In a challenging economy, there are few areas of job growth and stability. Most industrial fields are facing unprecedented layoffs and cutbacks in service. Over the past decade there has traditionally been some stability in the defense industry. However, as many corporations in the defense industry also have a large exposure to the civilian aerospace industry there have been cuts there as well.
One area that has seen marked stability and even growth is the area of electronic warfare. Military equipment is increasingly relying upon electronic warfare for advantages over adversaries. One of the main areas in the field of Electronic Warfare (EW) is Electronic Protection.
Probably the most well known branch of EW, electronic protection includes active and passive systems. Passive systems include stealth technology. Stealth technology is most well known on airplanes such as the stealth fighter (F117-Nighthawk) or the stealth bomber (B2-Spirit). The development of a stealth platform requires multiple approaches. For each these approaches individuals with varied expertise and skills are required.
Radar absorbing materials are designed to envelope the aircraft. These materials must have characteristics that allow them to absorb radar waves while at the same time offering structural integrity capable of meeting the high environmental demands of a military aircraft. Physicists, chemists, and mechanical engineers often play a substantial role in developing these materials.
The shape of the aircraft is an important aspect of stealth technology. The shape of the aircraft is developed to minimize the reflection of radar waves but must of course still allow for stable flight and evasive action. In this branch of development of stealth, structural engineers and those with experience in aeronautics and aerodynamics are required.
Another area of stealth technology is in thermodynamics. Since many missile systems rely wholly or at least partially upon heat sensing, a stealth aircraft needs to minimize its heat signature as well as its radar signature. Elaborate structural changes to an aircraft funnel and dissipate heat in ways that conventional aircraft do not. Engineers with experience and knowledge in thermodynamics and heat transfer are sought after for this field.