The military's ability to be stealth could spell a matter of life and death.
However, what happens when the military is too stealth? Is there even such a thing?
Apparently so, as the Associated Press reported Tuesday that the future USS Zumwalt is too stealthy for its own good. According to the AP, the Navy destroyer will need to be outfitted at sea with a special reflective material that can be raised just to make it more visible to other ships floating in the water.
Essentially, the USS Zumwalt was made too well, because its original intentions to show up as a smaller vessel on the radar has somewhat backfired, with the reflective coating being needed to identify the behemoth at sea and keep other ships and boats from unintentionally hitting it.
A lobsterman in Maine even told the AP that the massive USS Zumwalt appears as just a 40- to 50-foot fishing boat on his radar — a scary scenario when you get closer to it at sea, only to realize it's really 610 feet in length.
"It's pretty mammoth when it's that close to you," Lawrence Pye told the AP upon being alarmed by the sheer size of the ship.
Captain James Downey, program manager behind the massive warship, says that, despite its incredible size, the USS Zumwalt is 50 times harder to detect than a traditional Navy destroyer. How? Well, he credits the warship's angular shape and other design features for its stealthiness.
It's so stealthy that the Navy has had to test its degree of stealthiness with and without the reflective material being raised, Downey told the AP. While being too stealth would help in terms of surprising an enemy, it would backfire during heavy fog or while in congested ship traffic — thus the need for the reflectors, which the AP likens to metal cylinders. The last thing the Navy would want is to spend time having to repair the Zumwalt due to an unintended collision.
That's part of the reason for the Navy continuing to test out the massive ship, with the AP reporting that the Zumwalt will complete its final trial this month, before being delivered to the Navy and commissioned in Baltimore this October. It is then slated to be in operational use in 2018.