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Stealth Stars and Stripes
Status: Real
image This image of a Stealth fighter (an F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter, to be accurate) decorated with the Stars and Stripes has been circulating around. At first I suspected it had been photoshopped. After all, painting a Stealth Fighter with bright colors would seem to defeat its purpose. But it's real. Some googling revealed that this Stars-and-Striped Stealth was featured at an Edwards Air Force Base Airshow in 2005 (scroll down almost to the bottom of the page to find it). A caption indicates that "This aircraft has completed its' flight test career and will be relocated to Holloman AFB." The photo was taken by Fred Bruenjes, from whom prints can be bought. Below is a picture of the same plane flying with a few other planes from the show.
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Photos/Videos
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 18, 2006


That's got to be the worst camouflage job in history.
Posted by Big Gary, on another quail hunt  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Sat Feb 18, 2006  at  04:47 PM
Just resonable steps to avoid "friendly" fire.
Posted by Peter  on  Sat Feb 18, 2006  at  07:30 PM
if what made 'stealth' planes 'stealth' was their appearance, wouldn't they normally be painted blue?

I always assumed that there was something about their shape, the altitudes they fly at, and other radar-avoiding technologies they use that made them stealth. not the paint job.

:eyeroll:
Posted by katey  on  Sat Feb 18, 2006  at  08:12 PM
Well the military gets a lot of money, so I'm sure they could afford a temporary paint job for an air show to inspire patriotism.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Sat Feb 18, 2006  at  08:39 PM
Well, a 'stealth' fighter (or bomber for that matter) relies on radar masking. It's a combination of the shape of the plane - having sharp angles causes radar signals to bounce off 'whole' rather than scatter and be detected, and radar-absorbing materials in the hull of it. The paint will probably be removed before any active duty happens, as I'm certain it has more of a radar profile than the military would like to see. They likely don't actually have 'paint' per se, but rather some sort of coating to protect the stealthing materials from the elements without compromising the radar profile.

These days, being able to *see* a plane does you very little good in combat - they just fly too fast to fire at without a radar lock. The shooting down of the stealth fighter that *did* happen was basically a stroke of luck the equivalent of winning the lottery. Interestingly enough, there was footage of people cavorting upon the wreckage, taking home bits of it. According to Air Force spolespeople, the radar-absorbing materials used are *highly* carcinogenic, and they were saying it'd be a miracle if any of the people shown were alive five years later...

Oh, and for bad camoflauge, look at Project Zebra: painting the hulls of battleships with confusing angular stripes, makign it hard to tell what direction they were going, making torpedo fire trickier.
Posted by Bobcat  on  Sun Feb 19, 2006  at  02:48 AM
Yes, the F-117s use a wide range of techniques to avoid radar detection. Much of it involves the shape of the aircraft, muting the engines' heat signature, making all antennae and its payload internal, et cetera. But it also has a special metallic paint coating that's supposed to convert some radar waves into other forms of energy. If the colourful paint on the airplane in the pictures is the same type of paint, then I don't think it would lose any of it's stealth ability (aside from being glaringly obvious to eyesight, that is). The visual aspect isn't really a concern as far as the stealth of the airplanes goes, though.

I suspect, however, that the airplane was just painted up with some ordinary paint, so that it will look pretty at airshows. This is done often enough; just look at the F-16 in the picture with the F-117.

What always made me wonder, though, was why it's designated as a fighter aircraft. Shouldn't it be a bomber, or at least a ground attack airplane? All I can figure is that's it was intended as some sort of misdirection, sort of a hoax to confuse spies.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Sun Feb 19, 2006  at  01:24 PM
Wikipedia conjectures it was given the "F" designation to attract interest from Air Force brass and politicians. It also references a supposed quote from a design engineer stating the "F" was used to attract a better breed of test pilot to fly the tricky new design.
Posted by Travis Finucane  in  Santa Cruz, CA  on  Mon Feb 20, 2006  at  01:06 PM
"if what made 'stealth' planes 'stealth' was their appearance, wouldn't they normally be painted blue?

I always assumed that there was something about their shape, the altitudes they fly at, and other radar-avoiding technologies they use that made them stealth. not the paint job."

Turns out a shade of grey is much more useful in this aspect. It is why all our fighters are painted as such. While looking up on a clear day, the sky is blue, looking horizontally through haze and clouds grey is much better.

"Well the military gets a lot of money, so I'm sure they could afford a temporary paint job for an air show to inspire patriotism."

Paint is used for corrosion control as well. If this bird was scheduled for an air show, but was about to be retired and still needed a new paint job to prevent corrosion, why not have some fun with it? grin

"The paint will probably be removed before any active duty happens..."

It was on its way out. Went out in style though...

"These days, being able to *see* a plane does you very little good in combat - they just fly too fast to fire at without a radar lock."

Wow, couldn't disagree with you more. If you can see a plane, you can shoot it down in most cases. This is why the plane is black (it flew exclusively at night for combat missions).

"Oh, and for bad camoflauge, look at Project Zebra: painting the hulls of battleships with confusing angular stripes, makign it hard to tell what direction they were going, making torpedo fire trickier."

I would call that a USEFUL paint job. grin

"I suspect, however, that the airplane was just painted up with some ordinary paint, so that it will look pretty at airshows. This is done often enough; just look at the F-16 in the picture with the F-117."

The F-16 is painted in a scheme to make it highly visible during testing (you don't want to be testing a bomb and the cameraman can't find the &$%#ing airplane). This is common at Edwards and other test sites.

"What always made me wonder, though, was why it's designated as a fighter aircraft. Shouldn't it be a bomber, or at least a ground attack airplane? All I can figure is that's it was intended as some sort of misdirection, sort of a hoax to confuse spies."

Though the Air Force has never really come clean, it was likely an attempt to get by the treaties we made with the USSR. When we made a new bomber, we had to tell them. By naming it as a fighter, well...
Posted by S H  on  Sun Dec 09, 2007  at  12:25 PM
I'm never ceased to be surprised by the number of posters who are aliterate. Before you complain about my spelling, look up the word in a good dictionary.

As the story said, the plane was about to be retired, so why not have fun with the repainting? As for using blue as a stealth color, the F-117 was primarily a night bomber so black makes sense. Also the paint used is a radar absorbing paint and it comes in a variety of colors as long as it
Posted by Recce1  in  Omaha, NE  on  Sat Dec 15, 2007  at  12:10 AM
Aliterate? LOL
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Mon Dec 17, 2007  at  11:48 AM
cool smile
The paint usually used on some of these planes is very inexpensive and easily washes off... well not that easily. The normal every day public wouldnt have their cars painted with this particular type of paint.
Some squadrons do use more expensive paint, VX9 and a few others out there.
I remember trying to wash off some desert cammo on some F14s just over 10 years ago and it sucked!
Compared to real paint though, it was relatively easy.
I think the paint was a corn starch based paint so it was harmless to the environment.
Posted by The Vlad  in  NorCal  on  Tue May 13, 2008  at  02:59 PM
Charybdis, I take it you didn't look up the word aliterate. You'll have to find a decent dictionary like the Princeton University Unabridged Dictionary.

Aliterate means a person who can read and write but chooses not to learn from what he or she reads. So is it those who think themselves so literate are really semi-illiterate when they call those who use the word aliterate illiterate and am I being alliterate?

Now don't hurt your brain Charybdis as I did mine. Have a little fun with the words and the form of writing.
Posted by Recce1  in  Omaha, NE  on  Sun May 15, 2011  at  03:28 AM
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