It is 1977 year of a slightly altered history of our world. The Soviet Union has invented, and USA have stolen blueprints (or opposite, USA invented, Soviet Union stole) of a very stealthy flying machine. So, both countries can start mass production of this machines in a few years.

This machines has these properties:

  1. It can be painted in any proper camouflage - the top part can be painted in "summer forest", "autumn forest", "desert". The bottom can be sky blue, gray, or even the pitch dark for operating at night. So, it is not fully invisible, but it is hard to see, as modern camouflaged war machines on good background.

  2. It is 600 kg machine with easy frame, that can carry about 1000kg of weight. Unfolded, it has size of err.... big civil helicopter, folded - it can be stored in army truck.

  3. It has mobility of helicopter - vertical takeoff, can fly in any direction, can even do a barrel roll and withstand few G overloads.

  4. It's speed is up to 300 km per hour (187 miles per hour), while the cruise movement is performed on heights less than 100 meters and speed about 200 km per hour (125 miles per hour).

  5. It flies silently - ordinary human can hear light buzz if the machine fly in few meters just above his or her head.

  6. This machine do not have any light and heat emitting parts like engine nozzles, and it's temperature is only few degrees higher than environment.

  7. This machine costs the same amount as a tank - both USA and Soviet Union can easily build and maintain a few thousand of this machines. Evens wealthy individuals can get one.

  8. This machine can be fully charged from ordinary power socket in few days. And full charge allows it to fly few hours on full speed.

  9. You can install missiles or machine guns on this machine, but it still can carry no more than 1 ton of weight

  10. You can install some light armor on it, but in general this machine is fragile - it can be easily put down with single buck shot from hunting rifle because it propellers' substitutes are big and easy to break. So, with or without armor it is far from flying tank or combat helicopter like Apache or Mi-28.

  11. UPD: This machine is mainly built from radio transparent polymers, it is really hard to be found by radar, especially when it flies below 100 meters following the landscape..

  12. It has compact, high density and unstable batteries, so, well placed shot can set this machine on fire. (Thanks, @JohnDallman)

  13. You can educate helicopter pilots to use this machine in few days.

My idea was to use this machine to silently move paratroopers/spies/saboteurs behind the enemy lines under the cover of the night and as rescue vehicle or use it as a recon craft.

Also it can carry nuclear warheads to enemy territory to be secretly installed and armed for future use.

Unfortunately, i haven't served in army, and i do not know of other uses of such machines.

So, how does this stealthy flying machines can be used in modern warfare?

PS: I do not ask, if this machine is realistic. To build it, we need to invent very efficient engines and motivators for flying machines.

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    $\begingroup$ Something very similar to this was used to deploy special forces which killed Osama Bin Laden. Very useful in semi-hilly terrain as you can hide from sight, but not so much in full front warfare. $\endgroup$
    – Chinu
    Jul 29, 2016 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ Two questions: it's very quiet, but how is its radar signature? Helicopters are very hard to make radar-stealthy, because they unavoidably have large exposed moving parts. Second, another good reason for its fragility is the incredible density of its electrical power storage, which has enough power packed in there to make a good-sized bomb. This vehicle will tend to explode if the power storage gets damaged. $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2016 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Chinu - "Something very similar to this was used to deploy special forces which killed Osama Bin Laden." <- No. Not at all, in fact. The SEALs were deployed in Black Hawk helicopters which are 20 meters (64 foot) long, and weigh 5 tonnes (11,605 pounds) - empty. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jul 29, 2016 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ I'd also like to point out that you're asking for people's opinions, which is the definition of "opinion-based", and a close reason ... $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jul 29, 2016 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @vodolaz095 I see. I am no native speaker either, and I don't know what the word you are trying to use would be, but now I understand what you meant. $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2016 at 14:53

3 Answers 3


There are a few points you haven't covered:

  • Radar, which is a pretty big one. If it's not an oversight on your part, it's still a very visible aircraft. Strike that one.

  • It's hotter than the environment. It would make it more difficult to target with IR missiles, but conceivably you can also develop sensors capable to detect that difference.

  • It doesn't emit light but it's not in fact invisible to humans. The absence of light would be a big telling sign that there is in fact something hovering above you. It would also still cast a shadow. In any case, you can detect it with you eyeballs even if you can't technically see it. And if they can see you they can shoot you.

On an related note, that would also be a good source of UFO sightings. It's the 70s after all.

Now what if you had a perfectly undetectable small aircraft with light weaponry? It would definitely help insert troops behind enemy lines. Intelligence services would love that.

The area where it would be the most terrifying in a Cold War era context would be as a part of the nuclear triad. An undetectable vessel for nuclear warheads is essentially the holy grail of nuclear dissuasion.

If you had enough nukes to completely destroy your enemy in one strike, that would be a game changer. But if the enemy has the same capability, you don't know that they don't have choppers right above your head with a nuke with your name on it just in case you try something silly like starting a nuclear war.

If it came down to open nuclear war, the fact they are undetectable doesn't change much. You can still launch everything you've got regardless of your ability to detect incoming projectiles.

  • $\begingroup$ As for the nuclear triad idea, I doubt that either of the superpowers would bite on that. The airborne part of the triad was always the one everyone was most nervous about due to the much higher likelihood of accidents (of which there were several involving nuclear weapons) for airborne delivery systems. Helicopters are inherently even LESS stable/reliable/safe than bombers and subject to a much higher rate of crashes. $\endgroup$
    – JBiggs
    Jul 29, 2016 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ @JBiggs The real question is does that outweigh the tactical advantage of being able to deliver bombs undetected? $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2016 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ In my opinion, it definitely does. You have to remember that the Cold War was "cold". It never developed into a "hot" war for a very good reason (both sides realized they could basically wipe out humanity if they let it get going). A lot of the thought that went into systems that delivered nuclear weapons was much more along the lines of "is there any way this could go wrong in training or on one of our bases?" than "cool! This will let us bomb them easier". The Soviets did invest in "suitcase nuke" tech, but that just shows there were LOTS of ways to sneak a nuke in, and most were ignored. $\endgroup$
    – JBiggs
    Jul 29, 2016 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ For example: how about you just put a nuke in the hold of a fishing boat flagged to a neutral nation and float it into NY harbor? Why bother with "Boomers" and nuclear bombers? The superpowers didn't want to FIGHT a nuclear war (which NOBODY would ever win), they wanted to PREPARE for one. They wanted to signal to the other side that they could hit back if necessary. Suitcase nukes and truck nukes and fishing vessel nukes were NOT game changers in the Cold War. $\endgroup$
    – JBiggs
    Jul 29, 2016 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ @JBiggs I didn't say it would make it more likely for one side to start the war. I said it would take nuclear dissuasion to the next level. There's no counter to an undetectable aircraft besides making sure it never takes off. The focus in the 60s and 70s was reaction time, not safety. The US nuke code was eight zeroes. They were more afraid that they wouldn't be able to react than they were afraid of an illegitimate strike order. A tool like fits right in. It makes retaliation immediate and uncounterable. In that regards, it changes things. $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2016 at 22:03

A much more stable world, and no climate crisis

The biggest change here is not on warfare. It is on energy. Essentially you have just discovered the holy grail of ridding us of fossil fuels: high density energy storage.

We keep using fossil fuels for a few very tangible reasons:

  • they hold lots of energy per unit of weight and volume
  • they are storable
  • they allow fast outtakes of energy when you need it
  • they are mobile

Batteries do not live up to all these things. Most importantly they are low in energy density, and they are not very mobile.

But you just changed that. You have invented a mobile, fast charging, high density battery. And you did this in 1977.

This is significant, because this allows whoever has this technology to break the dependence on oil. And this has been a goal of all the superpowers for a very long time, because dependence on oil is a weakness and a de-stabilizing factor.

With that we also start halting the climate crisis. Because with energy storage of this kind, we can start using intermittent or non-variable non.fossil energy energy sources, which is to say vind power (intermittent), solar power (intermittent) and nuclear energy (non-variable).

Also: you have just enabled using electricity to power road vehicles; you invented the electric car/truck in 1977.

Considering the time period, this will have a very large impact on the stability of the world. This is before the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (which means people will not be as reluctant to increase their reliance on electricity and thus nuclear power). Is is before the oil wars in the Middle East in the 1980's and onwards. This is before the rise of the middle class in richly populated countries like India and China, and the very heavy pollution that followed.

In conclusion: You just made the world a much safer and clearner place. :)

  • $\begingroup$ thanks! I haven't tried to see things from this point of view. $\endgroup$
    – vodolaz095
    Jul 29, 2016 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ @vodolaz095 I know what you were after: you wanted a story element, but you got some unintended consequences. Happens all the time. :) If it is any consoaltion, you are not the first one to do this sort of thing. The entire premise of the James Bond movie "The Man With The Golden Gun" falls into the same trap. The McGuffin of the film is made out to be the "Solex Agitator" device. Well converting solar energy to something usable is no big deal; mankind has been doing that for a long time. But Scaramangas energy storage technology is truly revolutionary. :) $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Jul 29, 2016 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ What I think is cool is the idea of a world in which everything Karnefors says is true, but in which this technology actually ends up leading to nuclear conflict anyway :). Because just as you can make the nice, peachy optimistic outlook seem inevitable, so too can you say that this device makes certain countries which possess it unstoppable diplomatically. USA does not need to worry about oil; it can do what it wants. Similarly, directly after the 1973 oil crisis, the SU doesn't get trade with partners for modern tech; its position becomes more dire. $\endgroup$
    – Adam Wykes
    Jul 29, 2016 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ China eventually gets this tech. NK probably does, too. What now? $\endgroup$
    – Adam Wykes
    Jul 29, 2016 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ @AdamWykes They become less poor and can provide for their people better. This may slow the downfall of all "red" super- and not-so-super powers. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Jul 29, 2016 at 14:28

It might have triggered World War Three. It might not have changed warfare all that much. Alternate history is tricky that way.

By the way, in your question you describe one specific model. That is unrealistic. You have a couple of new technologies that can be assembled in different configurations. There will be two-seaters, ten-seaters, twenty-seaters. Some will trade range for speed, others payload for cost. There are slicks and gunships, observation and cargo helicopters.

In my answer, I will assume that there were ten-ton armored monsters like the Hind, only with more payload at hot and high altitudes. And there were ten-ton giants like the Sea King, only with more range (and more armor for the CSAR versions). And there were single-seaters which can be carried by a single person and disassembled into one large suitcase.

During the Cold War, two heavily armed camps faced each other across the plains of Central Europe and the hills of Korea. Almost everybody believed that any warfare would have escalated quickly to an all-out nuclear exchange.

  • So your stealth helicopters might have been part of a doomsday arsenal, frequently exercised but never used. They came too late for Vietnam, they were not given to the Mujahideen when those were still allies of the West, and then the Warsaw Pact crumbled from internal contradictions.
  • As you mentioned, Hawks on both sides might have used the the helicopters for covert operations. And if tensions rise, one side or the other might have suspected foul play. Able Archer is perhaps the best-known example. So the existence of those helicopters, even if never used, might have raised tensions and triggered the war.
  • Both sides might have deployed those helicopters during proxy wars. If the Soviets had given theirs to Afghan government, the West might not have held back as assumed in my first bullet point.

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