New camouflage technology from BAE hides war machines

Sep 07, 2011 by Nancy Owano report

(PhysOrg.com) -- BAE Systems says it has a camouflage system that can render battle machines like tanks invisible or even seen as other objects in the immediate environment to protect against attack. The 'cloak' applied to a tank, which is BAE's illustrated object to showcase its Adaptiv technology, can enable the tank to blend into the environment undetected or to look like another object entirely, avoiding night vision surveillance equipment and infrared targeting by aircraft. In so doing, the Adaptiv technology can mask the vehicle's infrared signature.

The Adaptiv cloak consists of a sheet of hexagonal hand-sized patches, or as BAE calls them, pixels. Their thermo electric material can switch temperatures quickly. On-board thermal cameras are what drive the panels, picking up whatever scenery is around and then showing that image on the vehicle. Around 1,000 of these panels can cover a small tank.

BAE field-tested its technology on a Swedish CV90 tank made to blend into the scenery without detection. Alternatively, the pixels can protect gear by manipulating their appearance. can be made to look like cars, large rocks, trucks,or cows, for example.

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), helped fund BAE's project; use of the infra-red spectrum in warfare has been an important focus for them.

BAE estimates that the technology could be ready for production in two years. Later this month BAE will demonstrate the technology on a CV90 tank at the UK Defense and Security Equipment International exhibition from September 13 to 16. According to reports, research about the Adaptiv approach has been submitted to Britain’s Ministry of Defence.

Since the days when infantry men marched in confidence wearing helmets with hanging leaves, technology has come a long way and has a way to go in the use of in the face of modern weapons. BAE sees its Adaptiv technology as a breakthrough, however. Past attempts have entailed excessive power requirements and that's where Adaptiv stands out. Adaptiv project manager Pader Sjolund in a statement said Adaptiv panels in contrast consume relatively little power. "Our panels can be made so strong that they provide useful armor protection and consume relatively low levels of electricity," he said.

No doubt developments and ideas to address camouflage for warfare will continue in and outside BAE Systems. "Invisibility cloaks" is a topic of research that has been explored for some time. In 2006, Sir John Pendry at Imperial College London, led a group that focused on a "transformation optics" technique that involves the design of materials that steer light around objects, making them disappear from view.

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More information: Press release

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User comments : 15

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epsi00
5 / 5 (13) Sep 07, 2011
The cows, in war time, have now become a legitimate target. Nothing can stop progress.
axemaster
2.7 / 5 (7) Sep 07, 2011
Next they'll do is have it project the image of children. After all, military forces wouldn't open fire on a child without looking first, right?

Wrong.
Dichotomy
4.3 / 5 (11) Sep 07, 2011
keep your inexperienced comments to yourself axemaster. As a veteran who deployed repeatedly I never put a bullet down range unless I knew what I was shooting at, and I ensured the troops I went out with did the same. Not only is it ethical, its also common sense. You don't want to inadvertently shoot friends or allies. As for children, if a terrorist straps a bomb to one and tells the child to run up and give you a hug what would you do....? Oh that's right, you're safe in ignorant bliss at the fact you don't have to deal with those real world issues. You're welcome.

P.S. No the solution is not shoot the child, but again not being a deployed veteran you wouldn't know that would you?
Isaacsname
1 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2011
This is older than Betty White
NotAsleep
not rated yet Sep 07, 2011
We've got a video of a C-130 circling over some mountains looking for a few Taliban that just shot up the base. We would've never found them had it not been for the one dude that couldn't sit still under the big brown tarp in the shape of a rock.

I guess someday there might be an enemy that would validate using this kind of technology but perhaps not today. It'll go the way of the F-22: funded and forgotten with zero combat missions after ten years of active service
Temple
3 / 5 (2) Sep 07, 2011
avoiding night vision surveillance equipment and infrared targeting by aircraft

Their thermo electric material can switch temperatures quickly.


Avoiding infrared targeting? Somehow that sounds doubtful.

Cooling panels would create *more* heat, and that heat is going to have to be put somewhere. A cool tank-shaped blob in the middle of a huge heat plume might just look suspicious. No matter how they manage to exhaust the heat or otherwise camouflage the overall heat signature, I'm sure tank gunners can be trained to identify it.

Sounds like an interesting technology (imagine the private uses!), but I doubt it will have much war-worthiness.
Burnerjack
2 / 5 (2) Sep 07, 2011
Dichotomy, excellent comment. Ironic that those who criticize the military can only feel free to do so BECAUSE of the military.
mosahlah
not rated yet Sep 07, 2011
Excellent stuff. If this technology is even marginally affordable and effective, this is the wave of the future. We already discriminate effectively our own forces using FBCB2. Now we will have the ability to compromise our enemies ability to distinguish what he sees on the battlefield, even if it's not completely effective. The "fog of war" just needs a little help to reduce our enemies reaction time and give us the edge when it matters the most. Remember, China's military budget doubles every 4 years and will exceed the USA's military budget by 2017 (using purchasing price parity). We will need every advantage we can find when the Chinese regime elects to throw their military weight at one of our allies.
StarGazer2011
3 / 5 (2) Sep 08, 2011
how do they hide the exhaust?
Temple
5 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2011
how do they hide the exhaust?


Only two options for all the heat (extra heat with the cooling panels): store it or exhaust it.

Storing it would require a large vat of liquid coolant with extremely high heat capacity that was pre-chilled as cold as you could get it. Such a heat plant could, with a complex cooling system, absorb any heat generated by the tank. You could keep it cool via refrigeration (generating extra heat) while the tank is operating in normal mode, and when in heat-stealth mode, you'd start channelling your waste heat into the super cold coolant. Of course, you'd have to have a huge amount of that stuff or it wouldn't last very long.

That would work, it's even somewhat plausible, but obviously highly impractical.

The only real solution offered is to exhaust the heat. So, again, you've got a huge tank-scale heat signature and no tank (or a cool silhouette of a tank in the middle of it). Somehow I think tankers/airstrikers would figure out how to spot it.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Sep 08, 2011
Storing it would require a large vat of liquid coolant with extremely high heat capacity that was pre-chilled as cold as you could get it. Such a heat plant could, with a complex cooling system, absorb any heat generated by the tank. Of course, you'd have to have a huge amount of that stuff or it wouldn't last very long.

That would work, it's even somewhat plausible, but obviously highly impractical.


How about the tank's fuel?
jackofshadows
not rated yet Sep 08, 2011
NotAsleep, nice to see you live up to your handle. Not to put too fine a point on this, but the whole idea of camoflage is to *break-up* the signal (visual wave-legnths, infra-red, what have you). That's what try to achieve with camo-paint: lighten dark areas, darken areas that are normally light. I can think of some nice refinements using this gear. I'm sure BAE has as well.
nizzim
5 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2011
Here is a video of the tank in action

http://www.popsci...-sensors
Magnette
not rated yet Sep 12, 2011
The cows, in war time, have now become a legitimate target. Nothing can stop progress.


Excellent, reduction of greenhouse gasses at the same time :-)

It's great to see Brit engineering can still be at the forefront of things, we have really suffered with a big lack of creative engineering in this country over the last few decades.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Sep 12, 2011
Excellent video! It makes sense that this system provides IR invisibility only. The tank will only have the heat signatures of cows and cars, not actually look like them in the visible spectrum