DSEi: Vehicle Tiles Fool Enemy Sensors
LONDON — A new camouflage coating can now make tanks vanish from the view of infrared cameras.
BAE Systems’ Adaptiv product consists of a series of hexagonal tiles, or pixels, that are installed on the exterior of a vehicle. These tiles remove heat from the surface of the vehicle, dropping its temperature as much as 70 degrees and making it vanish from heat-seeking sensors. Scientists also have proven that they can take a heat signature from another object and transfer it to a vehicle that needs to be protected. In an example shown by a BAE official at the Defense and Security Equipment International show, a tank becomes a civilian car when looking through an infrared camera.
A spokesman compared the function of the tiles to that of a refrigerator or cooler. The system is controlled by an onboard computer and can be used to communicate to friendly forces as well.
It takes about 1,500 pixels to cover a vehicle. At DSEi, BAE had just one side of a CV-90 tank covered, but the company is working on making flexible tiles for helicopters and ships. From a distance, the six-sided objects look like reptile skin on the side of the vehicle. Company officials said they could also put armor on the inside of the tiles. While project manager Peder Sjolund wouldn’t say exactly how much weight the cloak, with or without armor, would add to the vehicle, he said it wouldn’t be enough to effect performance.
BAE will be able to provide Adaptiv to customers in about two years, Sjolund said. The concept already has been pitched to defense officials in the United Kingdom.
The research into the technology began in the 1990s when a Swedish study found an alarming number of sensors in use during conflicts. Today, it is more than likely that the enemy will have access to infrared cameras, BAE officials said.
“It is impossible in the future to be undetected,” Sjolund said. “So it’s better to be unclassified.”
If the vehicle is up against a building, it can become a wall. In the desert, it looks like a pile of stones. If the threat comes from the air, the tank “will melt into the ground,” he said.