This Revolutionary Stealth Drone Is Practically Invisible

Monday, 18 December 2017 - 10:41AM
Monday, 18 December 2017 - 10:41AM
This Revolutionary Stealth Drone Is Practically Invisible
< >
The problem with stealth aircraft is that they're very rarely completely stealthy.

Sure, these planes can hide under certain circumstances, but anyone with a pair of binoculars who knows what to look for will be able to spot one approaching.

The problem with stealth technology, as with camouflage in general, is that it stops being effective the moment you start moving. In the case of stealth planes, the crafts themselves are all but invisible when traveling in a straight line, but any attempt to alter course involves moving the plane's rudders, which stand out the moment they're shifting and turning independent of the rest of the plane.

BAE Systems may have found a solution to this problem. The company has created a stealth drone that will genuinely disappear when launched into the air, no matter how much it turns and banks while moving.

The solution? Because moving parts are the problem with stealth, the MAGMA drone simply doesn't have any—although it's worth pointing out that this is easier said than done.



The challenge with removing turning flaps and rudders from a plane is that these have traditionally been the method that pretty much all aircraft have used for steering since human flight was first invented. In order to achieve safe, controllable flight without flaps, BAE has essentially had to invent a brand new method of steering for planes.

MAGMA steers through the air by use of a "blown air" system within the drone that shifts where air moves to when traveling past the plane. Air moves through the engine on paths designated by the plane, pushing air to the far reaches of the wings to maintain consistent lift.

Air blowers are also used to ensure that the flight is stable, and by shifting where the air ends up, the drone can turn while mid-flight, without having to shift any flaps that might give away its location to anyone watching out for approaching aircraft.

What's particularly interesting about this invention is its application for air travel as a whole. The technology that allows this plane to become invisible when in the air can also be applied to other forms of aircraft, and as this system is a lot less bulky, this could lead to significantly lighter planes that have greater stability in the air.

Whether this technology will be applied to mass-market commercial passenger flights any time soon remains to be seen, although as long as BAE has a monopoly on their flight system, the company will probably keep it for internal use on military aircraft.

Eventually, though, we might have much smoother air journeys to look forward to, which, considering that flight is about to get faster and cheaper as well, should mean that traveling the world will become increasingly appealing to even those who are trapped in the cheap seats.
Science
NASA