BAE technology allows vehicles to blend into their environment

Technology that allows a vehicle to blend into its surrounding environment has been tested by BAE Systems.

The patented system, dubbed Adaptiv, is reportedly capable of working over infrared and other frequencies, and is based on hexagonal-shaped panels (‘pixels’) that can change temperature very rapidly.

On-board cameras are claimed to pick up the background scenery and display that infrared image on the vehicle, allowing a stationary or moving tank to match its surroundings. Alternatively, BAE says it can mimic another vehicle or display identification tags, reducing the risk of death from ‘friendly fire’.

Current work focuses mainly on the infrared spectrum, as this is most important to the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV), which funds part of the work.

BAE said in a statement that its 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 further developed over the next few years.

Trials by BAE in mid-July showed that one side of a CV90 could be made effectively invisible or appear to be other objects, including a 4×4 vehicle, when viewed in the infrared spectrum.

Project manager Peder Sjölund said: ‘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.

‘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.’

Adaptiv will be displayed in infrared mode on a BAE Systems CV90 armoured vehicle at the UK Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition later this month.