US stealth fighters and bombers, such as the F117, B1 and B2, played key roles in the Gulf and Balkans Wars as they are almost impossible to detect using conventional radar. But the ease with which the mobile telephone mast system developed at Roke Manor Research at Romsey in Hampshire can be used to detect the aircraft has greatly concerned the military.
Peter Lloyd, head of projects at the laboratory's sensor department, said:
Stealth aircraft, each of which costs at least $A4 billion, are shaped to confuse radar. A special paint absorbs radio waves, reducing the radar signature to the equivalent of a gull in flight. The Roke Manor scientists discovered that telephone calls sent between mobile phone masts detected the precise position of stealth aircraft with great ease.
"We use just the normal phone calls that are flying about in the ether," Mr Lloyd said.
Mr Lloyd said the range of the mobile telephone base station system is classified information, but it would be at least the maximum distance a mobile phone would work from a base station - about 24 kilometres.
According to military sources, a rough version of a similar system might have been used in Serbia to shoot down an American F117 stealth fighter near Belgrade during the Kosovo campaign. The Serbs fired missiles into an area where they thought the stealth fighter was flying. ...