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the early 1980s
the German aerospace company
Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) developed
a design for a low-observable medium range missile
Lampyridae (Firefly). Developed in secret and
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
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.
during flight testing.
view of the
Lampyridae showing the faceted shape.