BAE Systems' new tank may have been there all along.
This week's Defense and Security Equipment International arms fair at London's Excel center is a hive of military innovation. There are guns, missiles, a controversial Bahraini delegation and, as a finishing touch, an invisible tank. You can watch BAE's sneaky new tank hiding in some bushes in the accompanying video.
The tank hides using BAE's Adaptiv technology, which is based around a skin of hexagonal panels that can each change temperature at a rapid pace. The flexibility of these panels means that they can quickly adjust their temperature to that of their surroundings, rendering them invisible to infrared and thermal imaging sights. The panels can be be hardened, allowing them to serve as armor plating. Soldiers could also use the panels to mimic the shapes of other vehicles, or write cool messages on the side of the tank like "USAF 4 HALF-LIFE 3" or "PC GAMERS SUCK."
The project is currently being developed in Sweden under the supervision of the Swedish Defense Material Administration (FMV). Project leader Peder Sjölund says that, "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."
If armed with both BAE's Adaptiv technology and the British Ministry of Defense's anti-RPG electromagnetic tank shields, the tanks of tomorrow could combine the best fictional parts of both the Enterprise and the Normandy. Also they could save actual lives, which is cooler than impersonating sci-fi.