The Invisible Tank
2010-02-18 0:00


It sounds like something from the fevered brain of a science-fiction writer. Invisible soldiers? Disappearing tanks? Surely this is not possible. And yet that's exactly what a group of DARPA funded scientists are attempting to do: render military assets completely invisible to the human eye.

The U.S. military has had a long history of tweaking stealth technology to give the brave men and women on the front lines that most vital of strategic assets: surprise. At around the start of the 20th century, camouflage, or "camo" for short, came into its own, being adopted by most major world powers. The early 1900's saw soldiers wearing drab, dull-toned uniforms and camo patterns being painted onto vehicles and artillery pieces, ammo, dumps, and other such things. While unlikely to hinder another soldier's sight on the battlefield, it managed to hinder the casual observer, especially if the camouflaged subject was in the dark and staying still.

However, up until recently, that seemed to be the end of the camo story. Compared to technology such as aircraft, tanks, missiles, and firearms, camouflage technology has been at a relative standstill for the last century.

Until now, that is.

Recently, United States scientists received the green light from DARPA to pursue an advanced system of "crypsis", a term meaning the avoidance of observation. This research, funded so far with seventeen million government dollars, is geared towards two projects in particular: The primary project takes the form of a collapsible, deployable "shield" made of a self-healing fiber-optic/kevlar mesh that both "cloaks" those behind it in an obfuscating aura and protects them from bullets. The Second, and perhaps the more ambitious, project seeks to do the impossible: render an entire tank invisible to normal observation.

If it seems to strange to believe, consider the following:

In 2007, the British Army stated that it had already created a functional prototype of a "cloaking technology" for their tanks, and stated that they expected it to be deployed by early 2012. While there is little evidence beyond the testimony of a few officials, it is still intriguing.

There is the infamous story from October 28th, 1943, in which the U.S.S. Eldridge, a destroyer escort, was reputedly rendered invisible to the naked eye for a few brief moments, in what has been dubbed the Philadelphia Experiment.

And of course who can forget about Public Enemy No. 1, U.F.O.'s, aircraft that zip about the sky and seem to disappear and reappear like magic? Is it too ridiculous to imaging that the United States government has developed technology so advanced that the general public can only believe that it is either non-existent or of other-worldly origins, or that they have reverse-engineered alien technology, and either way have neglected to reveal it to the public or the world? After all, what good is a stealth weapon if everyone knows about it? And doesn't the American B-2 stealth bomber seem to resemble an alien space craft?

And from an American perspective, nothing seems more bizarre and unexplainable than the British military discovering cloaking technology first, especially considering the amount of support DARPA has given American initiatives to develop such projects.

Still, if all of these projects come to fruition, we can expect to see these high-tech cloaking technologies deployed in 2012 or shortly thereafter.

Or rather, not see.

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