I agree it is a good idea, but I certainly hope this is to enhance Up-Armored vehicles and not replace Armor. With most attacks being from small arms such as AK-47's and IED's, which don't use thermal imaging, this would certainly not provide soldier protection in most attacks. If you are being targeted by a tank, helicopter or something that used thermal sights, it would be a good camouflage. But don't confuse camouflage and detection with concealment and protection.
on a serious note I can think of many tactical applications for this technology from using sheets of these panels to pretend to be aircraft or other military hardware in a place while the real assets are moved off. This could seriously improve the tactical advantage of "the cover of darkness" since FLIR devices have become so prolific. Maybe airforce or carrier aprons' could be coated in panels to change the appearence or the number of aircraft. The mind boggles at the possible applications.
In an odd peacetime application do you think you could use your armoured car to program your VCR from like a kilometer away. Frank.. did you set the recorder for days of our lives.. no hon I forgot but don't worry. I can see our house from here. I'll just use the armoured Winnebago..
or.. Somewhere in Afghanistan:
The new armoured trucks have arrived.. How do you know are you like psychic man...? No. The TV's gone crazy...
Seems like there a numerous use cases where technology like this can really make a difference. William raises some notable concerns, however, over what's stopping enemy communications systems from tapping into the signals and making the camoflauged vehicle a target. No doubt, subsequent designs will address that issue.
Although I'm sure this is always a consideration in a design like this one, it's the first time I've ever seen mention of "avoiding friendly fire." It stands to reason that if a vehicle is hard to see and identify, it must be equally hard to identify for friendly troops.
This is a great idea, and intuitively it should have occurred to somebody some time ago. I do see a serious source of trouble in one area, where it mentions the wireless control of the system. It would not take very much for an enemy to "listen a bit" and understand the control commands and then use their ECM capabilities to switch the system to serve as a target marker instead of a very clever cloaking system. So an independant wired control package would be much more secure and reliable.
It is interesting to note that a very similar approach has been used to thwart detection by building security system IR motion detector systems.
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