Wednesday Weapons – Invisible tanks

Awesome use of technology. The Poms are trying to develop invisible tanks.

Tank with e-camouflageArmoured vehicles will use a new technology known as “e-camouflage” which deploys a form “electronic ink” to render a vehicle “invisible”.

Highly sophisticated electronic sensors attached to the tank’s hull will project images of the surrounding environment back onto the outside of the vehicle enabling it to merge into the landscape and evade attack.

The electronic camouflage will enable the vehicle to blend into the surrounding countryside in much the same way that a squid uses ink to help as a disguise.

Unlike conventional forms of camouflage, the images on the hull would change in concert with the changing environment always insuring that the vehicle remains disguised.

In Helmand, for example, all armoured vehicle have desert sand coloured camouflage, which is of little use in the “Green Zone”, an area of cultivation where crops are grown and the Taliban often hide.

I wonder how these systems will take hits though.

The programme is based around seven different military vehicles, both manned and unmanned, which will be equipped with a wide variety of lethal and none lethal weapons.

The unmanned vehicles or battlefield robots will be able to conduct dangerous missions in hostile areas, clear minefields and extract wounded troops under fire.

The vehicles include:

* Pointer: an agile robot which can take over dirty, dull or dangerous jobs, such as forward observation and mine clearance.

* Bearer: a modular platform which can carry a range of mission payloads, such as protected mobility, air defence and ambulance;

* Wraith: a low signature scout vehicle;

* Safeguard: an ultra-utility infantry carrier or command & control centre;

* Charger: a highly lethal and survivable reconfigurable attack vehicle;

* Raider: a remotely or autonomously controlled unmanned recce and skirmishing platform – similar in design to the “Batmobile”

* Atlas: a convoy system which removes the driver from harm’s way.

BAE’s Future vehicle project is, in part, a reaction to the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) ‘Capability Vision’ for armoured vehicles, designed to spur development along different paths from the MoD’s previous research.

Commanders are aiming for a prototype within four years and an experimental operational capacity by 2013.

Sounds interesting but usually British developed weapon systems tend to be cumbersome.

The brief is for a lightweight vehicle, weighing 30 tonnes, powered by a hybrid electric drive, with the same effectiveness and survivability of a current main battle tank.

The UK’s current tank, the Challenger 2, weighs 62.5 tonnes, and runs a 1,200hp V12 diesel engine.

Britain’s current fleet of armoured vehicles are also close to approaching the end of their service life and armoured vehicles designed specifically for use in Helmand, such as the hugely successful Mastiff, may be inappropriate for use in other operational theatres.

Scientists at BAE are also looking at a number of revolution battlefield inventions which will increase troop protection as well as making the vehicles more lethal.

Any system that protects the troops and increases lethality for the enemy has to be good.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.