Project KEMPSTER: Lockheed A-12 and Plasma Stealth

overscan (PaulMM)

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I've missed this before.

Just noticed a reference to a Westinghouse "KEMPSTER A" device mounted on A-12 131 or tests, which generated an electron cloud to reduce radar reflections.
 

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overscan (PaulMM)

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Project Kempster was an attempt by Westinghouse to reduce the radar return from the A-12 Blackbird's inlets by ionizing the air in front of the inlets. Equipment in the Q bay generated a stream of particles that emerged from the chines just ahead of the inlets.

KEMPSTER was a proof of concept that actually worked well enough that a smaller and less-power-hungry model was designed for the A-12 fleet. It was part of a set of upgrades that were cancelled when OXCART was shut down.

In 2005, the CIA released a 288-page report from Westinghouse that explains the theoretical basis, circuit diagrams, and photos of the electron guns.

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002278_comments.html

Who can find this report???
 

SOC

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According to "THE U-2'S INTENDED SUCCESSOR: PROJECT OXCART, 1956-1968", available on the CIA's FOIA site, KEMPSTER did not in fact work.
 

Suhler

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There's a discussion of the project in my book:

http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=360&id=1789

and the Westinghouse report is in the supporting materials on the AIAA web site (not in a CD-ROM).

The proof of concept worked, but the test apparatus was big and power-hungry. No practical version was ever flown, as far as I can tell.

Paul Suhler
 

edwest2

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Hi Paul,


I'm still a little vague about plasma stealth and the idea of adding metallic salts to ionize exhaust gas.




Ed
 

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Well, both techniques have as their end result the creation of a cloud of ions to reflect the EM energy from the radar before it can reach the aircraft structure (inlets or ejector, in the case of the A-12). In the case of KEMPSTER, electron guns ionized the air molecules ahead of the inlets. In the case of the exhaust, the metal in the fuel was ionized by the heat of combustion and left ions in the exhaust plume.

The electron gun had the nasty side effect of generating X-rays in the process of ionizing air molecules. Had the equipment been deployed, I imagine that there would have been checklist items to double- and triple-check that it was off before landing, to protect the ground crew.

That's better than one patent I saw, in which the idea was to make the entire aircraft structure so radioactive that it would ionize all the air around it. I doubt anyone ever made a working model of that.

Paul
 

sferrin

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Suhler said:
That's better than one patent I saw, in which the idea was to make the entire aircraft structure so radioactive that it would ionize all the air around it. I doubt anyone ever made a working model of that.

Paul

So possibly Pluto might have been stealthy as well? :D
 

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Not that I ever heard of. Ed Lovick certainly didn't mention it.

Paul
 
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Kiwiguy

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I would have thought the reason for ejecting plasma ahead of the inlets is to dissipate sonic shockwaves. Isn't this more in concept like the splitter boards which F-4 Phantoms had next to their inlets to separate the boundary layer from shockwaves ?

Just fumbling with ideas here but I don't buy the stealth cloud of electrons gobbldegook
 

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Kiwiguy said:
I would have thought the reason for ejecting plasma ahead of the inlets is to dissipate sonic shockwaves. Isn't this more in concept like the splitter boards which F-4 Phantoms had next to their inlets to separate the boundary layer from shockwaves ?

Just fumbling with ideas here but I don't buy the stealth cloud of electrons gobbldegook
I think those inlet cones are there to manage and form shockwaves which are crucial for the ramjet(ramming air into the inlets creating thrust) operating at high M numbers, therefore I surely doubt that the benefit of ionizing air was to dissipate shockwaves in front of the inlets. Nevertheless, current research show that plasma created in front of an aircraft reduced aerodynamic drag as it literally repel sonic shockwaves. Imagine a shuttle gliding through earth atmosphere and creating plasma in front of its blunt nose thus reducing drag(bettering L/D ratio)would allow to glide longer making the landing procedure safer.
I agree on your last sentence though as I do not buy the plasma cloud used to reduce RCS on the SR-71(wherever). Just google some words like "plasma ionized air rocket afterburner engine exhaust plume RCS" and you see many articles dealing with RCS increase and detection. In fact SR-71 was known for possible highest RCS ever detected when traveling Mach3 bcs of the ionized gas , therefore easily detectable with long range P-14 "tall king" radars. Then why bother to lower SR-71 RCS at all ;D
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Quite frankly, this is ridiculous.

It is a matter of historical record that the SR-71 was designed for reduced RCS. One of the main issues with the design was the intake spikes, which gave a significant frontal radar spike. This is attested to by multiple sources.

It is a matter of historical record that Project Kempster was designed to reduce frontal RCS of the SR-71 by putting plasma in front of the intakes. I have read the report on it.

Historic, documented facts are really not up for debate. If that's what floats your boat, find another forum to play in.
 

antigravite

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Non only project KEMPSTER, but project EMERALD too.

KEMPSTER was started because SKYLARK (ECM package) ran behind schedule, by far.

To the best of my knowldege, author Jeannette Remak was first to discuss KEMPSTER in the open. Tail Number #122 was said to host Westinghouse's electron gun device. (She found the tiny holes in the leading edges.) I can give exact references but later. Maybe you guys can help : it's inher book "A-12: Blackbird Declassified".

The code name "EMERALD" surfaced much later.

I know this helps.
 

mrdetonator

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overscan said:
Quite frankly, this is ridiculous.
If that's what floats your boat, find another forum to play in.

Why being so jumpy?? Where I literally said the SR-71 was not designed with reduced RCS in mind? My point here was the plasma experiment turned out to be meaningless/doesnt worked or was probably ment to study something different as well. Interesting, you read a article about, then how it performed? Well, I remember your words on Russian plasma RCS reduction effort.....If it then turned out to be impractical/impossible, then they would be up the creek without a paddle. ;D
What do you think of numerous reports stating that ionized gas particles in plumes indeed increase radar detections of ballistic missiles, or in general about plasma effect on vehicles during earth atmosphere entry. They state ionized gas reflect EM energy pretty well. Regarding the SR-71, was the so called "pather piss" used regularly during missions? It is said that it was used to chemically ionize gas in the exhaust plume, probably to reduce IR signature. Well, probably it turned out helping to increase radar detection range instead.
 

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overscan (PaulMM)

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I do not buy the plasma cloud used to reduce RCS on the SR-71

Your words here specifically indicate you do not believe that KEMPSTER was intended to reduce RCS. It never entered service, and might not have worked, but that doesn't alter the fact that it was intended to do so.

In fact SR-71 was known for possible highest RCS ever detected when traveling Mach3

Not accurate.

Regarding the SR-71, was the so called "pather piss" used regularly during missions? It is said that it was used to chemically ionize gas in the exhaust plume, probably to reduce IR signature. Well, probably it turned out helping to increase radar detection range instead.

According to the CIA "History of the Oxcart" the potential RCS contribution of the exhaust was known at the earliest stages of the program and a caesium-based additive was proposed by (award-winning scientist and radar expert) Edward Purcell to reduce its RCS. In fact this was one of three major factors that got Lockheed the contract for the A-12 over its rival, Convair. It was apparently used on the A-12 ("A-50" additive) and most likely the SR-71 too.

In the event, it was advances in Soviet radar technology, the adoption of computer based tracking earlier than predicted, that meant that the reductions in RCS achieved on the SR-71 over a more conventional design were not enough to allow it to penetrate undetected.
 

antigravite

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Hello hello... Could you expand on the file (aaa.jpg) you scanned? What's the source? Plasma is so tricky/complex a scientific discipline you can virtually say anything convenient to fit your desire. So please, what's the source? Thx. Some interesting work was performed in Stanford a decade ago to find ways and means to lower IR by means of plasma (discharges) applications.
 

quellish

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mrdetonator said:
What do you think of numerous reports stating that ionized gas particles in plumes indeed increase radar detections of ballistic missiles, or in general about plasma effect on vehicles during earth atmosphere entry. They state ionized gas reflect EM energy pretty well. Regarding the SR-71, was the so called "pather piss" used regularly during missions? It is said that it was used to chemically ionize gas in the exhaust plume, probably to reduce IR signature. Well, probably it turned out helping to increase radar detection range instead.

I think you misunderstand. As covered in Paul's book, the ionization additives, and KEMPSTER were intended to reduce RCS by masking areas that had even more reflective parts. For example, in the case of the exhaust additives, the ionized plume masked the very reflective insides of the engines. This had the net effect of reducing overall RCS. KEMPSTER covered the inlet cones.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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http://www.google.com/patents?id=VxY2AAAAEBAJ

This seems to be the patent Paul Suhler mentioned for plasma stealth by coating the aircraft in radioactive materials. Nice... North American Aviation, 1964. http://www.google.com/patents?id=mGsxAAAAEBAJ is quite similar but from 1973.
 

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I found some interesting bit of information about plasma and aircrafts:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/engineering/news/scientists-control-plasma-for-practical-applications

"Jamey Jacob, an aerospace engineer from Oklahoma State University, has replaced mechanical parts on the wings of aircraft with arrays of tiny actuators. The actuators form jets of plasma that can speed up airflow across the surface to increase lift or, if the plumes are pointed into the airflow, increase drag. Jacob is testing the system on small unmanned aerial vehicles. "
Qouted for future reference. You know how sitepages disappear like that into thin air.
I put a interesting part in bold so we can discuss this. Does this mean that an sr-71/a-12 had more drag with the plasmafield ( kempster ) then without it? If this was the case, how much speed was lost?

Cheers,
Rob
 

shockonlip

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Kiwiguy said:
I would have thought the reason for ejecting plasma ahead of the inlets is to dissipate sonic shockwaves. Isn't this more in concept like the splitter boards which F-4 Phantoms had next to their inlets to separate the boundary layer from shockwaves ?

Just fumbling with ideas here but I don't buy the stealth cloud of electrons gobbldegook

I think you are mixing two concepts here, and getting confused.
It's very easy to do.

These guys are talking about the radar reflecting/absorbing properties
of plasmas. And using plasmas to effect the RCS of an aircraft in flight.

You are thinking of electrifying the air ahead of an aircraft to say
negative, and then placing the same charge on the aircraft. Such an e-field
travels at the speed of light, which is certainly faster than some much slower,
but even high mach number, and therefore the air starts to move away from the
path of the aircraft before the aircraft gets there and thus the shock wave
the aircraft fuselage causes is less strong. Some of these ideas also generate
plasmas ahead of the aircraft.

Successful experiments at very low mach numbers, using this idea have been
done at Northrop using electrostatic fields. But these were
long ago. The tech was in its infancy when it was cancelled.

Now as far as the F-4's splitter boards are concerned you
are bringing up a 3rd different technology.

Yes those boards on the F-4 are actually inlet ramps that
move and form a ramp that causes a shock wave to pressurize
the air before it goes into the F-4's inlet. It also has
a boundary layer bleed in it to get rid of the boundary layer
on the ramp itself and the ramp is set away from the F-4's
fuselage so that the boundary layer of the F-4's fuselage
doesn't get sucked into the F-4's inlet as well. This
function doesn't have anything to do with the previous
two techs we mentioned, namely the RCS properties of
plasmas, or using electrical fields to reduce mach number
the fuselage sees. However, if you can ionize the inlet
air you can obviously then use things like magnets on
board the aircraft to direct the air anyhere you want it to
go as far as the aircraft is concerned. So there has been
some research into this where instead of an inlet ramps,
and cowls, that are physical devices, we have instead magnets
that essentially do the same thing, but without the physical
presence of an ramp or cowl. This is nice because there would
be no high temperature impact on a real physical ramp or
cowl to worry about. So this is technoloigy 3. This tech
development is also very early, but some leading researchers
have been spending time on it.
 

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Or you use an EM field or charged surface to direct the ionized air where you want it to go. A friend of mine was working on this back in the 80's, but he couldn't tell me what the application was for; it was part of his PhD research. He was a EE who was majoring in EM fields.
 

sienar

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Project Kempster was an attempt by Westinghouse to reduce the radar return from the A-12 Blackbird's inlets by ionizing the air in front of the inlets. Equipment in the Q bay generated a stream of particles that emerged from the chines just ahead of the inlets.

KEMPSTER was a proof of concept that actually worked well enough that a smaller and less-power-hungry model was designed for the A-12 fleet. It was part of a set of upgrades that were cancelled when OXCART was shut down.

In 2005, the CIA released a 288-page report from Westinghouse that explains the theoretical basis, circuit diagrams, and photos of the electron guns.


Who can find this report???

:cool::cool::cool::cool:

Very interesting reading!
 

sienar

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There are quite a few other documents on kempster. Nothing about what the actual RCS reduction was though.

Of the details I've been able to find, Kempster A was >250lbs per gun and "high power requirements". This was probably the 150Kev and 80MA gun, producing cones of ionized air ~300ft outward from the chines.

Kempster B was a pulsed gun. Haven't found anything more than that but it was likely much lighter and smaller than A. One report mentions a weight under 90lbs per gun being possible with further development, and ~78lbs an optimistic but achievable weight with more funding.
614944

For x-ray shielding there is a report that makes estimates for required lead thickness in the q-bay. This is highly dependent upon what film was being used. 4404 needing none, SO-206 would have some fogging without shielding, 4400 needed 0.6mm of lead on the aft bulkhead and 4401 required double that.

Oh and there are quite a few flight reports that confirm flight testing. Very likely that Kempster A and B were flight tested based on the dates of these tests.
614945
 

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