of the Navy so that space requirements, alternatives, and options can be considered and acted on in the best overall interests of the naval forces.

Signature Management

Signature management is the application of many of the technologies described in this report to permit the purposeful reduction of the observability of a platform, vehicle, facility, person, and so on in order to accomplish one or more of the following objectives: (1) hide its existence from the enemy, (2) confuse the enemy's ability to locate it, (3) confuse the enemy's ability to identify it, or (4) reduce its vulnerability to attack. Over the past decade, the DOD has made remarkable use of signature management to enhance the probability of success on the battlefield. The F-117 stealth fighter clearly demonstrated the advantage of surprise in Desert Storm in terms of inflicting initial devastating destruction on the adversary while remaining virtually invulnerable. U.S. Navy submarines through their shape, material coatings, and operational practices have been the silent service for decades. The B-2 stealth bomber and the Sea Shadow stealth ship developments, while not yet deployed in warfare, are other examples.

In the past decade or so, materials to control the absorption, reflectance, and emissions of electromagnetic and optical signals, the muffling of acoustic emissions, and the shaping of objects have been the principal methods of controlling and reducing the signature of platforms below detectable levels. Electromagnetic analysis codes based on fundamental physical principles, such as Maxwell's equations, attempt to determine the signature response of a platform to incident electromagnetic energy. The sophistication and fidelity of these codes have evolved at the rate of progress in computers. Progress in the future should track the computer technology trends described in Chapter 2, provided that the Department of the Navy invests in these software code developments. This is important because high-fidelity computer modeling of electromagnetic wave interactions with objects is a powerful design tool for future stealthy platforms. Confidence in the accuracy and fidelity of such modeling codes can greatly reduce expensive testing time on outdoor ranges.

Materials for these applications have been complex in many cases and expensive. To make signature management available to a wider variety of applications, the Department of the Navy should invest in appropriate material technologies with a goal of significantly reducing the cost and improving the ease of application and maintainability.

With the advent of MEMS technology and the availability of systems-on-a-chip and with advances in smart materials, computing power, and intelligent software systems, the possibility exists in the future to actively control the signature of important assets such as aircraft, UAVs, and UUVs. This could lead to signature warfare, the ability to present in real time a different signature to an adversary as the warfighting scenario evolves. Signature warfare could change



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement