Tanks are easy to see by day and, since they generate a lot of heat, they are also easy to spot at night, at least for those equipped with infrared imaging equipment. In August, the British company BAE Systems unveiled its new Adaptiv system, which hides a tank's heat signature beneath hundreds of electrothermal cells bolted to the vehicle's exterior.
Infrared sensors detect the pattern of heat reflected by a tank's immediate surroundings and, just as a processor guides pixels in a computer screen to form an image, adjust the temperature of individual cells to collectively form a heat signature that matches the environment. In infrared, the tank appears to disappear into the background. BAE says the system will be battle-ready in two years.
The Adaptiv system's hundreds of 5.5-inch hexagonal cells are heated or cooled with electric current to create customized heat signatures. The system is dynamic, meaning a tank operator could match the vehicle's heat signature to its surroundings when stationary but assume the signature of a preprogrammed object, such as a car or a cow, when moving. When friendly fire is a concern, operators could also exaggerate a tank's signature to prevent confusion. BAE has already started testing its next generation of cells, which will include an undisclosed coating that can change color and brightness.
Engine exhaust may be too hot for Adaptiv to conceal completely. But borrowing techniques from stealth aircraft construction, tank manufacturers could incorporate broad and flat vents that produce ribbons of exhaust, which mix more rapidly with cool air. The vents would also be low to the ground so that exhaust would be disguised by the heat signature of the surrounding vegetation.
The Army has been testing hybrid engines in combat vehicles. In tanks, a silent electric engine could be flipped on for stealth combat missions.
Read more about the invisible warriors of the future: The engineering breakthroughs that will make everything from planes to subs to soldiers...disappear.
The research money should go in detecting IED devices.
Future tanks that will be invisible to infra red detection will still be blown up by rudimentary IEDs.
A 6 million $ M1 tank blown up by a thousand dollar IED, this can't be the way to win a war!
depends what kind of war you are fighting. Yes IEDs were weapons of choice for AL-quaeda and the Taliban sympathizers but fighting another nation with an advanced army having this tank gives us an edge
This isn't exactly new either folks, I saw this about a year ago and it is quite amazing watching the full sized tank instantly shrink down to a car when watching via infrared, those panels can control the heat signature and turn it into whatever it wants, or even fully off. Quite impressive. As material tech improves so does shielding to those IEDs.
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
I agree with PopCornPop. While what Midoman says is true, we have to ask ourselves what is the more likely scenario? I'd say future warfare will more likely be against terrorist cells and not 1st-world nations.
So, if we win a war but are bankrupt at the end, who's the winner? Ask the Soviet Union about the cold war. What Soviet Union you say? Exactly.
cells that change color and brightness? hard to blow up a tank if you can't see it or hear it, cheers
World War 3, humanity gets eradicated. Mother Nature profits. Earth wins.
Maybe evil aliens should invade our planet and make us slaves...maybe then humans will stop killing each other.
@drchuck: I agree. They are starting with active camoflage in infrared, but will no doubt soon be able to achieve this in the visible spectrum as well. Effectively making the tanks invisible from a distance.
"The Army has been testing hybrid engines in combat vehicles. In tanks, a silent electric engine could be flipped on for stealth combat missions."
A Hybrid M-1(or a Bradly) is something I cannot envision.
Where is the electric motor and storage batteries going to fit? About 55% of the hull on an M-1 is devoted to the engine compartment and that is packed full with a 1500 horsepower jet engine and a transmission that holds 55 gallons of transmission fluid and is about 2.5 times the size of the engine that is driving it. Not to mention the 3 air filter units that are used to clean the air before the engine gets it, the 2 rear fuel tanks on each side of the engine compartment and the 6 batteries for the existing electrical system and starting the engine.
Also, when one is in a combat situation vehicle performance is a major factor. How big is the system going to be to equal the performance of what is already under the rear deck?
@matsci1...this would be a new tank (hybrid), current tanks only survive the battle field because of air support...anyway, a tank that can't be seen wouldn't need to out perform other tanks, cheers
Air support is nice when it is available but tanks do not need close air support when engaging other armored vehicles. They are a stand alone weapon. I was in the 3rd squadron of the 11 Armored Cavalry regiment and stationed in Germany in the 1980´s. Most of our maneuvres and planning for the defence of the Fulda Gap, (Where the Warsaw Pact could push large amounts of armor through the mountains into the west quickly) were trained for tank against tank scenarios. A10 aircraft and Cobra Helicopters were also at the disposal of the regiment however they were not going to be overhead all the time.
Also an M-1 weighs 60 tons. The general dynamics engine does a good job of moving it around…it is 1500 Hp. I can not envision how an electrical / conventional system with the same performance will fit in a space that allows it to move a vehicle of that weight that is designed for combat with the same performance.
The “Not being seen” means the thermal signature. The main optics on a tank are thermal imaging optics…TIS…Thermal Image Site on an M-1. However that does nothing for the optical spectrum. There are many anti-tank weapons that exist that do not operate with a thermal imaging system. For instants the panzerfaust 3 built by Germany and the RPG built by Russia. There is also a back up optical system for the gunner on the M-1 called the 105-Delte. This site has been around since WW2…no computers, no electronics, just an old fashioned ballistic site. It is there if the main TIS system goes down. A tank can change its thermal profile all it wants but it will still look like a tank if viewed through the 105-Delta.
I am not knocking refinements in the technology. I am very enthusiastic about the advancements. However, there is a practical side to things. IF they will build a hybred tank they have many challenges to overcome. The major thing is to put the drive system in space that is relevant to a fighting vehicle. My job when I was in the army was the driver of an M-1. I also trained on the M-60 series tank with the V-12 diesel. I know how it feels to drive both tanks.
If the engineers can actually build such a hybred system that can match the performance and dimensional specifications that are on the existing battle tank I will be the first to applaud. However with the existing technology that I am aware of, it is not possible and many challenges must be overcome first.
i agree with all you say, however, they are also developing optical camouflage, would a smaller hybrid tank invisible to all detectors prove superior? it would seem so, cheers
You are correct Dr. Chuck.
A smaller camouflaged tank would be the superior weapon in the battlefield. But the desire for such a vehicle now becomes an engineering problem.
The design begins with the function of the vehicle itself…it is fighting other tanks and it is going to be the target of anti-tank ammunition. The primary anti-armor round in the U.S. arsenal is the sabot. It has a muzzle velocity of 1500 meters per second and is a kinetic energy weapon…it does not explode just punches through the armor and in this action has a killer effect. Opposing forces have the same technology .Also there is the HEAT round--- High Explosive Anti Tank--- that is the business end on the Panzerfaust 3
Tanks need heavy frontal armor to defeat this threat and that means added weight. Survivability…..can you take a hit and still keep going? Operation Desert Storm has shown what the value of this heavy design is worth. A factor that is always considered in such a vehicle is the power/ weight ratio of the drive system.
Also ,in my time, the M-1 A1 was introduced, the cannon became bigger and it was changed from a 105mm riffled to a 120mm smooth bore with fin stabilize ammunition. That increased the wallop that the shells had. Actually the T-72 Russian model tank had fielded the smooth bore design first with their 125mm cannon. That is what we were facing in the 1980s in the Fulda Gap.
With the technology that is available to the engineers today, and actually I am a material scientist now by profession , I can not envision this “hybrid” electric/conventional motor with the same preformance ….it just doesn’t fit in the space that is allowed .
If I am proved wrong , I want to be the first in line to shake the mans hand that did so.
Just on a fun note …on a REFORGER (Return Of forces to GERrman) maneuver when the highways were open to the tanks I had my M-1 up to 60 mph down hill on the highway . Ah ja…the good old days… young men with alot of testosterone in a 60 ton fighting vehicle.
Prost! L-Troop 3rd squadron 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment…our service is not forgotten
Yes, IEDs and RPG-7s. That's the problem. They're both low cost & effective. Anyone with not much money, can buy them. Tanks are at a disadvantage there.