National Museum of the USAF   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

Home > Fact Sheets > Northrop Tacit Blue

NORTHROP TACIT BLUE

Posted 11/4/2014 Printable Fact Sheet
 
Photos
Previous ImageNext Image
Tacit Blue Whale
DAYTON, Ohio -- Tacit Blue Whale at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Download HiRes

Note: This aircraft is located in the Research & Development Gallery on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Click here for requirements to visit this gallery.

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

SPECIFICATIONS:
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

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

Click here to return to the Research & Development Gallery.


Find Out More
Blue line
Lectures
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Ken Dyson: "Have Blue and Tacit Blue" (01:11:18)
Blue line
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.







 Inside the Museum

ima cornerSearch

ima cornerAircraft

 


tabCategories
tabRelated Links
tabConnect

Museum Virtual TourMuseum Facebook PageMuseum Twitter PageMuseum Instagram
Museum Google Plus PageMuseum Pinterest PageMuseum YouTube ChannelMuseum Flickr Page
Museum PodcastsMuseum E-newsletter Sign-upMuseum RSS Feeds



Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     USA.gov     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act