Sunday, October 24, 2010

Israeli company Eltics promises to render military vehicles invisible to thermal imaging

Thermal stealth technology being developed by the Israeli company Eltics promises to render military vehicles, combat helicopters and even entire naval surface ships invisible to thermal imaging surveillance sensors, targeting systems or missile seekers employing thermal sensors. The patented system, dubbed 'Black Fox' is designed to be applied as an add-on layer, on top of existing armor, or be embedded into the outer layer, comprising one layer in the 'onion ring' defensive concept of modern platforms.

'Black Fox' is an Active, Adaptive Multi-Spectral Stealth technology applicable to land, airborne and naval vessels. The concept has been in development since 2006 and was recently demonstrated in field experiments, demonstrating the ability to effectively blend parts of the platform into the background, while on the move.

The principle of ' Black Fox' operation is based, in part on patents claimed by the company. The system employs two panoramic cameras scanning the surroundings through a 360 degrees hemisphere around the protected vehicle. Image processing and control electronics are used to sense and match the background scene, creating a deceptive image for display, on multiple active-mounted panels, on the protected platform. The image mimics the background signature, creating a stealth illusion, by realistically representing the surrounding 'noise' clutter and distinctive texture, thus effectively blending into the background.

In addition to its capability to 'blend into the background', applying the signature of a nearby building, an orchard or a bush, 'Black Fox' can also mimic other shapes and signatures. For example, a system 'worn' by an M-1 tank can render the American tank to look like a Russian T-72, or 'downsize' the tank signature to clone as an M-113 APC, or even a non military pickup truck. The system can also enable the crew to manually 'copy and paste' background features and display them on their 'Black Fox' suite, to refine the stealth effect. The complete process is performed automatically and rapidly, enabling the crew to enter into a 'stealth mode' by the push of a single button. With such capabilities, the 'Black Fox' could become an important asset in the military's ability to deny enemy use of automatic target recognition systems, by eliminating distinguishable details of potential objectives. Such capabilities could also be utilized for training, employing the system on smaller surrogate vehicles, designed to perform as larger combat vehicles.

Concealing naval vessels could offer dramatic advantages for navies, particularly those operating in the littorals, where the maneuverability is limited in the off-shore area, but the proximity of coastal features enable concealment and stealth with the new system. For example, large military vessels can reduce their signature and assume the profile of non-combatant vessels, such as a supply ship, or merchant vessel. When employed with electro-magnetic (radar) stealth methods, the system can be activated, before an attacking anti-ship missile initiates its terminal guidance phase, utilizing thermal sensors. Eventually, the target can 'disappear' from the missile's sight, when entering a 'stealth' mode, with or without the use of flares.

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