At just 3/5 the weight of an American Abrams tank and powered by an advanced, high-efficiency, 940 HP diesel engine, Poland’s newest direct support vehicle is a seriously efficient combat machine. The big news here, however, isn’t an engine that’s capable of running on algae-sourced diesel or some ultra-torquey electric drive motor– it’s the PL-01’s composite body, which will make it the world’s first fully operational stealth tank when it goes into service in 2018.
That’s right, I said stealth tank.
The stealth tank’s proposed active infrared camouflage system can match the temperature of its surroundings, as well as go a step further- from concealment to trickery. By displaying a preprogrammed image on the temperature-controlled wafers of the tank’s bodywork, the tank can make itself appear to be a car, a school bus, or even a person. According to FoxTrot Alpha, this technology (if it proves reliable) could make enemy detection of the stealth tank almost impossible during nighttime operations.
Poland’s PL-01 stealth tank is also said to be coated almost entirely with radar absorbing paint. When combined with the tank’s relatively small profile (compared to other tanks) and its faceted design, the stealth tank is said to reduce radar returns significantly. As proven by the US Air Force time and again, radar invisibility can be quite valuable in the sky. In ground combat, this is just as valuable, as “detection of armored formations via standoff strategic platforms using ground moving target indicator (GMTI) radar will increasingly be proliferated throughout the world.”
If you’d like to learn more about Poland’s PL-01 stealth tank, check out this promo video from the company behind the PL-01 …
… then head on over to FoxTrot Alpha’s Kinja page, which has a very detailed explanation of the trick technology involved, as well as a few different videos that show the finished prototype in motion. As you read that article, keep in mind that- while they insist on calling the PL-01 prototype a “concept”- some version the tank is scheduled to go into production in 2018, with export to other NATO coalition nations beginning as early as 2022.