Tacit Blue

The TACIT BLUE (Whale) aircraft was built to test the advances in stealth technology. The U.S. Air Force, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Northrop Corporation worked together from 1978 to 1985 to demonstrate that curved surfaces on an aircraft result in a low radar return signal from ground radar. With such a low radar return signal, TACIT BLUE demonstrated that such an aircraft could operate safely close to the battlefield forward line without fear of being discovered by enemy radar. It could continuously monitor enemy forces behind the battlefield and provide targeting information to a ground command centre.

The aircraft made its first flight in February 1982 and by the conclusion of the program in 1985 had flown 135 times. It had a digital fly-by-wire flight control system to help stabilize the aircraft. TACIT BLUE had a single flush inlet on the top of the fuselage to provide air to its two engines.

From the plaque mounted in the cockpit...
Tacit Blue (Whale) Pilots
Mr. Richard Thomas
Col. (Select) Don Cornell
Lt. Col. Russ Easter
Lt. Col. Ken Dyson
Major Dan Vanderhorst

Span: 48 ft. 2 in.
Height: 10 ft. 7 in.
Length: 55 ft. 10 in.
Weight: 30,000 lbs.
Engines: Two Garrett ATF3-6 high-bypass turbofan engines
Armament: None
Crew: One
Cost: Approx. $165 million

Design Operational Speed: 287 mph/250 knots
Operating Altitude: 25-30,000 ft.