Stealth technology takes a lot of forms. The word can refer to all kinds of things, from spray-coatings on bombers to the active camouflage of various science fiction properties. For the purposes of this article, we’ll treat the word stealth with the following definition: the passive avoidance of detection. That is to say, the Predator wouldn’t count — that would be cloaking. We’ll get to that in a later piece. But stealth, particularly, has been making real-world impacts for hundreds of years. It has served as a major play in several concurrent arms races, often turning the tide of wars before countermeasures are developed.
The most basic form of stealth? Hiding, the time-honored tradition of holding a bush in front of you as you advance on the castle, or painting splotches on your fatigues so you can blend in with the ground. This may seem silly, but in the lead-up to the World War I, a U-Boat’s stealth capabilities came almost entirely from the fact that it was simply not visible. In the time before advanced sonar and meticulous new methods of triangulation, that really was all it took. Similarly, the altitude of a spy plane counts as stealth, especially given modern research outfitting planes with non-standard cameras to spy the ground through the protection of cloud cover.
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Now, all the great minds out there need to get on the political problems and make them manageable. Economics being the major challenge.