You are currently viewing the MBB Lampyridae page

  Click this icon to return to the Sky Monographs page


In the early 1980s the German aerospace company Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) developed a design for a low-observable medium range missile fighter named Lampyridae (Firefly).  Developed in secret and independently of Lockheed's work on the "Have Blue" prototype and F-117 stealth fighter, the Lampyridae nonetheless utilised a similar approach; the external shape was composed of a number of triangular facets to reduce the radar cross section (RCS), particularly over the frontal arc that would be exposed to the radar of enemy fighters.

A number of articles were constructed during the test programme; a full size mock-up with a faceted canopy, a three-quarter scale piloted wind tunnel model with a conventional canopy, a 1:3.5 scale low speed model and a 1:20 scale transonic model.  The 12m long piloted model was tested in the German-Dutch wind tunnel at Emmeloord.  The design was revealed to the US in 1987 when a group of USAF officers were shown the piloted model, kept in a closed-off section of MBB's plant at Ottobrunn in Bavaria. 
Reputedly, later calculations indicated the Lampyridae would have had a lower RCS than the famous Lockheed aircraft.


"Germany Reveals Secret Stealth Fighter Research",
Andrzej Jeziorski, Flight International, 8-14 March 1995


Presented below are artists' impressions of the Lampyridae demonstrator.  The in-page images are reduced resolution files.  Clicking on the images will open higher resolution images, typically 1280 by 753 pixels and less than 170kb.

Click To Enlarge

Lampyridae demonstrator during flight testing.

Click to Enlarge

Firefly at sunset.

Click to Enlarge

3 - view of the Lampyridae showing the faceted shape.

© Rachel Pawling, 2015
Correspondence to

  lampy - v.2