BAE Developing IR Cloaking Device

We've seen plenty on stealth jets and stealthy ships. Now, BAE Systems is hustling to give ground vehicles what almost amounts to a nighttime cloaking device.

Called ADAPTIV, the system features hundreds of hexagonal metal "pixels" that quickly change temperature to match the heat signature of a vehicles' surroundings -- therefore rendering it invisible to infra-red cameras. ADAPTIV pixels can even be programmed to mimic the heat signature and shape of other vehicles; making a tank look like a car, for example.

The pixels can easily be bolted onto a vehicles' hull or ballistic armor plates, according to the company.

From a BAE announcement:

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. Alternatively, it can mimic another vehicle or display identification tags, reducing the risk of fratricide.
BAE engineers are currently focused on making ADAPTIV capable of defeating the infrared detection equipement. The company, however, soon expects to begin making a version of ADAPTIV capable of rendering a vehicle invisible during daylight.
Current work focuses mainly on the infra-red spectrum, as this is most important to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), which funds part of the work. 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.

Project manager, Peder Sjölund explains: "Earlier attempts at similar cloaking devices have hit problems because of cost, excessive power requirements or because they were insufficiently robust. 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."

Check out the video after the jump showing an ADAPTIV-equipped Swedish tank disappearing from IR view and changing its heat signature to look like a car.

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