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Posted 8/26/2009 Printable Fact Sheet
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Tacit Blue Whale
DAYTON, Ohio -- Tacit Blue Whale at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Note: This aircraft is located in the Research & Development Gallery on a secure part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Click here for visiting instructions.

The Tacit Blue (Whale) aircraft was built to test the advances in stealth technology. The USAF, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Northrop Corp. worked together from 1978 to 1985 to demonstrate that curved surfaces on an aircraft result in a low radar return signal from ground radar. With such a low radar return signal, Tacit Blue demonstrated that such an aircraft could operate close to the battlefield forward line without fear of being discovered by enemy radar. It could continuously monitor enemy forces behind the battlefield and provide targeting information to a ground command center.

The aircraft made its first flight in February 1982, and by the conclusion of the program in 1985, had flown 135 times. It had a digital fly-by-wire flight control system to help stabilize the aircraft. Tacit Blue had a single flush inlet on the top of the fuselage to provide air to its two engines.

The aircraft was placed on display at the museum in May 1996.

A plaque mounted in the cockpit recognizes these Tacit Blue (Whale) Pilots:
Mr. Richard Thomas
Col. (Sel) Don Cornell
Lt. Col. Russ Easter
Lt. Col. Ken Dyson
Maj. Dan Vanderhorst

Span: 48 ft. 2 in.
Height: 10 ft. 7 in.
Length: 55 ft. 10 in.
Weight: 30,000 lbs.
Engines: Two Garrett ATF3-6 high-bypass turbofan engines
Armament: None
Crew: One
Cost: Approx. $165 million

Design Operational Speed:
287 mph/250 knots
Operating Altitude: 25-30,000 ft.

Click here to return to the Research & Development Gallery.

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