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Active/Plasma Stealth Technology

Explanation of what is Plasma Stealth Technology and how it works (-by Venik)

Plasma -  links to plasma physics sites.

     Couple of things to keep in mind: plasma is ionized gas particles. Therefore, plasma flow is a flow of ionized gas particles. Ion is an electrically charged particle or group of atoms. Plasma cloud is a quasineutral (total electrical charge is zero) collection of free charged particles. The vast majority of matter in the universe exists in plasma state. Near the Earth plasma can be found in the form of solar wind, magnetosphere and ionosphere. The main property of plasma (for our purposes) is its frequency, which is equal to a square root of a ratio of 4 * Pi * square of ion charge * concentration of ions to the mass of ion:

SQRT ( (4 * Pi * n * e^2) / m ),

where e is electron or ion charge, n is concentration of ions per volume of plasma and m is mass of ion.

     There are several types of oscillations in plasma: low frequency (ion-sound waves), high frequency (oscillations of electrons relative to ions), spiral waves (in the presence of a magnetic field - "magnetosound"), and cross waves propagating along a magnetic field. A device for generating plasma is called plasmatron. This device generates the so-called low-temperature plasma. A brief guide to plasmas (recommended before you proceed with this page.)

 Jane's:  Russians offer radical stealth device for export

ras01.jpg (19538 bytes)

Russian Academy of Sciences

     Russian Academy of Sciences recently revealed information about a novel "stealth" technology, that incorporates plasma fields. Russian ITAR/TASS news agency recently interviewed the director of the Keldysh Research Center (FKA Scientific Research Institute for Thermal Processes), Academician Anatoliy Koroteyev, who briefly summarized capabilities of plasma stealth system developed by his research center and the current status of the project. You can read the entire ITAR/TASS article in Russian or in English (external link.) An interesting fact: Keldysh Research Center operates a unique plasma wind tunnel for analyzing propagation of electromagnetic waves in the vicinity of a spacecraft as well as for testing of antenna inserts and ion thrusters. Detailed info about Keldysh Research Center here.

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Laser plasma laboratory

     First, I would like to assure people with high school physics background that, at least in theory, the system, described by Academician Koroteyev, is perfectly valid. Interactions between various types of electromagnetic radiation and plasma fields were studied for many years in Russia, the United States and around the world. Among recent achievement in this area is a "plasma stealth" antenna developed by the US Navy for use on LO aircraft. The system employs a U-shaped glass tube filled with low-pressure gas (something like a fluorescent tube). This antenna is energized and acts as a highly-directional, electronically steered transmitter/receiver. When de-energized, the antenna is virtually transparent to hostile electromagnetic signals. One of the problems with such a system is its vulnerability to resonant signals. For more information click here.

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Microwave plasma discharge

     The system developed by the Russians is also based on electromagnetic wave-plasma interactions, but in a very different way. Russian stealth plasma device creates a plasma field around an aircraft. This field partially consumes electromagnetic energy of a hostile radar or causes it to bend around the aircraft, reducing the aircraft RCS by up to 100 times. Sounds fantastic? Not really: effects of dissipation and bending of electromagnetic signals in presence of plasma field have been observed for decades. If there is anything new about the system developed by the Russians it certainly is not the theoretical part but technical aspects of the plasma generator. Keldysh Research Center claims to have developed, built and tested a plasma shield generator that weighs only 100 kg.

plasma01.jpg (7323 bytes)

Microwave-induced plasma "air spike"

     The idea of creating a plasma field around an aircraft is not a new one either. Such a possibility was thoroughly studied by both Russians and Americans. This was done for very different reasons, however. Aircraft designers want to use a plasma shield generator on hypersonic aircraft. In this application, plasma may be generated by a powerful plasma laser and will act as a heat shield for an aircraft. There are plans to use such a system in conjunction with a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) propulsion to achieve velocities up to Mach 50. For more information click here or here. This is truly unbelievable, but even this theoretically and technologically is perfectly possible. It is not known whether the plasma stealth system developed by the Russians employs a plasma laser or some other method for creating a plasma field. My personal opinion is that it has nothing to do with a plasma laser (which is a very large and very power-hungry device.)

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Deep Space 1 satellite

     Plasma physics was given priority in Russia many years ago, which resulted in a number of breakthroughs in theory as well as practical applications of plasma. Perhaps one of the most interesting and promising applications of plasma is the so-called ion thruster, used to propel spacecraft. This technology was first developed in Russia (mainly by Keldysh Research Center) and recently successfully used on an American satellite Deep Space 1. The system uses xenon gas as fuel and can achieve exhaust velocities of up to 30 km/sec (ten times that of an average rocket engine.) Wouldn't you like to understand how this ion drive really works? You go back to college or follow this link to MSNBC excellent interactive "Ion Drive" guide. Interesting to note that first such "ion thrusters" were developed in USSR and used on Soviet spacecraft almost 30 years ago.


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