Since the middle of the 20th century, when the Second World War had just ended, and the threat of a new clash was already in the air, the defense industry has been actively developing. And although by the 1980s, the degree of tension subsided somewhat, but it was during this period that the concept appeared, which became the fruit of the labors of the arms race. We are talking about stealth technology - an aircraft invisible to radars. Today it is strongly associated with the American military-industrial complex. But not everyone knows that the Germans had many chances to "catch up and overtake" the United States, but it did not happen.
The German aircraft industry began to work actively in 1955. But unofficial projects have appeared before. For example, the Heinkel company has been working on the creation of a supersonic interceptor for Egypt since 1951. As a result, this project became the main competitor of the F-104. In the following years, the Germans made every effort to develop a full-fledged vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. However, in reality, the project, which looked quite promising on paper, did not work out. The same fate befell the development of the promising German Tfk-90 fighter.
But in the 1970s, German scientists and engineers turned their attention to another direction of development - the "invisibility" of aviation in the radio range. And if the American stealth projects were already known almost everywhere in the world, then they did not know much about the German ones, and this despite the fact that they were quite active and even successful. So, in 1981, a computer program was created in Germany to calculate the reflection of radio waves. And, given the fact that the first F-117 was tested in the United States in the same year, we can say that German scientists have not gone far from their American colleagues in their developments.
In Germany, after getting acquainted with the calculations of scientists and aircraft designers on "stealth", it was decided to continue work in this direction. Several concepts for the most invisible machine were developed at once. But the highest priority was given to the creation of a fighter. One of the most famous nowadays German "stealth" projects was the LA-2000 aircraft commissioned by Dornier. It was designed with a deltoid flying wing design. However, following their American colleagues, German engineers were faced with the problem of simultaneously ensuring sufficient maneuverability and stealth. Therefore, in the mid-1980s, work on the creation of the Dornier LA-2000 strike aircraft stopped.
Then the specialists of Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm, which was one of the most experienced in aircraft construction in Germany at that time, got down to business. In the process of development, they faced a lot of obstacles and problems, however, in the end they created an aircraft called Lampyridae, which means "firefly" in Latin.
It seemed that just about, and the Germans will have their own "stealth", however, even after the creation of the prototype, new difficulties arose. It turned out that due to the desire to reduce the size of the aircraft, it was made too small - there was no room for internal weapons bays in it, although it was the fighter that was designed. And an increase in size would entail a decrease in the level of "invisibility".
Another problem, oddly enough, was the pilot's flashlight. In the original, "flat" version, it almost did not give the pilot the required view. I had to opt for a rounded lantern, which also negatively affected stealth.
By 1986, it became finally clear: it would not be possible to create a full-fledged combat vehicle from Lampyridae - too many design inaccuracies were made. Funding for the project began to gradually decrease and in 1987 it was completely stopped.
But the Germans did not give up, especially when some of the documents on American stealth were declassified and it became clear that the idea itself was promising. The development was already undertaken by Daimler-Benz Aerospace AG (DASA), where a project called TDEFS (Technology Demonstrator for Enhancement and Future Systems) was created. TDEFS was more perfect than Lampyridae, and it could have every chance of success, but the time and the situation in the world intervened - the Cold War ended, Germany was united, and this meant the final leveling of all fears about the invasion of the socialist camp into the western territory, and this fear and became the reason for the active development of the military-industrial complex of Germany.
As a result, this promising project was also closed due to the cessation of funding, although this happened only in 1994. Subsequently, DASA used many years of experience on these projects in the AT-2000 MAKO combat trainer project.
But the Americans continue to actively work with stealth technology, and not only in the air - What is the latest American stealth ship M80 Stiletto capable of?