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View Full Version : Zebra stripes - stealth technology?



Cougar
2013-Feb-02, 09:41 PM
The stealth aircraft appear to acquire their stealth mainly through oddly angled surfaces to defeat enemy radars. I'd think also "striping" the surfaces in some fashion would enhance the effect to some appreciable degree. A zebra pattern is one that's been evolutionarily tested. :)

Delvo
2013-Feb-03, 03:38 AM
Zebra stripes only blend in with the background when the background is other zebras. Against most otherbackgrounds, they actually stand out. Planes don't fly in thick crowds of other planes. But aside from that, even if the circumstances were more comparable, trying to avoid being detected/tracked requires working by different rules in different frequency ranges, and radar, optical, and infrared are all different frequencies.

trinitree88
2013-Feb-03, 04:20 AM
The stealth aircraft appear to acquire their stealth mainly through oddly angled surfaces to defeat enemy radars. I'd think also "striping" the surfaces in some fashion would enhance the effect to some appreciable degree. A zebra pattern is one that's been evolutionarily tested. :)

Actually, it's the coatings and materials science that makes the bigger difference. Don't use metals, use graphite composites for airframes, then coat them with coatings of rubber paint with ceramic beads in it........converts radar to heat. The angled surfaces don't hurt, but theres a lot more to it.....pete

SkepticJ
2013-Feb-03, 05:19 AM
Faceted surfaces for stealth is early '80s tech, back when computers weren't powerful enough to handle the design of the curved surfaces of the B-2, F-22, F-35, various drone designs . . .

The F-117 is a retired antique.

Facets are only still used on ships above the water-line, which of course don't have to be very aerodynamic, because facets are cheaper to manufacture and provide more usable space inside the ships.

hoozi
2013-Feb-03, 05:34 AM
It's been done.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzle_camouflage

JCoyote
2013-Feb-03, 02:54 PM
I do remember something about old, corrugated metal bodied aircraft giving crazy radar readings, that would be like that.

cjl
2013-Feb-04, 06:23 PM
Actually, it's the coatings and materials science that makes the bigger difference. Don't use metals, use graphite composites for airframes, then coat them with coatings of rubber paint with ceramic beads in it........converts radar to heat. The angled surfaces don't hurt, but theres a lot more to it.....pete

Actually, it's the other way around. Coatings help, but the shape itself is responsible for the vast majority of the "stealthiness" of any given aircraft. As SkepticJ said, the modern shapes are curved, rather than faceted, since we have the computer power to model radar propagation and reflection off of much more complex surfaces than we had when stealth technology was first developed, but it is still primarily the shape that determines how well an object can hide from radar.

publiusr
2013-Feb-04, 11:55 PM
Reminds me a little more of dazzle camo. If you don't know which way is forward, you might miss.

Antice
2013-Feb-05, 12:52 AM
Reminds me a little more of dazzle camo. If you don't know which way is forward, you might miss.

Well... it's not actually disrupting your ability to aim on it's own, nor does it prevent an observer to notice what way you are going, what it does do is force you to see shapes that are not real. thereby disguising the real profile of the ship, causing identification to become all that much harder. but that is not how zebras use it, and it's not what i think they meant to achieve with it back then either. an expert lookout would know how to look past the dazzling paintjob and see the ship for what it is.

What does happen tho is that individual targets appears to merge together when they move around in a fleet/flock.
Zebras that are chased run in a semi random zig zag pattern. this causes every individuals path to cross the path of many other individuals, thus making it harder for the predator to track single individuals to chase them down. each crossing forces the predator to guess what way the target is moving. (they seem to merge, then split up again in the eyes of the predator).
If the predator guesses wrong then there won't be any dinner.

A zebra that strays too far out from the others otoh, is easy pickings. the big cat's just can't miss such an obvious target.
Smart tacticians would use the ships in the same manner, thus making it an effective type of camo for merchantmen in concoys. the merchantmen would try to cross paths as often as possible, thus making it harder for enemy subs to track them effectively enough to fire on them with any high degree of accuracy. unfortunately modern electronics aren't that easy to fool into missing by purely visual illusions, so dazzle is uselesss nowadays.

publiusr
2013-Feb-09, 08:42 PM
Well, we have metamaterial cloaks and even ways to deal with heat: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/how-to-treat-heat-like-light-0111.html

I wonder if decoys may still be useful. Dazzle may make a comeback in a form unknown to us now.

Antice
2013-Feb-15, 08:23 PM
Well, we have metamaterial cloaks and even ways to deal with heat: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/how-to-treat-heat-like-light-0111.html

I wonder if decoys may still be useful. Dazzle may make a comeback in a form unknown to us now.

decoys are extreemely useful as it is today. partly because they are dirt cheap compared to loosing an important weapons platform.
I'd say that if Dazzle makes a comeback, it will probably be in the air and into space. and it will probably employ decoys as well to increase the chance that any one shot hit's something easily replaceable, and of low value rather than an important one with teeth.
We are in a process where we are seeing armor make a comeback again. integrated combat suits are the order of the day now, and they will only become more and more sophisticated as time moves on and ever more abilities are crammed into them.

Future ground combat may well become more like a medieval type slugfest where ranges become ever shorter due to improved armors capability of either hiding you, disrupting long range aim, and absorbing more and more direct damage. with directed energy weapons quickly becoming more and more viable as well, we may actually enter a situation where air superiority becomes impossible to hold as well. giving ground units the edge over flying units.

starcanuck64
2013-Feb-15, 09:27 PM
Faceted surfaces for stealth is early '80s tech, back when computers weren't powerful enough to handle the design of the curved surfaces of the B-2, F-22, F-35, various drone designs . . .

The F-117 is a retired antique.

Facets are only still used on ships above the water-line, which of course don't have to be very aerodynamic, because facets are cheaper to manufacture and provide more usable space inside the ships.

The design of the F-117 started in the 1970s so the computers were even less capable, which is why they had to determine the radar cross section of individual facets then combine them into an airframe. By the mid 1980s computers had become powerful enough to compute the radar cross section of blended surfaces that went into the B-2.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Have_Blue

It's a cool story, the initial discovery that you could determine the radar cross section of objects and make shapes that would lower it was discovered by a Soviet scientist, Petr Ufimtsev and an engineer at Lockheed, Deny Overholser, got a hold of the paper and turned it into an algorithm that could compute the RCS.

Edit- It's a little more complex than that apparently, it's still a cool story.

JohnD
2013-Feb-15, 10:26 PM
Zebra stripes en masse may confuse feline predators, but there is a lot of work that shows that another predator altogether is inhibited by the stripes.
Tsetse flies.
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/02/mystery-of-zebras-stripes-finall.html

John