As weapons become more sophisticated with the advances in technology, so do the countermeasures to weapons. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have invented the “stealth sheet,” which is a super thin sheet that can suppress infrared light. This can be used to mask people and vehicles that emit infrared light, which can normally be picked up by drones, heat-sensing night vision goggles, and infrared cameras, according to the Daily Mail.
The stealth sheet is made out of a bendable silicon material, masks up to 94 percent of infrared light, and is only a millimeter wide. The co-author of the study, Hongrui Jiang, described the concept behind the invention.
“You can intentionally deceive an infrared detector by presenting a false heat signature … It could conceal a tank by presenting what looks like a simply highway guardrail.”
So far, the stealth sheet has been tested with a model of the human body and a model of a jeep. Jiang said that “If you have someone hiding in the bush or you have a tank running with a hot engine, and someone is trying to detect these objects with a thermal camera, this is a counter measure.”
Researchers believe that the invention could be useful for the military.
The U.S. military recently awarded a $39.5 million contract to General Atomics, who will be responsible for flying an MQ-9 Reaper drone to protect U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, according to TheDrive. These drones have electro-optical and infrared cameras, which can be used to pick up heat from people and vehicles. These drones allow the military to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions without having to place a human soldier in danger. Because of their power, U.S. Marine Corps Colonel James Frey noted that many soldiers like knowing that the drone is on their side.
“Every Marine wants a Reaper in his hip pocket, and it’s just not the way the world operates … [But] we’re not ready to cut anything right yet to get [MQ-9s], so this is a natural transition.”
The people who fly the drones aren’t necessarily located anywhere near the live action, either. Fox News reported on the Creech Air Force Base north of Las Vegas, which houses military pilots that fly drones all around the world.
The pilots work in a windowless room and are involved in missions in countries including Syria and Iraq. Pilots are in constant contact with other groups, including ground forces. The flying is done with as much precision as possible, and one of the pilots said that “I’m extremely proud of what I do … and I try to share that with people when they ask and there’s not an operational security reason not to.”