Called "Adaptiv," the patented technology is based on sheets of hexagonal "pixels" that can change temperature very rapidly. Cameras on the vehicle pick up the background scenery and display that infrared image on the vehicle, allowing even a moving tank to match its surroundings. Alternatively, it can mimic another vehicle or display identification tags, reducing the risk of fratricide.
Current work focuses mainly on the infrared spectrum, as this is most important to the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration, which funds part of the work. However, BAE Systems engineers have combined the pixels with other technologies that provide camouflage in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum at the same time to provide all-round stealth, which will be developed further over the next few years.
Trials by BAE Systems in mid-July showed one side of a CV90 vehicle could be made effectively invisible or appear to be other objects, including a 4X4 vehicle, when viewed in the infrared spectrum.
"Earlier attempts at similar cloaking devices have hit problems because of cost, excessive power requirements or because they were insufficiently robust," said project manager Peder Sjolund. "Our panels can be made so strong that they provide useful armor protection and consume relatively low levels of electricity, especially when the vehicle is at rest in 'stealth recce' mode and generator output is low.
"We can resize the pixels to achieve stealth for different ranges. A warship or building, for instance, might not need close-up stealth, so could be fitted with larger panels," Sjolund said.
The system will be shown at the U.K. Defense and Security Equipment International exhibition later this month.
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