BAE Systems has taken a page from JK Rowling. The company has tested an ‘invisibility cloak’ that allows a vehicle to blend into its surroundings and can work over infra-red and other frequencies.
The patented technology, known as “Adaptiv,” is based on sheets of hexagonal ‘pixels’ that can change temperature very rapidly. On-board cameras pick up the background scenery and display that infra-red image on the vehicle, allowing even a moving tank to match its surroundings. It can also mimic another vehicle or display identification tags, reducing the risk of fratricide.
With current work focusing mainly on the infra-red spectrum, BAE Systems engineers have combined the pixels with other technologies, which provide camouflage in other parts of the electro-magnetic 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 4×4 vehicle, when viewed in the infra-red spectrum. Futher developmets will be made over the next few years.
“Earlier attempts at similar cloaking devices have hit problems because of cost, excessive power requirements or because they were insufficiently robust,” project manager Peder Sjolund said. “Our panels can be made so strong that they provide useful armour protection and consume relatively low levels of electricity, especially when the vehicle is at rest in ‘stealth recce’ mode and generator output is low.”