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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 fighter
named Lampyridae (Firefly). Developed in
secret and independently of 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
below are artists' impressions of the Lampyridae
demonstrator. The in-page images are reduced
resolution files. Clicking on the images will
open higher resolution images.
during flight testing.
view of the Lampyridae showing the faceted shape.