Infrared technique turns tanks invisible

BAE Systems (London, UK) has tested an infrared (IR) "invisibility cloak" that will allow a military vehicle to blend into its surroundings.

Adaptiv infrared technique from BAE Systems turns tanks invisible
Adaptiv infrared technique from BAE Systems turns tanks invisible

BAE Systems (London, UK) has tested an infrared (IR) "invisibility cloak" that will allow a military vehicle to blend into its surroundings.

The system will be displayed on a BAE Systems CV90 armored vehicle at the UK Defence and Security Equipment International Exhibition (London, UK) in late September.

Known as "Adaptiv," the patented technology is based on metal sheets of hexagonal elements that are applied to the outside of a vehicle. The temperature of these elements, which BAE calls "pixels," can be changed very rapidly.

On-board cameras pick up an IR image of the background scenery and heat the pixels on the vehicle to match it, allowing a moving vehicle such as a tank to become invisible to its surroundings. Alternatively, the technology could be used to mimic the characteristics of another vehicle or display identification tags, reducing the risk of unfortunate "friendly fire" incidents.

Current work on the Adaptiv system has focused mainly on the IR spectrum, as this is most important to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), which funds part of the development work.

BAE Systems engineers also say that they can provide camouflage in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum at the same time to provide all-round stealth.

Trials by BAE Systems in mid-July showed that one side of a CV90 could be made effectively invisible or appear to be other objects, including a 4x4 vehicle, when viewed in the IR spectrum.

BAE Systems project manager Peder Sjölund says that earlier attempts at similar cloaking devices hit problems because of cost, excessive power requirements, or because they were insufficiently robust.

He claims that BAE engineers have overcome those issues and that the BAE “pixels” could be made strong enough to provide useful armor protection as well as consume relatively low levels of electricity, especially when a vehicle was at rest and the output from its generator was low.

He said that the pixels could also be resized to achieve stealth for different ranges. A warship or building, for instance, might not need close-up stealth, so it could be fitted with larger panels.

-- Posted by Vision Systems Design

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