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|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.
the images will open higher resolution images, typically 1280 by 753
pixels and less than 170kb.
demonstrator during flight testing.
|Firefly at sunset.
|3 - view of the
Lampyridae showing the faceted shape.