BOOM! That was the sound a B-17 crew heard when an anti-aircraft shell exploded directly in front of their heavily armored plane. The crew of 10 rushed to the cockpit fearing the worst. The pilot relayed that engine two was completely destroyed and engine four was severally damaged; the news was devastating because this left them open for a fighter to sweep in and finish them off. In more than 3,000 sorties during WWII, 247 B-17s were lost; despite the bombers almost uncanny ability to withstand damage and bring airmen home, it was still susceptible to anti-aircraft.
About 2,500 men died during those 3,000 sorties. In all, there were 2. 3 million sorties during WWII, and roughly 144,000 men died during those missions. Why did so many lives have to be lost? That staggering number of deceased could have been sliced in half because of one new Low Observance (LO) technology. (LO) technology, commonly known as stealth technology, is crucial to the military because it’s effective in destroying enemy targets while also being undetected, therefor saving lives. During previous wars, insufficient technology caused several problems for the United States.
The main problem was the design of the aircraft. Almost all of the United States’ previous aircraft’s contained metal, a vital material used not only in planes but in manufacturing jobs as well. Unfortunately, metal is also easily detected by radar causing unfathomable amount of planes to be demolished in mid-flight. Tremendous loss of this substance due to planes being shot down would cause a major shortage of metal. This would have horrid effects on America. Although the metallic frame of the aircraft is a major problem, the shape of the aircraft itself is a slightly larger problem than metal.
Many former planes consisted of a large number of flat surfaces and sharp edges. This advancement was devastating to pilots because, in 1934, Robert Page discovered that flat surfaces can be detected by radar waves; therefore, all the pilots in the sky could be detected by one small device on the ground causing havoc in the sky. Insufficient engine technology has caused profuse parlous problems for the United States. Planes can be easily detected by the emittance of heat from their engines exhaust. Every plane consists of a least one engine but many have 2-4 engines making it extremely susceptible to infrared heat-seeking missiles.
Most planes are designed so that their engines release excessively hot exhaust. Because the exhaust is so hot, an infrared heat-seeking missile can detect all aircraft that pass within their vicinity. This inadequate engine design of most modern military aircraft has caused numerous aircraft casualties. Most of the designs of the Twentieth Century are easily susceptible to heat-seeking missiles because their engines are usually mounted on the outside of the plane. This makes them remarkably easy targets for the enemy to detect. The constant heat being emitted by the engines makes it seemingly impossible to avoid their impending fate.
Unfortunately, inadequate technology had devastating effects on pilots, their families, and the local citizens of the country which is being attacked. A mind boggling 6,600 airmen died per month because of insufficient technology. During one fateful WWII mission, a bomber crew of twelve was flying over a large city that had an industrial park. Their mission was to destroy the industrial park; at the outskirts of the city, they were intercepted by radar station, which then relayed the plane’s whereabouts to the anti-aircraft gunners. The gunners took aim with deadly accuracy and fired.
BOOM, was the last sound the crew of twelve ever heard. Falling to the ground like a wounded bird, they closed in on the city. Three seconds later their plane vaulted into the earth at a tremendous speed causing a massive explosion. The explosion flattened the entire community, causing hundreds of innocent people to die. There are numerous stories just like this one where falling airplanes flattened innocent communities and destroyed pilots lives. The cost of producing insufficient technology has increased every year making it harder and harder on the United States economy.
The cost of a B-17 bomber during WWII was about $204,000. Today that same exact bomber would cost approximately $2,400,000. Obviously this would be an outrageous price for the United States to pay per bomber. During WWII, America produced an astounding 13,000 bombers, which averages out to $2,652,000,000 that the United States exhausted on aircraft production. Although, most of the money the United States dumped on aircraft was received back in war treaties/fines, it still didn’t solve the fact that tons of precious metal was wasted on aircraft. Also, 9. 7 billion gallons of gasoline was consumed from 1941-1945.
If an amount that huge was consumed today it would cause economic terror around the globe eventually leading to many more wars fighting over gasoline. In all, WWII was the most expensive war the United States was ever involved in. If a war of that magnitude were to happen today, it would cause shortage in metal, money, and men, leaving the U. S. open to a catastrophic collapse. Stealth technology is crucial to the military because it has the capability of going undetected for thousands of miles. Any scheme that man has ever developed to detect aircraft is thwarted by a single aircraft called the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
Radar is one of the main tactics used to detect aircraft, but because the B-2 has radio-absorbent materials (RAM) as the name implies, this material is able to absorb radar waves and convert them to heat instead of bouncing the radar waves back to the radar station. Plus the sleek, smooth yet curved surface of the B-2 also helps in redirecting and absorbing radar waves. Although this sleek rounded design significantly helps with avoiding radar, it also makes the plane highly unstable, causing it to be virtually impossible for a human pilot to control.
To even out the imbalance, the engineers installed a flight-control computer system that stabilizes the plane in the wind. Another common way airplanes are detected is by infrared heat signature which detects airplanes by the heat coming from their engines. The B-2, however, is unable to be spotted by this technology because its engines are buried deep inside the plane where the B-2 has a cooling system that prevents hot air from exiting in the plane’s exhaust. The deeply buried engines inside the plane help muffle the sound making it stealthier.
This stealth plane was created by Northrop Grumman and later purchased by the United States. Stealth planes are so powerful that they destroyed Iraq’s entire military operation without being detected. If the stealth bomber is used in future wars, it would give the United States a significant advantage. Although this solution seems exceptional, there are still some negative sides to the B-2 solution. One major negative effect is the outrageous 2. 4 billion dollar price tag of one B-2 bomber. This cost has driven away many supporters indicating it would cause the U. S. economy to falter.
Furthermore, some critics don’t like the idea of a plane that can go completely undetected because it may give our military an unfair advantage (most of these critics where from other countries). Most agree that the 2. 4 billion dollar B-2 shouldn’t go into mass production because of its effect on the economy. In contrast, there is a solution to the B-2s gigantic cost. The United States could design a smaller, more compact B-2 that would cost about 1. 2 billion saving significant amounts of money and preventing the U. S. from going bankrupt.
This solution would appease the critics while till aiding in the fight against terrorists. Stealth technology has an uncanny ability to change the world because the pilots can destroy enemy targets without being detected. Stealth technology’s impact ranges from keeping pilots safe and significantly dropping the number of civilians lost during war. Smaller stealth aircraft should be put in mass production because it would be both money efficient and lifesaving. Until a smaller design of the B-2 comes out we are still susceptible to attacks on our country just like the infamous plural harbor attack.