By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
April 25, 2011
Thankfully, there would seem to be no end to the Star Trek future-technology legacy. DefenseReview (DR) recently published a short article on Blucher Systems’ Ghost and Spectralflage anti-thermal/IR multispectral combat camouflage tech/hardware for infantry soldiers (Ghost) and combat vehicles (Spectrralflage), respectively. Well, an Israeli company called ELTICS Ltd. is manufacturing and marketing a very interesting adaptive thermal/IR (infrared) vehicle camouflage/cloaking system called “Black Fox” that claims to render military combat vehicles, combat and reconnaissance helicopters, and naval warships virtually completely invisible to thermal/IR imagers, targeting systems, and heat-guided missile seekers.
Marketed as an “Adaptive IR Stealth System”, “Electronic Thermal Infrared Countermeasure System (ETICS)”, and “multi-spectral signature control stealth technology”, Black Fox thermal/IR camo utilizes active camouflage plates that collectively encase/shroud the outside of the vehicle, as well as two panoramic pan/tilt FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) cameras/sensors. The FLIR cameras provide full 360-degree coverage around the vehicle. According to an Eltics Black Fox promotional video, the FLIR camera “scans and captures the thermal texture of the vehicle’s surroundings” at all times, including while the vehicle is moving, and the resulting thermal image is projected onto the active plates surrounding the vehicle. The following comes directly from the Eltics Black Fox thermal/IR stealth tech promo video:
“Introducing Black Fox, ELTICS’ multi-spectral signature-control stealth technology. Black Fox renders this battle tank [shown in the video] invisible. The FLIR camera scans and captures the thermal texture of the vehicle’s surroundings. The captured image is then processed in the Main Computer Unit, the MCU. The whole system is managed by the Central Control Unit [CCU]. The result is delivered to the active plates to mimic the thermal texture of the IR environment. And even if the plates are located near a high heat source, like the engine, the plate is unaffected, and the whole vehicle remains invisible. Whatever the environment, whatever the speed, Eltics signature control system modifies the thermal signature to render the platform invisible to IR threats. On steep slopes, the pan/tilt sensor detects the gradient angle, avoiding sky radiation, and staying with the background.
Black Fox can also create false situational awareness on the battlefield. How? By generating a fake thermal signature from a pre-programmed database. It can simulate the signature of other assets. A main battle tank [MBT] can be made to look like a Humvee. Easily deployed on a wide variety of platforms, from battle tanks to APCs [armored personnel carriers], helicopters, and maritime craft, Eltics Black Fox stealth technology can be fitted to a range of armor plating, including explosive reactive armor [ERA] suites, taking protection to a whole new level. And remember, this is not just about defense, it’s also about offense. By disguising your IR signature, Black Fox gives you that crucial strategic edge. Eltics, We Make it Invisible.”
So, by masking or disguising your thermal/IR signature, Black Fox thermal/IR stealth tech provides the end-user with crucial seconds to obtain first look, first shot, and first kill capability against the enemy, just like the Kingons and Romulans enjoyed on Star Trek!
According to Ronen Meir, Eltics CEO, you don’t even have to wrap the whole vehicle in the Black Fox thermal/IR active camo plates. Even partial vehicle coverage will significantly enhance your combat survivability by reducing your probability of detection by the enemy. That’s good news, because we’re guessing the active camouflage (IR) plates are pretty expensive.
Defense Review doesn’t yet know if Black Fox will also protect the vehicle and crew from detection by near-IR (near-infrared) imagers, i.e., night vision (NV)/NODs (night observation deveices), but we’ll try to find out.
DR must once again hand it to the Israelis. No country’s survival is challenged on a daily basis quite like Israel’s, and survival is a great motivator for innovation and invention. Eltics Black Fox thermal/IR adpative camouflage (vehicle camouflage) technology would appear to be a truly great example of this phenomenon, assuming it works as advertised. For the Israelis’ sake, DR hopes it does, since it looks like war with Iran and Hezbollah (Iran’s surrogate fighting force in Lebanon) may be a foregone conlusion in the next few years.
FLIR Systems, Inc.
27700 SW Parkway Ave.
Wilsonville, OR 97070
FLIR Systems, Inc.
675 Discovery Drive, Suite 103
Huntsville, AL 35806
Phone: +1 256.520.3547
Hat Tip: Defense Update
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Blucher Systems Ghost Soldier Camouflage and Spectralflage Vehicle Camo: Multispectral Combat Camouflage Fabric Technology that Provides Anti-Thermal/IR (Infrared) Camo for 21st Century Special Warfare (SPECWAR)