteristics
Displacement: 14,564 t. Length: 600 ft
Beam: 80.7 ft. Draught: 27.6 ft
Propulsion: two Rolls-Royce Marine rent-30 gas turbines and emergency diesel generators,
78 MW
Speed: 30.3 knots
Complement: 140
Sensors: AN/SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar (MFR) (X-band scanned array), Volume Search Radar
(VSR) (S-band scanned array)
Twenty Mk 57 VLS modules, comprising 80 missiles
Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile
Tactical Tomahawk Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC)
Two 155 mm advanced gun system
Two Mk 110 57 mm guns (CIWS)
Two SH-60 LAMPS helicopters or one MH-60R helicopter
Three MQ-8 Fire Scout UAV

Arleigh Burke, United States

Preceded by: Kidd-class guided missile destroyer. Succeeded by: Zumwalt-class guided missile

General Characteristics
Displacement 8,300–10,000 t. Length: 505–509 ft
Beam: 59 ft. Draught: 30.5 ft
Propulsion: four General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines, 75 MW
Speed: 30+ knots
Range: 4,400 nm
Complement: 23 officers, 250 seamen
Weapons: 90 cells Mk41 vertical launch systems
166 • Appendix

BGM-109 Tomahawk
RGM-44 Harpoon SSM
SM-2 Standard SAM ASuW mode
SM-3 standard ballistic missile defence missile for Aegis BMD
RUM-139 vertical launch ASROC
127 mm/54 Mk-45 lightweight gun, 127 mm/62 Mk-45 mod 4 lightweight gun
Two 20 mm Phalanx CIWS DDG51-83
Two Mark 32 triple torpedo tubes (six Mk-46 or Mk-50 torpedoes)
Aircraft installed: generally none but two SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helos Flight IIA
DDG-51/helo ASW operations Flights I and II
AAW Anti-air warfare
APAR Active phased array radar
ASM Anti-ship missile
ASRAAM Advanced short-range air-to-air missile
ASW Anti-submarine warfare
ATC Air traffic control
AWCT Adaptive water curtain technology
BAE British Aerospace
CCN Cloud condensation nuclei
CIC Combat Information Centre
CFRP Carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic
CH Chain Home
CIWS Close-in weapon system
CMS Combat Management System
CVF Carrier Vessel Future
DARPA Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency
DF Direction finding
DIRCM Directed Infra-Red Countermeasure
ECM Electronic countermeasure
EHF Extremely high frequency
ELF Extremely low frequency
EM Electromagnetic
EMALS Electro-magnetic aircraft launch system
ESM Electronic support measures
EW Electronic warfare
FBW Fly by wire
FIR Far infra-red
FJCA Future Joint Carrier Aircraft
FSS Frequency selective surface
GCS Global Combat Ship
GRP Glass-reinforced plastic
HF High frequency
HMWHS Heavily mechanised weapons handling system
HTS High-temperature superconductor
IFEP Integrated full electric propulsion
IRAM Infra-red absorbent material
168 • Glossary

IRCS Infra-red cross section

IRS Infra-red signature
JSF Joint Strike Fighter
LC Liquid crystal
LCS Littoral combat ship
LF Low frequency
LOT Low observable technology
MCM Mine countermeasure
MDR Maximum detection range
MF Medium frequency
MIR Middle infra-red
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MOD Ministry of Defence
NIR Near infra-red
PBG Photonic band gap
PRF Pulse repetition frequency
RADAR Radio aid for detection and ranging
RAF Royal Air Force
RAM Radar absorbent material
RAP Radar absorbent paint
RASH Radar absorbent sheeting
RCS Radar cross section
RF Radio frequency
RN Royal Navy
SAM Surface-to-air missile
SDR Strategic Defence Review
SDSR Strategic Defence and Security Review
SHF Super high frequency
SONAR Sound navigation and ranging
STOVL Short take-off and vertical landing
UAV Unmanned aerial vehicle
UHF Ultra high frequency
ULF Ultra low frequency
USAF United States Air Force
UUV Unmanned underwater vehicle
VHF Very high frequency
VLF Very low frequency
VLS Vertical launch seawolf
XST Experimental Survivable Testbed

Chapter 1
Q3. 6.5 GHz.
Q4. 8.8 mm.
Q5. 1 km.
Q6. 92.1 km.
Q7. 19 km.

Chapter 2
Q1. c = 0.2.
Q4. E = 1.2 MV m−1.
Q5. 225 nm.

Chapter 3
Q1. 316.4 nm.
Q2. 400 nm.
Q3. λ/10.
Q4. (a) 4 and (b) 6.54º.

Chapter 4
Q3. 16:30.
Q4. (a) 9.8 μm, (b) 404.8 W, (c) 283.97 K and (d) 10.21 μm.
Q5. Ib = It.
Q6. 0.57 Wm−2.
Q8. A = T/3.

Chapter 5
Q3. E = 7.56 x 10−4 V.
Q4. (a) 4π x 10−11 H m−1, (b) 8π x 10−11 H and (c) E = 64π x 10−11 V.
Q5. dE/dV = μ0μrHL, so H = 1/(74.74π) H.

Figure I.1 Department of Defence.

Chapter 1
Figure 1.6 Combat Index, LLC.
Figure 1.8 Combat Index, LLC.
Figure 1.9 Combat Index, LLC.
Figure 1.10 Combat Index, LLC.
Figure 1.16 Combat Index, LLC.
Figure 1.17 Combat Index, LLC.
Figure 1.18 Combat Index, LLC.
Figure 1.19 Combat Index, LLC.

Chapter 3
Figure 3.4 Purdue University School of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Figure 3.5 www.williamson-labs.com/ltoc/ship-stealth.htm.

Chapter 7
Figure 7.17 http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=34656 File: 060506-N-4021H-122.
jpg. US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Damien Horvath. This file is a work
of a sailor or employee of the US Navy, taken or made during the course of the person’s
official duties. As a work of the US federal government, the image is in the public

Chapter 8
Figure 8.4 US Navy photo illustration/released. http://www.navy.mil/view_single.
Figure 8.7 Combat Index, LLC.
Figure 8.8 Combat Index, LLC.

All other, non-credited images have been sourced from the public domain.

A Brenna, Ursula, 144

A-12 Oxcart, 8 Burke, Arleigh, 154
Abrams tank, 44, 45 Burnett, Anne, 59
Absorption filters, 75 Burnett, Robert, 59
Accurate Automation Corporation, 53 Butterlflies, 49
Acoustic noise, 95 Bykov, 58
environmental factors, 97–98
Acoustic threat and other signatures, 95
Caio Duilio Horizon-Class Destroyer, 161–162
Active sonar, 98–99
Cameron, David, 146
principle of, 98
Camouflage, 140
Active ‘cloaking’ plasma shields, 52
active, 42
Advanced short-range air-to-air missiles
face paints, 38
(ASRAAM), 67–68
infra-red electronic, 44
Aegis cruisers, 154
origins of, 36–50
Agility, of United Kingdom, 127–128
real-time adaptive, 44
AIM-9 Sidewinder, 66
Carrier Vessel Future (CVF) project, see Queen
Almirante Cochrane (FF-05), 120
Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carrier
Al Riyadh-class ships, of Saudi Arabia, 136
CATOBAR system, 147, 149
American electromagnetic aircraft launch
Cavitation, 102–103
system (EMALS), 149
Chain Home, 1, 2
Andrea Doria, 129
Charles S. Sperry (DD-697), USS, 34, 35
Anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM), 63
China’s Yantai, 138–139
Argus, HMS, 33, 34, 35
Chinese ‘Nantsin’ radar, 27
Arleigh Burke, 154–155, 165–166
Cholesteric liquid crystals, 46
ASDIC technology, 97
Clarke, Arthur C, 110
Aster missiles, 125
Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), 111
Astrakhan, of Russia, 133
Combat Management System (CMS), 120
Athwartship coil, 89
Combined diesel-electric and gas (CODLAG)
Atmospheric sparkling, 74
propulsion system, 120
Atwater, Harry, 62
Committee of Imperial Defence, 1
Common anti-air modular missile (CAMM), 151
B Contrast formula, 40
Bacon, Richard, 144 Copper-cabled systems, 91
Band, Jonathan, 143 Corner reflector, 24
Behm, Alexander, 96 Cottesmore, HMS, 94
Biologically inspired design, 109–111 Cubist patterns, 40, 41
Bioluminescence, 104–105 Cuttlefish, 47, 48
Black and white contrast in warship, 32
Black-and-white palette, 70 D
Black-and-white stripes in warship, 34 Dallenbach layer, 23
‘Boundary layer’, 106 Daring (D32), HMS, 121, 122, 123, 124, 126
Boyle, Robert William, 97 Daring class, see Type 45 Destroyer
Braunschweig-class corvette, of Germany, Dazzle camouflage, 33, 35, 41, 42
137–138 and first world war, 30–36
172 • Index

Dazzle painting, 33 La Fayette Frigate, 164

D-band Thales S1850M, 129 modern stealth ships of, 134–136
DD(X) Zumwalt, US Navy, 152 Frequency selective surfaces (FSS), 115
Degaussing coils, 90 Future acoustic technology, 103–104
Degaussing Ships’ Hulls, 86 Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA), 144
Directed Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM),76 Future naval stealth platforms, 141
Direction finding (DF), 1 Future surface combatant (FSC) platforms,
Eldridge, 63 G
Electric field, strength of, 46 German air force, 31
Electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, 69, 4, 5 German Heinkel He 111s, 3, 4
Electromagnetic (EM) waves, 52 Germany’s Braunschweig-class corvette,
ELF signature, see Extremely low-frequency 137–138
(ELF) signature Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), 82, 92
Emissions control policy, 111 Glint, 4, 33, 41
EML Admiral Cowan, 93 Goodeve, Charles, 86
Endara, Guillermo, 18 Göring, Reich Marshal Hermann, 6
European Aeronautic Defence and Space Grumman, Northrop, 153–154
(EADS), 44
Experimental Survivable Testbed (XST) H
programme, 10 Hammond, Philip, 147
Extraordinary acoustic screening (EAS), 103 Have Blue aircraft, 15–17
Extremely low-frequency (ELF) signature, 108 ‘Have Blue’ design, 9, 15
Heat-seeking missiles, 68
F Highly mechanised weapons handling system
F-15 Eagle, 53 (HMWHS), 146
F-22 Raptor, 155 High-temperature superconducting
F-35B Lightning, 143, 144, 146–147 (HTS), 91
F-35 Lightning, 19, 122, 144, 154 Hopkins, Evan, 86
F-117A Nighthawk, 9, 32 Horizon-class frigate Caio Duilio (D554), 128
Face paints of camouflage, 38 Horten, Reimar, 6
‘Faceting’, 11 Horten, Walter, 6
False colour palette, 71 Horton H. IX designs, 7
Far infra-red (FIR), 72 Hughes AIM-4 Falcon, 66
Fessenden, Reginald, 96 Hydroacoustics, 96
Field-emission scanning electron microscope
image, 61 I
‘Fixed’ dazzle camouflage patterns, 36 I-band SPN 753(V)4, 129
Flux density, 83 Ideopsis similis butterflies, 48
‘Fog of war’, 32, 37 Incident radar wave, 22
Forbin (D620), 130 India, modern stealth ships of, 132
Forbin Horizon-Class Destroyer, 162–163 INS Kolkata, 132
Forecastle induced–quarterdeck induced (FI-QI) Shivalik-class frigates, 132
coils, 88 Indium tin oxide (ITO), 19
Forecastle permanent–quarterdeck permanent Infra-red, 66
(FP-QP) coils, 88 emission, 73
Formidable-class frigate, of Singapore, 136–137 laws of emission, 78–79
France Infra-red absorbing materials (IRAM), 75
Forbin Horizon-Class Destroyer, 162–163 Infra-red cross section (IRCS), 69
French destroyer variant, 130 contributors, 71
Index • 173

Infra-red electronic camouflage, 44 Marine bioluminescence, 105

Infra-red Heat Reduction, 66 Martin, Kelly, 6
Infra-red signature (IRS), 69 Materials, of radar, 19
Infrasonic frequencies, 96 Maximum Detection Range (MDR), 13–19
INS Kolkata, of India, 132 Maxwell, James Clerk, 11
Integrated electric propulsion (IEP), 127 Metamaterials, 54
Integrated full electric propulsion (IFEP), 127 N-(4-Methoxybenzylidene)-4-butylaniline
Interference theory, 23 (MBBA), 46
‘Iron ball’ paint, 19 Micro air vehicles (MAVs), 44
Italian destroyer variant, 128–129 Middle infra-red (MIR), 68
Italy’s Caio Duilio Horizon-Class Destroyer, Middleton, HMS, 94
161–162 Military sonar, 99
Mine countermeasure (MCM) sonar, 101
J Modern stealth ships, 114
Johnson, Clarence, 8 Agility, of United Kingdom, 127–128
Al Riyadh-class ships, of Saudi Arabia, 136
K Astrakhan, of Russia, 133
Keldysh Research Centre, 52–53 Braunschweig-class corvette, of Germany,
Kent, HMS (far infra-red), 72 137–138
‘Khaki’, soldier’s uniform in, 32, 37 Formidable-class frigate, of Singapore,
Kirov, 133 136–137
Kirtland Air Force Base (AFB), 53 French destroyer variant, 130
Koroteyev, Anatoliy, 52–53 INS Kolkata, of India, 132
Krauss, Thomas, 58 Italian destroyer variant, 128–129
La Fayette class, of France, 134–136
L M80 Stiletto, of United States of America,
La Fayette class, of France, 134–136, 164
Laird, Cammell, 148
PAAMS, of United Kingdom, 125–126
Laser area defence system (LADS), 110–111
Shivalik-class frigates, of India, 132
Likely future cross sections, 108–109
Type 23 Frigate, of United Kingdom,
‘Lines of flux’, 83
‘Lines of force’, 83
Type 45 Destroyer, of United Kingdom,
Liquid crystal displays (LCD) electronic
products, 46
Visby stealth corvette, of Sweden,
Lockheed ‘Skunk Works’, 8, 10–11, 18
Long-range 3D radar, 129
Yantai, of China, 138–139
Los Alamos National Laboratories, 53
Morpho, 47, 48
Lossy layer, 23
Multiple RAM layers, 19
‘Lotus effect’, 109–110
Lovell, Jim, 104
Low-frequency active sonar (LFAS), 101 N
Nanoperm, 85
M Nanorods, 59, 60
M80 Stiletto, of United States of America, Nano-structured zinc oxide replica wing
130–132 structures, 48
Magnetic anomaly detection (MAD), 89 ‘Nantsin’ radar, 27
Magnetic field of bar magnet, 83 Near infra-red (NIR), 70
Magnetic permeability, 56 vegetation in, 38–39
Magnetic signature, 82–95 wavelengths, 59
Magnetic stealth, 82–87 Negative refractive index, 57
Main coil (M), 87 Nilsson, John, 153
174 • Index

NIRATAM, 77 River Dart taken in visible, near infra-red and

Norfolk, HMS, 120 thermal bands in autumn, 38
RMS Mauretania, 36
O RMS Olympic, 36
One-dimensional (1D) photonic crystals, 57 Roach motel, 11
Opal, 57 Royal Academy of Arts, 31
Optical filters, 75 Russell, Philip St John, 58
Optical glint, 41 Russia’s Astrakhan, 133
Optical illusions, creation of, 31
Optical metamaterials, 59–64 S
Optoelectronic Research Centre (ORC), 58 Sajeey, John, 58
Overholser, Denys, 12 Salisbury screen, 21
Sandia National Laboratories, 53
P Sandown, HMS, 93
PAAMS components, of United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s Al Riyadh-class ships, 136
125–126 Scale invariance, 58
Passive sonar, 99–100 Scherrer, Dick, 10
Peacock feather, 20, 21 Schroeder, Bill, 12
Pendry, John, 60 Schurig, David, 62
Philadelphia Experiment, 63 Scintillation, 74
Photonic band gap (PBG), 56 Sea Shadow, 24, 25
nanostructures, 47 Shalaev, Vladimir, 59
Photonic crystals, 54, 56 Shivalik-class frigates, of India, 132
‘Plasmons’, 59 Short take-off and vertical landing
Prince of Wales, HMS, 142 (STOVL), 143
‘Project Harvey’, 10 Shuttle heat tiles, in U.S., 7, 8
Project Yehudi, 43 Singapore’s Formidable-class frigate,
Pulse delay ranging, of radar, 4, 5 136–137
Q Smith, David, 62
Smoke, 32
Queen Elizabeth, HMS, 142, 148–149
Soldier’s uniform, 37
Queen Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carrier, 142, 160
Sonar, 95
Quorn, HMS, 94
Sonar comparison, 101–102
R Sophisticated submarine camouflage
Radar, 1 schemes, development of, 49
metamaterials, 54–59 Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles
and weapons systems, 146 (SAMs), 8
Radar absorbent material (RAM), 6 SPIRITS, 77
Radar absorbent paint (RAP), 17 Splinter camouflage, 37
Radar cross section (RCS), 10 SR-71, 8–11, 33
Radio-frequency (RF) electric pulse, 52 SS Industry, 31
RAMs, 19 Stealth aircraft, 33
Raven, Alan, 31 Stefan–Boltzmann constant, 79
Rayleigh, Baron, 57 Stennis, John C., 143
Rayleigh, Lord, 57 Stewart, James, 10
‘Razzle Dazzle’, 33 STOVL F-35B Lightning II variant, 144
Real-time adaptive camouflage, 44 Strategic Defence and Security Review
Reflected radar wave, 22 (SDSR), 142
Reinitzer, Friedrich, 46 Strategic Defence Review (SDR), 144
Richardson, Lewis, 96 Strutt, John William, 57
Index • 175

Sub-surface very low frequency (VLF) DD(X) Zumwalt, US Navy, 152

imaging, 109 M80 Stiletto, 130–132
Sukhoi Su-27 IB fighter-bomber, 53 modern stealth ships of, 130
Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) Zumwalt Destroyer, USS, 165
sensors, 58 US adaptive water curtain technology
Swallowtail butterfly, thermal image of, 49 (AWCT), 62–63
Swedish Navy’s Visby stealth corvette, US Defense Advanced Research Projects
114–119, 163–164 Agency (DARPA), 8
US Navy aircraft carrier, 143
T US Navy Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King
Tesla, Nikola, 84 helicopter, 102
Thales Sonar 2087, 101
Thermal imaging cameras (TICs), 70 V
Thornycroft, Vosper, 93 Vegetation in the near infra-red, 38–39
Titanic disaster of 1912, 96 Vertical launch seawolf (VLS), 151
Tizard, Henry, 1 Victory, HMS, 20
Transmission stop band, 57 Vietnam War, 66
Transparent monoplane, 31 Visby, 44, 163–164
Type 23 Frigate, of United Kingdom, 119–120 Visby stealth corvette, 41, 42, 44, 45
Type 26 frigate, 151 of Swedish Navy, 114–119
Type 45 Destroyer, 117, 160–161 Visibility
power distribution system of, 122 camouflage, origins of, 36–50
of United Kingdom, 121–125 dazzle camouflage and First World
War, 30–36
U2 aircraft, 33 W
Ufimtsev, Pyotr, 12 Waggonfabrik, Gothaer, 6
UK FSC /Type 26 Frigate, 149–151 Wake effects, 105–108
Ultrasonic frequencies, 96 Warships, 82
Ultraviolet (UV) spectrum, 108 Watson-Watt, Robert, 1, 3
‘Underwater acoustics’, 96 Weapons and systems, 151
Underwater vehicle (UUV), 151 Wilkinson, Lt Norman, 30–31, 35
Unidentifed flying objects (UFOs), 18 WR21 complex cycle gas turbine, 121–122
Uniform of soldiers, 37 Yablonovitch, 58
United Kingdom
Agility, 127–128 Y
modern stealth ships of, 119 Yablonovitch, Eli, 58
PAAMS components, 125–126 Yantai, of China, 138–139
Queen Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carrier, 160 Yarrow Shipbuilders Limited, 94
Type 23 Frigate, 119–120
Type 45 Destroyer, 121–125 Z
Type 45 Destroyer, 160–161 Zumwalt, Elmo, 152
United States Air Force (USAF), 8 Zumwalt Destroyer, USS, 165
United States of America Zumwalt infrastructure, 153
Arleigh Burke, 165–166 Z zone, 87