BRISTOL, UK – Filton’s Fonthill Park recently became the “sight” of swarms of white-coated BAE engineers and Army officers swinging sticks around and generally stepping gingerly through bushes and groves of trees. It may seem like a farcical play put on by a school of the blind, but it isn’t. During testing maneuvers, Britain’s most advanced “invisible” tank, has gone missing. The tank crew and BAE scientists are still searching the area where the tank was last parked.
“It was right here, I’m sure of it,” says Lieutenant James Bayless, the tank’s commander and chief testing officer. He gestures to an area noticeably marked by tank tracks near a grove of trees. But areas of Fonthill Park are also equally marked. “You’re wrong, Jimmy,” says another crew member. “It’s over that way,” he says, pointing in another direction. “You’re off your rockers, the pair of you,” says a third crew member, pointing in a third direction. “It was over there, by that oak,” he exclaims, pointing to an area loaded with oaks. The second crew member retorts, “I distinctly remember it was an elm. How do you expect to find the tank if you don’t know the tree beside it?”
The armored vehicle, a modified CV-90 originally designed by Sweden and manufactured by BAE Systems, could not be found after the crew returned from a break in the testing. BAE’s original “invisible” tank possessed only infrared invisibility. In the modern battle field, many systems operate using the infrared spectrum to locate and target opposing armored vehicles. Invisibility to infrared alone gave BAE’s modified CV-90 an advantage, although the naked eye could still spot the vehicle. The missing tank (CV-90/60) had taken this a step further and allegedly the “low observable” technology operates within the visible spectrum as well. While a true invisible tank has it’s advantages, clearly there are disadvantages.
“We were done with the testing for the morning, and weren’t due for more until later in the day.” says Bayless. “We decided to go for a walk to stretch our legs, go for a nip, just one mind you, and eat a few bangers. We left the ‘Adaptiv’ system running just to avoid drawing unwanted attention. That was our undoing. When we came back, we couldn’t agree where we left it. It’s sometimes difficult to remember where you parked your car. With a literal invisible tank, it gets far worse!”
The “Adaptiv” system is what makes the tank invisible. Clearly BAE is still getting a handle on how to use the new system that works decidedly better than anyone expected. Asked if there was a way to turn off the Adaptiv camouflage by remote control, Bayless replies, “Oh yeah. BAE likes to do everything top notch. They issued a special phone with apps designed for lots of different systems on board the tank. The Camo was one of them.”
So why not just use the phone to turn the camouflage off?
“I did mention BAE likes to do everything top notch, right?” Says Bayless. “Well, BAE used the latest cell phone technology. This one uses the new transparent design, so if enemy forces come across the phone, they can’t easily gain access to the tank.”
“Yeah,” says Bayless. “Can’t find the bloody phone either.”
The search continues. Meanwhile, BAE has placed signs in the park that reads somewhat euphemistically, “Please be careful while running or jogging. Visual anomaly is present somewhere in the park. Probing ahead with a walking stick is advised. If you come across anything quite unexpected, please contact BAE Systems, Filton.”