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Lockheed Stealth

Lockheed Stealth Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2004 Title Lockheed Stealth
Author Bill Sweetman Publisher Zenith Press
Published 2004 ISBN 0-7603-1940-5
Format 168 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $19.95


Here is another title that will be of interest to modern combat analysts and contemporary historians. Bill Sweetman has released an interesting perspective titled 'Lockheed Stealth'. What is refreshing is that rather than walk through all of the interesting aircraft that Lockheed has either outright developed or served as the design team lead, he puts each aircraft into perspective with unique prototypes, design competitors, etc.

Coverage begins with early reconnaissance aircraft, also developed by Lockheed, needed to penetrate adversary air defenses and take pictures. These early marvels include the U-2 and SR-71 manned reconnaissance aircraft as weill as a number of Ryan-made drones.

With the improved air defenses that were being fielded each year, stealth came of its own in technologies to reduce (or ideally eliminate) an aircraft's radar cross-section. One of the first breakthroughs was Lockheed's HAVE BLUE which eventually led to the production of the F-117 Nighthawk. Development of stealth continued with the aborted A-12 Avenger, the Northrop B-2, the TACIT BLUE, and the advanced cruise missile. The famous face-off between the Lockheed-Martin F-22 and the Northrop F-23 comes into detail next, followed by the equally interesting face-off between the Lockheed-Martin X-35 and Boeing's X-32. Coverage concludes with a look into the future with unmanned stealth aircraft being developed by the Skunk Works.

The author provides a well-written and nicely illustrated roadmap of past, present and future unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). As was mentioned above, coverage begins with the Radioplanes which were the first UAVs from WW2 that were used as targets for naval anti-aircraft gunners. The technology evolved into the Firebee and Chukar UAVs which were targets and sensor platforms during the Vietnam war era. These, in turn, led to the current family of Hunters, Predators and Global Hawks in use today. Coverage looks into the future as well with the X-45 and X-47 vehicles and the Fire Hawk.

The coverage of this informative title is presented as follows:.

  • Stealth Before Stealth
  • HAVE BLUE and the Advent of Stealth
  • Shape, Shape, Shape, and Materials
  • Building the Stealth Fighter
  • The 1980s Dream Projects
  • ATF to F-22
  • JSF - a Stealth Fighter for the World
  • Meanwhile, at the Skunk Works

This is a nicely compiled and presented title that puts these significant aircraft into perspective and shows how Lockheed has dominated the stealth market. This title is highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!