Experimental German radar 'tracked two U.S. F-35 stealth jet for 100 MILES' after lying in wait on a pony farm to catch them flying home from airshow -


If you declare yourself as "great", you're not.

The F-35 stealth fighter is lauded by the U.S Air Force as almost invisible to radar - which is why it has spent $100million on each of the jets.

However, a German radar maker claims to have tracked two of jets from a pony farm for nearly 100 miles using an emerging generation of sensors and processors.

It used a new 'passive radar' system that analyzes how civilian communications - such as radio and TV broadcasts and mobile phone stations - bounce off airborne objects.

This, the firm says, renders the jet's stealth technology, that is designed to absorb ground based radar to stop it reflecting back, redundant.

The new radar has no emitters so pilots do not realize they are entering a monitored area - but it relies on there being civilian communication waves.

A German radar maker claims to have tracked two of US F-35 jets (stock photo) found at a pony farm for nearly 100 miles away using a system equip with ‘an emerging generation’ of sensors and processors'

The two F-35s were reportedly tracked in 2018 after being flown to Germany from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for the Berlin airshow.

The jets never took to the skies during the show meaning that the passive radar, based in a corner of the airfield, could not be tested on them.

But the radar makers kept a watch on the F-35s and once they knew the jets gearing up to head home, they set up the system, called TwInvis, at a nearby pony farm.

The technology is designed to observe electromagnetic emissions in the atmosphere, which includes such signals from radio stations, televisions, cellphone towers and more. The radar can then spot an aircraft by ‘reading how the signals bounce off’ of the jet

Following the jets' take-off, the firm activated the radar, began tracking the jets and collected data using signals from the planes.
Stealth technology has provided fighter jets with the ability to elude radar defenses and the US has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into studying and developing aircraft with this capability,

However, it seems they may be returning to the drawing board after following the news that two of their F-35 fighter jets were tracked by a German firm, first reported by C4ISRNet.

The technology is designed to observe electromagnetic emissions in the atmosphere, which includes such signals from radio stations, televisions, cellphone towers and more.

The radar can then spot an aircraft by ‘reading how the signals bounce off’ of the jet.

It was reported that the two US Air Force F-35As were at the Berlin Air Show in 2018 where the data was captured.
The technology found the jets and tracked them for approximately 93 miles.

However, C4ISRNet also noted that the German company knew when the jets were coming and were able to use the signals from the jets’ ADS-B transponders to help identify the craft.

So although this may sounds troublesome for those flying into battle, real enemies will not know when these fighter jets are coming – so they may not be able to detect them without this knowledge.

– The jet measures 51.2ft in overall length, has a wingspan of 35ft and a height of 14.3ft.
– It has a top speed of 1.6 Mach or 1,200 mph, a Max G rating of 7G, and a combat radius of 518 miles.
– Lockheed Martin, who built the jet, describes its stealth capabilities as 'unprecedented'. Its airframe design, advanced materials and other features make it 'virtually undetectable to enemy radar'.

There are three different varieties of the F35, which each have separate features, as show above
– The F-35B jets are built from more than 300,000 individual parts.
– There are six distributed aperture system sensors around the jet – two underneath, two on top of the aircraft and one either side of the nose. These infrared cameras feed real-time information and images into the pilot's helmet, allowing them to see through the airframe.

– All variants of the jets are mainly constructed on Lockheed Martin's mile-long production line in Fort Worth, Texas.
– It takes 58,000 man hours to build each F-35B.
– The F-35 can launch from land, and will take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth via the skip jump ramp, which has been designed to optimize the launch.
– Maximum thrust tops 40,000lb and the jet has a range of 900 nautical miles.
– The jet is capable of two types of ship landing – vertically on to the deck, and also through the shipborne rolling vertical landing, which using forward air speed, allows the aircraft to bring back several thousand pounds of extra weight to the ship.

Another issue is that the radar's ability to spot the jets relies on signals from civilian transmitters, and many war zones are wastelands with not a civilian in sight.

With this being known, nations with a stealth craft could easily take out cell phone networks through cyberattacks or bomb radio broadcasting towers to keep their fighter jets hidden.

However, TwInvis is the only one of its kind that has successfully tracked an F-35, and from 93 miles away.
'As the radar develops and operators refine their tactics, it could become even more effective,' Popular Mechanics reported.

- End of Article -​

If these accounts are true then it will result in a revitalisation of 90s era BVR combat with increased engagement ranges and RADAR sites that can not be destroyed through the use of HARMs.
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If you declare yourself as "great", you're not.
Allow me to explain how passive RADAR works.

In traditional RADAR the emitter and reciever are located in close proximity to each other, so when it emits some radiation the target reflects it back to the reciever allowing it to be tracked. Stealth aircraft work in a way in which it's geometry deflects the radiation away from the reciever. Passive RADAR alternatively looks at the environment's radiation be it mobile, GPS or walkie-talkies and treats it as the source. It will track both source and the reflected target and this results in the stealth geometry reflecting the radiowaves right into the reciever because it is not configured for this type of RADAR.


May contain nuts.
True & Honest Fan
No. The F35's in question were wearing reflectors to make them more visible to radar. It was part of an exercise.
Is this a joke on how that's the regular excuse whenever someone manages to pull the rug away from under the US Army's feet or are you being serious?

The two F-35s were reportedly tracked in 2018 after being flown to Germany from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for the Berlin airshow.

The jets never took to the skies during the show meaning that the passive radar, based in a corner of the airfield, could not be tested on them.

But the radar makers kept a watch on the F-35s and once they knew the jets gearing up to head home, they set up the system, called TwInvis, at a nearby pony farm.
That sounds kind like a dick move, tbh.
Still, pretty hilarious. Undoubtedly, we won't see such planes again on airshows in Germany any time soon.

However, C4ISRNet also noted that the German company knew when the jets were coming and were able to use the signals from the jets’ ADS-B transponders to help identify the craft.

So although this may sounds troublesome for those flying into battle, real enemies will not know when these fighter jets are coming – so they may not be able to detect them without this knowledge.
Wouldn't be so sure about that. It means they could verify whether their system was working, but they were still able to track them nonetheless.
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That Defense Sperg.
Is this a joke on how that's the regular excuse whenever someone manages to pull the rug away from under the US Army's feet or are you being serious?
No, the F-35s were actually wearing RADAR reflectors:

Here is a full and detailed article effectively debunking a lot of the hype.

No, Passive Radar Isn't Going To Make Stealth Technology Obsolete Anytime Soon

While passive radars will become increasingly valuable pieces of advanced air defense ecosystems, they don't invalidate stealth technology.

Earlier today, C4ISRnet.com posted a colorful piece about how the German radar company Hensoldt tracked a pair of F-35s that were departing the Berlin Air Show in 2018 with their "TwInivs" passive radar system. The article was well written and brings up the most glaring points regarding Hensoldt's claims. Yet my inbox and DMs started filling up with readers showing great concern and amazement regarding what some are saying on social media is the "end of stealth" technology. They wanted to know what to think of all this. Well let's start with this: no, passive radar doesn't invalidate the need for stealth and stealth isn't just about hiding from radar, it is about employing a broad cocktail or measures to drastically increase survivability via limiting the adversary's ability to detect and target you. And guess, what? It isn't a magical cloak of invisibility. It never has been and it never will be. And passive radar isn't a magic stealth detection tool, either.

At its most basic, the passive radar concept uses ambient RF radiation, such as emissions from cellphone towers, television and radio broadcasts, and more, instead of its own active radar emitter, and uses returns from those signals to detect targets moving through an area of the sky. The concept has been around for a long time. It dates back to the dawn of radar, with passive radars seeing service during World War II. Multiple weapons manufacturers in multiple countries have been pursuing the technology, to varying degrees, in recent decades.

In fact, it seems that every few years an article makes a big splash by declaring that stealth technology may be invalid due to passive radar system advances. Usually, these articles are packaged with the threat de jour—Iran, Russia, China, etc. Similar claims are now made in articles about low frequency and quantum radar technology today.

Hensoldt's own claims are over a year old and came at a time when Germany was looking at buying the F-35to replace its Tornado fighters. But really, anything on this type of topic seems to spark a bit of misplaced hysteria, and when the F-35 is the subject of attention along with it, it is bound to grab eyeballs.

As the years have progressed, passive radar has not slashed the utility of stealth technology for a laundry list of reasons. First off, just detecting something unknown in your vicinity does not mean that the target can be accurately classified or engaged. In other words, in most cases, passive radar does not provide engagement quality telemetry for which to employ weapons. It is an awareness tool largely used for cueing other, more traditional sensors.

In other words, it could be used to direct other air defense sensors, such as search and fire control radars, toward an area of the sky that said object appears to be in. This is a worthy capability, as it is possible that some of those sensors will be able to get a better track on the aircraft, especially by varying tactics with the knowledge that they are looking for a low-observable target. But considering that stealth aircraft are optimized to evade detection specifically from the types of radar bands used by these radars, especially from certain aspects, just directing their beams to an area of sky may be a fruitless endeavor. This is especially true if said stealthy target is at a significant distance from those sensors and at a favorable aspect in relation to them. And even if tracking is realized, it would likely be intermittent and not long continuous enough to guide weapons onto the target.

Also, once those sensors are cued by the passive radar system, the aircraft being hunted for will know full well that this is occurring and will employ route changes and advanced electronic warfare capabilities to confuse, spoof, or blind those radar systems. These active sensors give away their location by emitting, so the aircraft or other platforms it is networked to, could also elect to destroy some or all of those threatening sensors if they pose a dire threat to its mission or if the aircraft's mission itself is to do so. So, once the passive radar does its job and cues other higher-fidelity active sensors onto the target area, those sensors are now at risk of being obliterated.

Where the passive radar has an advantage, even over its active counterparts, is that it doesn't emit radiation that can give away its location or even the fact that it is present in the region. That means it is very hard to hunt down and destroy. That is until it broadcasts information to other air defense nodes, such as to cue fire control and/or search radars, if it does so without being connected to them via a hard line. In most cases, if the passive radar was hard-wired to the other sensors, it would be in a fixed position or near those systems anyway, thus making it vulnerable to attack, too. The vulnerability of any integrated air defense node talking to another via radio emissions depends on what type of data-link and its associated hardware is being used. Regardless, it is something very important to consider.

Passive radars also rely on dense third-party RF radiation to exploit a medium in which stealthy aircraft can be spotted. So, using it in highly remote areas would be problematic if not totally useless. In other words, because the radiation level cannot be controlled by its operators, the system is subject to the ambient RF environment it is placed in. This limits how and where the system can be effectively employed. Even then, their range and fidelity are limited.

For instance, in the German passive radar story, the company says it tracked two F-35s flying, but at the time those F-35s had their transponders on and were talking on air traffic control frequencies (emitting their own RF energy). They may have even had their radars on utilizing basic modes. They were also flying with their radar reflectors attached to their fuselages and with their aircraft in a non-combat configuration and software mode. The operators also knew the local RF environment very well and how to optimize the system to spot aircraft that they already knew were going to be there. Even under these near ideal conditions, they claimed they tracked the aircraft for about 90 miles. That is a substantial distance, but is no way indicative of what ranges would be possible under actual combat conditions, and that's even if they would see an unannounced, emissions silent, combat configured, electronic warfare-enabled F-35 at all.

Where passive radar systems may be most capable is when they are paired with an advanced infrared search and track system. This could allow for more precise secondary targeting of whatever the passive radar sees on its scope. It could also provide classification data and even weapons employment information. But IRSTs, especially those mounted on the ground, have major limitations themselves, especially in terms of range and fidelity, which can be highly environmental conditions-dependent, not to mention scanning speed.

The ability to help direct fighters onto potential targets of interest that normal radars don't see is another potentially potent application for such a system. But that means fighters need to be in the air or on alert nearby in order for such a concept to work.

So, the point is that passive radars have their place in an advanced integrated air defenses system. But their capabilities are limited and largely supportive in nature. As computer processing continues to improve, their ability to pick out targets from the chaos of the electromagnetic spectrum in populated areas will improve and with it so will the IADS overall capabilities. Also, moving from bistatic passive radars configurations—like TwInivs—to multi-static systems with arrays distributed across large geographical areas should also provide more robust capabilities.

Eventually, one could imagine the processing power and the complexity of these systems becoming so intricate they could get an infrared homing missile into the right area to possibly lock onto a stealthy aircraft. This would be something of a 'holy grail' of long-range, all passive, surface-to-air engagement where no active radar is used at all. Still, a data-link connection between the missile and the passive radar system would be needed. But the truth is that at this point the missiles that could support such an engagement are largely still in the concept stage or fielded in very limited numbers, and the passive radars capable of providing high-quality telemetry for them are largely an idea, not a reality. Also, aircraft like the F-35 have advanced missile approach warning systems that will still spot the missile heading their way and various forms of infrared countermeasures and even hard-kill systems can be employed.

Above all else, this assumes a perfect scenario and one where there are plenty of RF emissions being pumped into a sky. One way to drastically degrade these systems' effectiveness, no matter how advanced, is to strike the commercial RF transmitters that enable them. Often times this is the first step in an air campaign anyway. In fact, many of these systems stop broadcasting during a time of war anyway.

So overall, passive radar is not a capability invalidates stealth. At least anytime soon, and likely no time in the foreseeable future, if ever. In fact, it makes stealth all that much more important as it allows aircraft to evade the radars that will be used to attack it if passive radar detects their presence.

As I have stated many times over, stealth technology is not some monolithic 'thing' that makes airplanes disappear. It is a wide-ranging cocktail of measures, including airframe shaping, composite structures, radar-absorbent materials, low-probability of intercept radars and communications, infrared signature attenuation, enhanced situational awareness, high-quality intelligence, mission and route planning based on that intelligence, destruction and suppression of enemy air defenses, tailored tactics employment, munitions selection, and now more than ever before, electronic warfare. All of these elements and more are balanced against performance and mission goals. Even with the best of these elements employed in the best possible way, it does not mean an aircraft is invisible to radar, it means it is far less detectable over a given range and aspect to a particular threat sensor. And just because a stealthy aircraft can be briefly detected, doesn't mean it can be successfully engaged.

The F-35, above all other aircraft flying today, has had its traditional stealth technology backstopped with other capabilities, namely electronic warfare and enhanced situational awareness, to help ensure its survivability in many threatening scenarios it could experience in the years to come. And even today, no matter what the USAF brass proclaims in big public speeches, there are places the F-35 wouldn't wander into without significantly degrading the enemy's IADS fist. That's what standoff munitions are for, which are also becoming enemy air defense network disruptors.

You can read more about the F-35's bag of guileful survival tricks in this recent exclusive of ours.

Beyond the F-35, future combat aircraft will use very low-observable design concepts that allow it to attenuate RF energy over a far broader number of bands. This, along with advanced in radar-absorbing coatings and structures, will impact even the effectiveness of passive radar. Their self-defensive systems will be kinetic and laser-based, as well. Meaning if they do get detected, the missiles will have a hard time actually reaching their target and scoring a blow.

So no, passive radar is not something that will end the need for stealth technology, including low-observable shaping, structures, and coatings on combat aircraft. It does, however, have the potential to be an increasingly important component within any highly networked advanced integrated air defense system. It's just another facet of the ever-increasing realm of air combat and the measures and countermeasures that it leans upon.

In the end, neither passive radar or stealth technology is magic. The truth is that the side with the best book of spells, not the single best spell, has the greatest chance of winning the air wars of the future.



Sīn the Moon Daddy

If I were the Air Force I would have just let them think it was going to be this easy. I would have just released a technical bulletin to investors and allowed this worthless trash to believe whatever he wanted.

Oh shucks! You got us!
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Jet Fuel Johnny

Full Metal Sperg
True & Honest Fan
So the Germans invented a radar system that will guarantee that all the civilian radio stations, TV stations, and cell phone towers get pasted via missile attacks in the pre-conflict strike phase?

Fucking nice.

If only they spent as much time figuring out how to get rid of kebabs instead of trying to say that the US's military is now obsolete because of some Franken-tech they've cobbled together.


No controlling legal authority
I know for a fact we already had a thread about this.
And other countries have had passive RADAR development. Hyping it up is great, because letting everyone believe they can see the planes whenever they need to helps their mission.

If you're old enough you remember when the whispers about RADAR invisible planes started showing up. People railed on it as conspiracy theory. Yeah, stealth isn't invisible, but starting those leaks built a mythology around the things and when they, out of the blue, but the F-117A out in public it was freaky, but it was only a slow, light bomber. Shortly after they showed the B-2 and the conspiracy theorists went apeshit, especially the "aliens at area 51" type. It was fantastic theater, and the planes were legendary long before seeing any real use. Legends are scary.

Then, there was the next impossibility, stealth helicopters, and we never really would have known that they are real if they had managed to destroy the one they lost grabbing bin Laden fully.

Now stealth is normal, so maybe they take the other approach and let people believe they're easily foiled systems.


So this "stealth" fighter can now be tracked by passive radar? Did we really just commit $1.5 trillion to a plane that's now obsolete on top of being horribly unreliable?
You're thinking a tad too small if you think its just a problem with the F-35. Assuming this hiatus isn't a load of high grade bullcrap, then I don't see there being any reason how our B2 bombers and future stealth drones aren't in jeopardy as well.


Non Casual Observer
I admit to only having skimmed the article, but from what I gather it's just a passive receiver that can track reflections of radio waves transmitted from civil infrastructure.

So basically its just the distributed low frequency passive radar systems we've known have been able to detect low-observability aircraft since they were first flown, albeit even lower resolution, even easier to jam and who's reliant on easily targeted civilian power sources.

USAF truly BLFO by this game changing discovery.

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