Invisible Airplanes? US and China Race Toward Cloaking Technology

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 06:42 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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The United States and China are in a heated race to invent the first cloaking device that would make airplanes invisible to the naked eye and undetectable by radar, reports this week show.

Sources told Fox News that the U.S. military is working with contractors on several classified projects while universities and military supply companies are showing off other stealth technology publicly.

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"The general public … might not hear about how far the U.S. has really come, because it is and should remain classified," former Navy SEAL and firearms expert Chris Sajnog told Fox. "Other countries are still playing catch-up — but they're closing the gap."

One of those countries, China, has funded more than 40 research teams for the past three years to develop cloaking projects, according to the South China Morning Post. The country's research, most of which is happening at Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, could lead to broader uses than the military.

Zhejiang University optical engineering specialist Ma Yungui told the Morning Post that his team would soon announce that its researchers have developed a device that stops objects from being detected by heat sensors or metal detectors.

Ma told the website that the device could eventually be used to allow weapons to pass through security checkpoints undetected. It could also be used by troopers to avoid being seen by infrared cameras at night.

"Many people have asked me if the technology can be applied on fighter jets so they can get heat-seeking missiles off their tail. Well, we may work on that," Ma told the Morning Post.

Chinese authorities announced they were working on another cloaking technology using a hexagonal array of glass-like panels to bend light around an object, obscuring it from view as though hidden by an invisibility cloak. It is the type of technology seen in science-fiction movies like the floating aircraft carrier in "Marvel's The Avengers."

"The idea isn't new, but materials enabling the technology are becoming more available," David R. Ricketts, professor of engineering at North Carolina State University, said to Fox News. "It's like we see in the movies. If you tape a picture of an empty hallway to a security camera, the person looking at the camera sees an empty room — even though you could be walking through the hallway."

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