Aviation Week & Space Technology

Podcast: How Stealth Technology Changed the World

Nov 02, 2017

Aviation Week editors sat down with John Griffin, a member of the “Pioneers of Stealth.” The pioneers are group of engineers, contractors and members of the military who worked on stealth programs from 1970s to the first flight of the B-2 in the late 1990s and continue to meet to share stories about the early days of the technology.

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Discuss this Video 7

on Nov 3, 2017

I find it interesting that Ben Rich and the Skunkworks were never specifically mentioned throughout this video. It cannot be disputed that the majority of the breakthroughs in stealth technology and the actual application of these technologies came from these people.

on Nov 6, 2017

Agreed. According to Ben Rich's book, the start was in April 1975 when a 36 year old engineer named Denys Overholser presented to him the "rosetta stone breakthrough of stealth technology"
Overholser's work was based on a 1966 paper by Russian scientist Pyotr Ufimtsev.

on Nov 3, 2017

Is somebody chewing gum during this? very annoying. I was a part of the B-2 program 1st at Boeing then Northrop from late 80's to early 90's, still my favorite program to date. but that's about all I can say or as they say..well you know ;)

on Nov 3, 2017

I sometimes wonder what the state of military aviation would look like today if stealth had not been conceived. Would we have seen more proliferation/variation of different concepts? More canards, more STOL, more super-maneuverability? More diversity of types? I think that would be an interesting discussion.

on Nov 3, 2017

Whilst it's undeniable that Rich & the Skunkworks led the effort by the west to make stealth airframes viable, it's a shame the contributions by both the Canadians and British weren't mentioned properly and also the parallel efforts by the Russsians including an operational plasma stealth platform which if it had been developed further could've produced full multispectrum 'spoofing' that would make current 5th gen tech look rather primtive

on Nov 3, 2017

Interesting to see the photo of the Lockheed XST, which we called the "excess tea". I designed the wing leading edges and the flight test nose, and because of a shop strike, I got to spend some time out of town working 18 hours a day, seven days a week. The skunk works is known for it's products, but is not known for it's real secret, it's working arrangement - a very few people. For example, the U-2 was designed by a total of 25 designers. From first sketch to first flight was 7 months. This principle of using a minimum of designers was continued on thru all subsequent vehicles. For example, the blackbird used 5 designers on the fuselage, 8 on the wing, 3 of us on the wing edges and fuselage chines, 3 on the nacelles. Overall security was unbelievably tight. In this day of everyone having an e-mail at work I doubt if there will ever again be a truly black project.

on Nov 3, 2017

It is interesting to ponder rm442's contention that the skunk work's real secret was was the ability to design these breakthrough aircraft with a minimum of highly dedicated people. This obviously vastly simplifies the task of maintaining a high degree of security. Clearly, security on later, more complex stealth programs, employing large work forces, has contributed mightily to their out-of-control costs.

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