As we honor our military’s fallen today, I think about some of the work we do for national security. Maybe one of the most interesting patents that came out of Smith & Hopen, PA was Ron’s for the F22 Raptor (US Pat. 4836030) filed on behalf of Lockheed Martin.
The F-22 Raptor is an American single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF). Its structure contains a significant amount of high-strength materials to withstand stress and heat of sustained supersonic flight. Respectively, titanium alloys composites comprise 42% and 24% of the structural weight. Accordingly, the use of the new materials presented an opportunity for Lockheed Martin and our inventor to improve the ability to detect structural damage.
The patent involved a mesh of optical fibers embedded in the composite wings and fuselage of the F22. Damage to the airframe disrupts the light flowing through the fibers and locates the damage for the the pilot.
DOD initially imposed a secrecy order on the patent filing and the government even compensated our inventor for the expropriation. Eventually, the secrecy order was lifted which is why we can even discuss it now and it appears on the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website.