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
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
Cost: Approx. $165 million
Design Operational Speed: 287 mph/250 knots
Operating Altitude: 25-30,000 ft.