On the Floor: Presto, wham-o! Turning a tank into a pickup truck 

10/13/2011 12:00 AM 


Tank Before



Tanks are tough to hide -- that’s why BAE Systems has designed a special skin for combat vehicles that can make an M-1 Abrams look like an old pickup truck.

BAE officials were showing off the company’s Adaptiv technology at the 2011 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington. The high-tech skin, which resembles reptile scales, is designed to fool infrared and thermal detection devices by changing the ambient temperature of a combat vehicle’s exterior to match a civilian automobile or even the trees behind the vehicle.

The technology, developed with the Swedish government, “can fool your enemy into thinking you are something else,” said Peder Slolund, project manager for Adaptiv program. It can help avoid identification and type classification and you will gain those vital seconds which is what it is all about.”

Adaptiv’s tiles can be painted any color and creates a large thermal television screen, he said.

“You can take a picture from the on-board digital sensor of the vehicle’s background. Then this background will be transposed to these tiles directly and the tiles will have the certain temperature to create this pattern or tree that’s behind you,” Slolund said.

“The vehicle’s combat library can have pre-designed patterns for different types of environments such as forests, desert, artic,” Slolund said. “If you are in the desert, you can have a pattern that makes you look like very large stones.”

It also helps to prevent friendly fire incidents, Slolund said. Vehicles can create large text messages on the side of the Adaptiv tiles so it can be identified as friendly.

“The next step is to go into the visual,” he said, describing how BAE is working on a way to make Adaptiv project high-resolution, digital images that can fool the naked eye.