Could invisible tanks be part of the battlefield of the future?

BAE Systems says its new Adaptiv technology can make a vehicle fade from sight in the infrared spectrum or make it look like something else entirely.

Is that an M-1 or a Holstein?

That’s the question that might be asked on battlefields of the future if BAE Systems’ new Adaptiv technology takes hold. The technology can make a vehicle invisible in the infrared spectrum, or it can disguise it as something else.

The company said that by using sheets of hexagonal pixels on a tank or other vehicle its patented technology can change the infrared image of the vehicle. On-board cameras can pick up the background scenery and project it on the panels, allowing the vehicle to fade from view, making it a tougher target for threats that use infrared targeting.

Wired’s Danger Room quoted one BAE official as saying the technology can also be used to display other images, including a cow along with the background.

The work is being funded in part by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration.

BAE said it plans to showcase the technology at the U.K. Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition later this month.

BAE eventually wants to expand the technology into other parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum to increase stealth capabilities, the company said. In the future, it could be used on large objects such as ships and buildings.