Feeds

Sweden rolls out invisible infrared tank

Pixellated thermal armour cloak conceals or disguises

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Engineers in Sweden have announced the development of a prototype tank which is covered in "pixels" that enable it to disappear from thermal images – or to disguise itself as something else.

The "Adaptiv" system, funded by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), covers the test vehicle in hexagonal panels whose temperature can be quickly adjusted. The vehicle's own thermal cameras scan the background against which the tank is seen from each aspect, and the system can then adjust the pixels to match, making it very hard to see using thermal imaging systems. Alternatively, the pixels can be manipulated to present the appearance of something other than a tank – for instance a car or truck.

How future visible-light versions of the stealth tank might look in action.

"Earlier attempts at similar cloaking devices have hit problems because of cost, excessive power requirements or because they were insufficiently robust," says the stealth tank's project leader, Peder Sjölund, who works for the Swedish tentacle of UK-headquartered arms globocorp BAE Systems.

"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."

He adds: "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."

BAE claims that the Adaptiv thermo-camouflage can work even with a tank in motion, though it would probably be hard to hide hot exhaust plumes if it was going at all fast. (Stealth fighter planes dump all the heat they can into their fuel tanks to help with this, but there's no suggestion that Adaptiv includes such measures as yet.) Thermal imaging is particularly important in armoured warfare, which is probably why the system has been applied to tanks rather than warships etc.

The company hints that the spectrum in which the stealth cloak works may be widened in future, saying in a statement issued today:

Current work focuses mainly on the infra-red spectrum. However, 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, which will be developed further over the next few years.

This might see Adaptiv-clad tanks able to disappear not only in thermal imagers but also, perhaps, nightsights working in the shorter-wavelength infrared bands – or even, perhaps, able to accurately mimic their background even to the human eye in daylight. Such kit has long been rumoured to be under development.

An Adaptiv-clad CV90 light recce tank will be exhibited at the DSEi armsbiz expo in London later this month. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.