London: In what may transform the way in
which future wars will be fought, British military scientists
claim to be developing stealth tanks that would be ready for
use on the battlefield within five years.
A team at defence company BAE Systems says that the
tanks will use a new technology known as "e-camouflage" which
deploys an "electronic ink" to render a vehicle "invisible".
Highly sophisticated electronic sensors attached to
the tank`s hull will project images of surrounding environment
back onto the outside of the vehicle enabling it to merge into
the landscape and evade attack, say the scientists.
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, `The Sunday
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, say the
scientists involved in the Future Protected Vehicle project.
The scientists hope the new technology will be
available to use with the British Army fighting in Afghanistan
and in future conflicts. The programme is based around seven
different military vehicles, both manned and unmanned, to be
equipped with wide variety of lethal and none lethal weapons.
In fact, the unmanned vehicles or battlefield robots
will be able to conduct dangerous missions in hostile areas,
clear minefields and extract wounded troops under fire, say
the scientists. The stealth tanks will 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 that can carry a range of mission payloads, such as
protected mobility, air defence and ambulance.
The vehicles will also have 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
controlled unmanned recce; and Atlas -- a convoy system which
removes the driver from harm`s way.
Military commanders are aiming for a prototype within
four years and an experimental operational capacity by 2013.
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 scientists say.
Hisham Awad, the head of the Future Protected Vehicle
project, said: "The trick here is to use machines to do what
they are best at (and humans are not) - ploughing very quickly
through dull, repetitive data to strip out the overwhelming
bulk which is of no use and would take a long time and
enormous human resources to process.
"Then you can quickly bring human intelligence to
bear where it excels -- making life-or-death decisions based
on `real time` information on suspicious activity flagged up
by the machines."