Yesterday we showed you ArmorWorks' Hyena light all terrain truck. The jeep-like vehicle can carry five special operators and two litters at high-speeds all while armed with up to four machine guns and ISR and communications gear. One of the coolest features of the truck is its TactiCam camouflage system.
TactiCam features lightweight panels of randomley generated 3-D patterns that make it pretty darn difficult for the naked eye to distinguish something like a vehicle from its background environment.
"When you do that, it's hard for both visual and both vehicle-borne identification systems to look you up in a [vehicle ID] table if they can't find" flat surfaces to match up the 2-D silhouette shown in the ID table, Mark Phillips, AmorWorks VP of sales, told DT at last week's Modern Day Marine expo.
However, the coolest part about TactiCam may be the fact that these panels can be treated with infrared masking or radar absorbent materials, making them hard to spot with infrared cameras or even radar. Basically, special coatings reduce the amount of sunlight -- and therefore heat -- absorbed by the vehicle while insulation helps mask the heat generated by the truck and it's occupants.
"The panels are multispectral signature panels, they will handle thermal and radar signatures," said Phillips, who declined to get into their specifics.
The 3-D TactiCam plates are also painted with the company's OptiCam camo system that is custom made for specific battlefields.
"We take hyperspectral color data from the battlespace and we can overlay that on a vehicle wrap and-or on our 3-D TactiCam panels so that you can have, at a very short turnaround time, color camouflage to blend into the [specific] battlespace you're going to be fighting in," said Phillips. "The benefits of having the panels with the camouflage on them is that you could be say, in the mountains of Afghanistan where you're going to have a dirty white panel to match the snow and the rocks and then go down to the desert the next day and be able to swap out the lightweight panels and have a brand new coat of camoflage on there without sending the vehicle back to a depot for repainting."
Phillips said that it would take ArmorWorks about a month to generate a custom set of the 3-D panels.
"I've got a computer algorithm written to generate the 3-D shapes and I can import a CAD file of the outside of a vehicle and I can then place the random pattern 3-D panels on that vehicle and then basically stitch them together," said Phillips. "If I had CAD files of a vehicle and the color data from the battlespace, I can probably turn around camoflage in about a 30-day period of time. Now, I couldn't do that for a fleet of 5,000 vehicles but for a special ops group going into a battle space."
AmorWorks even hopes to bring the TactiCam tech to uniforms.
H added that the U.S. military is already taking hyperspectral images of Afghanistan from the air and the company could even use high-quality photos shot with journalists cameras.
"Embedded photographers, if they capture a raw image [in the right format], I've got the color data I need," said Phillips. "If they take pictures of the bushes the trees the flowers, the soil, the rocks -- anything that's there, I can get enough data from that."
Pretty cool, I've got to say, it reminds me of the work BAE Systems is doing on a similar system that can render tanks nearly invisible to infrared cameras.