How does Stealth technology work?

FILE PHOTO — The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The goal of stealth technology is to make an airplane invisible to radar. There are two different ways to create invisibility:
The airplane can be shaped so that any radar signals it reflects are reflected away from the radar equipment.
The airplane can be covered in materials that absorb radar signals.
Most conventional aircraft have a rounded shape. This shape makes them aerodynamic, but it also creates a very efficient radar reflector. The round shape means that no matter where the radar signal hits the plane, some of the signal gets reflected back:
A stealth aircraft, on the other hand, is made up of completely flat surfaces and very sharp edges. When a radar signal hits a stealth plane, the signal reflects away at an angle.
In addition, surfaces on a stealth aircraft can be treated so they absorb radar energy as well. The overall result is that a stealth aircraft like an F-117A can have the radar signature of a small bird rather than an airplane. The only exception is when the plane banks — there will often be a moment when one of the panels of the plane will perfectly reflect a burst of radar energy back to the antenna.

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