Air Force reveals its new aircraft cloaking system uses dark-emitting diodes (DEDs)

-April 01, 2015

Star Trek has finally met its match in real life with the U. S. Air Force’s revelation of a new stealth technology that works as effectively as the “cloaking devices” used by Captain Kirk’s nemesis, the Klingons. Officially announced, the X-86b is the world’s first truly invisible airplane, according to the Air Force information office*. While most details of its operation are still classified, it has been confirmed that it uses a large array of carefully-modulated dark-emitting diodes “DEDs” to render the craft invisible to the naked eye.

Figure 1 A photo taken just outside Groom Lake of an aircraft reputed to be the X-86b “DED Jet” displays a stealthy profile.

DEDs consist of a small semiconductor chip with a P/N junction coupled to an embedded quantum vacuum cavity. When reverse-biased, the cavity absorbs photons proportionally to the current flow through the junction. For more information, see the article "Zener-enhanced Dark Emitting Diodes (ZeDEDs) deliver 10X more Dark per Watt" in this issue.

Although dark-emitting diodes (DEDs) have been manufactured for nearly three decades, their low efficiency and relatively narrow photonic absorption bands limited their use for anything beyond a handful of applications such as power off indicators and active camouflage systems, such as handheld “darklights” and so-called "stealth suits used by some special forces squadrons for covert operations. There have also been persistent rumors about "cloaking devices" for military vehicles, and the long-rumored "DED Jet", believed to be in development since the early 1990's at the Air Force's Advanced Technology Center, located in Groom Lake, Nevada

The DED Jet's existence was confirmed for the first time yesterday by Pentagon officials, just prior to a hastily-arranged press conference with YoYo Dyne Propulsion Systems, a prime contractor for the project, based in historic Grovers Mill, NJ. In addition to the embarrassment it caused the Pentagon, the incident forced YoYo Dyne to prematurely announce a line of advanced darkness emitters, based on the company's new Zener-enhanced DED technology. Officials of the Grovers Mill NJ-based technology firm apologized for the sudden announcement of the ZeDED yesterday evening which caught the industry by complete surprise. "We'd been planning on introducing our new ZeDEDs at LightFair next month," said John F. Cutbait, Chief Product Evangelist at YoYo Dyne. "Unfortunately, we had to change plans when the stealth aircraft we've been working on with the Air Force hit the news yesterday afternoon" he concluded.


Figure 2 a) An early ground-based test bed for DED cloaking techology  b) The X-86a, the first airborne prototype stealth aircraft with its DED array deactivated.

Cutbait was referring to the incident which occurred at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station when a DED-equipped experimental stealth aircraft was forced to land after experiencing a minor problem with its flight systems. The highly-classified aircraft landed at the naval air station undetected, thanks to the conformal array of RGBD (red, green, blue and dark) emitters embedded in its composite skin. All went well as the DED jet began to taxi to a remote corner of the field with the intention of making repairs. Unfortunately, the disabled jet's active camouflage was so effective that the driver of an airport service vehicle failed to see the see it crossing an intersection and crashed into it.


Figure 3 a) The DED-Equipped X-86b in Stealth Mode, as seen by a chase plane during flight tests at 30,000 ft.
b) Meanwhile, YoYo Dyne flight engineers monitor the X86b's performance from a bunker located under McGuire AFB.

Analysts believe that the aircraft is the X-86b (unofficially dubbed the “DED-Jet”), a jet-powered version of the earlier X-86a which served as a test bed for DED-based cloaking technologies (see fig.3, above). It is rumored to be built on a retired B-58 “Hustler” airframe recovered from mothball storage in Arizona. Industry experts speculate that an IR-DED-equipped plane would be able to evade heat-seeking missiles and other thermal detection arrays without the use of flares or other conventional stealth technology. Analysts also speculate that research is progressing on using IR-DEDs which have been specially tuned to operate in a sub-harmonic mode that would absorb radar signals from both airborne and ground-based emitters.

* Editor's note: EDN thanks the U.S. Air Force for permission to cover the accidental exposure if its highly-classified technology. As part of the agreement which made this story possible, EDN has redacted the most sensitive details and agreed to publish it as an "April Fools satire". To the skeptics who wonder if this is a joke or a conspiracy being perpetrated in plain sight, we say: "We report - you decide".

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