in the 1987 film Predator, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his band of commandos battle an alien with the ability to switch on a cloaking device.
But Arnold will get the last hurrah — discovering that the alien can’t see as well. In fact, he/it can only see heat signatures.
A fatal flaw which will give our muscled hero the edge.
Now, the US Army wants a similar edge on the battlefield. Not quite a cloaking device, but invisibility to the electromagnetic eyes of radar.
Military experts say radar has become an integral part of ground warfare, which makes it that much harder for soldiers to hide. Thus, the Army wants uniforms woven out of a material that will absorb rather than reflect radar waves, writes Michael Peck of The National Interest.
“Radar absorbing and shielding technology has attracted a growing interest due to the recent advances in enemy electronic warfare and detection capabilities, leaving US forces, especially infantry forces, vulnerable to detection across the electromagnetic spectrum,” according to a new Army research solicitation.
“Advanced battlefield and ground surveillance radar (BSR/GSR) are readily available in military markets that are highly effective, portable, and automated for large area monitoring.”
Stealth materials already exist, but have been unavailable to the lowly foot soldier, National Interest reported.
“While there exists a wide variety of radar absorbing material (RAM) composites for shelters and vehicles, there are currently no effective and lightweight wearable options to mitigate GSR detection of a dismounted soldier,” the Army notes.
In particular, the Army wants fabric that will absorb radar waves in the Ku- and X-frequency bands, National Interest reported.
“Prototypes must demonstrate lab- and field-based capabilities within the X and Ku frequency bands at distances up to 12 kilometers [7.5 miles],” says the Army.
Whatever material is devised, the grunts wearing it will be reassured to know that the fabric must be flexible, durable and breathable.
It must accommodate also temperatures from -30 degrees to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, and withstand wet and humid climates, National Interest reported.
Meanwhile, Russia says it has already developed radar-invisible uniforms.
According to a report in Sputnik News, Russian scientists have developed a new fabric that promises to have the ability to make Russian military hardware much harder to detect for electronic warfare systems.
The new lightweight and highly flexible fabric, developed by the Rostec subsidiary JSC Ruselectronics, can protect the electronic equipment of armored vehicles, aircraft and surface-to-air systems from enemy electronic warfare capabilities and at the same time masque the electromagnetic emissions of the hardware it is applied to, making it harder for the enemy to detect, the report said.
The fabric can also be used in medicine – for example, in areas with diagnostic, therapeutic and decontamination equipment,” the company officials explained.
The officials were reluctant, however, to delve further into the exact technical characteristics and composition of the fabric.
Ruselectronics officials told Sputnik that it took approximately three years to design this new ferrite-based fabric.
Since at least 2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin has increasingly invested in modernizing the country’s armed forces, Newsweek reported.
This has included the development of high-tech tools to close the wide gap between Russia’s armed forces and those of its top competitor and longtime rival — the US.
But despite Putin’s military push, Russia remains far behind the US in a number of key areas, including aerial stealth technology. Both Russia and China are working to close this gap, Newsweek reported.
NATO has also worked on its own form of invisible uniforms in the form of a Turkish fabric that spreads a soldier’s body heat to avoid thermal and radar detection.
Last month, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers showed off an ultrathin black silicone sheet that could block infrared light, Newsweek reported.
Canadian company Hyperstealth has claimed that the US military expressed interest in its own Quantum Stealth cloak that reportedly bends light, but the request was ultimately cancelled.