China ‘strips invisibility cloak’ from stealth bomber with new radar

China ‘strips invisibility cloak’ from stealth bomber with new radar, by Damien McElroy.

Chinese scientists claim to have developed a “stealth-stripper” radar that could hand Beijing a decisive advantage in the military build-up in the South China Sea, just as America deploys more than half its navy to the Pacific.

The race to dominate the sea around China has drawn in military ships and planes from America, China, Japan and Taiwan, as well as the southeast Asian states.

A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber.

A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber.

A military-run research institute, China Electronics Technology Group, says it has developed a type of radar that can strip the cloak of invisibility used by the US B-2 stealth bomber. It detects the shadow the aircraft casts as it flies. Capable of spotting planes at a 96km (60-mile) range, it is reported to be five times more powerful than anything produced for the Pentagon’s rival Darpa program.

“China has had a great leg-up over a short period of time since the 1990s by shopping for technology from the former Soviet Union and Israel,” said Douglas Barrie, who is an expert in military aviation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “It has spent a lot of money and poured a lot of national resources into radar development.”

The radar threatens to alter the military balance in the South China Sea, where Beijing asserts its territorial rights over scattered island chains.

Stealth technology may have had its day:

…stealth against radar isn’t the be-all and end-all of aerial combat. The F-35 can be spotted by low frequency radar a couple of hundred kilometers away, as all aircraft can be.

Infrared detection can also work at a considerable distance under the right atmospheric conditions. For example, all Sukhois after and including the Su-27SK have Infra Red Scan and Track (IRST) that keeps getting better. The latest IRST – the OLS-35 – will detect, track and engage the F-35 at about 70 km.

hat-tip Stephen Neil