Paint Makes Things Invisible to Radar

Invisible paint.bmp
Gizmodo has an item about a new miracle paint that makes whatever it coats invisible to radar:

A German inventor has developed a paint called AR 1 that can hide a vehicle from radar, and most importantly, “all militarily relevant frequencies.” How it works is unclear, though one test researcher proposes it’s either by reflecting radar waves in a pattern so they cancel one another out, or by utilizing microscopic magnets to absorb radar radiation. And no, it won’t get you out of speeding tickets.

The inventor’s story is an interesting one, involving thousands of hours of lab trial and error, as well as international military interest in his product … that far outshined the response from his own country’s military.

But apparently the most promising and equitable use for such a paint could be civilian. Airport towers and buildings have a long history of interfering with flight control radars. And to simply make them disappear would be quite usefulas opposed to calling hangar 12 in for a landing or something.

(Gouge: CM)

— Ward

  • pedestrian

    Nothing new to me, nor is stealth painting new, and I have two possibilities in mind. Germans should stop thinking they are great inventors. They should also stop copycatting American stuff such as the TUSK kit for their own MBT. Stealth coating is not new and already has been used for military applications for years.

  • Tad

    So does this mean the tens of billions of dollars put into stealth R&D has been wasted? How funny.

  • inconel710

    No, it means another potential crackpot has made claims he won’t be able to back up. I seriously doubt this guy has come up with something that even partially masks an object from “all” frequencies. We’re talking everything from low frequency radar satellites to tens of gigahertz missile seeker heads. That’s a huge frequency range to cover.

  • caatl

    I can’t help but wonder what effect a liberal coating of mud does to the radar reflectivity…

  • TrustButVerify

    Count me in with the skeptics. Perhaps he’s improved on the copper-ball (cenosphere, I think the term of art is?) paint which was used on the SR-71. In any inconel710 asked the question foremost in my mind, namely, what frequencies and power levels are we talking about.

  • Brad


  • ak

    Hmmm, sounds iffy.
    As far as painting military vehicles with it, how useful is that anyway? Most anti-afv weapons afaik don’t rely on radar. And they can be seen because they’re the big noisy stinky things coming down the road. It nullifies binoculars?

  • Pharsalus

    “Germans should stop thinking they are great inventors.”
    Posted by: pedestrian at May 9, 2008 09:43 AM
    Mate, ever hear of the BRITISH inventing the angled-deck carrier and carrier landing systems? You Americans were *given* the plans, but when asked for a favour in return, you said “Nope, it’s a matter of national security!”
    Do you know your Abrahams tanks use a German gun, and British armour? The whole concept of the modern MBT was pioneered by the Germans. (PzKpfw V, IMHO)
    Oh, and so were usable rockets (Von Braun!), missiles (X-4, Weserflug, Wasserfall, V-1), submarines (type XXI), jet engines (BMW, Heinkel), shaped charges, assault rifles (StG44), camouflage (Waffen-SS), actually the whole idea of ‘shock and awe’ (aka blitzkrieg) was invented by Heinz Guderian, as you should know, a German (and, admittedly, the Russians had a hand in it too).
    The US and Soviet administrations of the time *plundered* Germany for its brilliant inventions, the US version was called project Paperclip. Whatever you would say about Germans, they -are- great inventors.
    It’s the weird ideas no one believes that work. Just look at Burt Rutan, an American I respect deeply. He doesn’t even know there’s something like a box to think in. He’s brilliant, and he sent a bloody 68-year old into space with his homebuilt spaceship.
    So please, don’t go shouting about things you know nothing of. This idea may or may not work, It’ll be interesting to see. But don’t let you obvious pride get in the way of reality.

  • Pharsalus

    “I can’t help but wonder what effect a liberal coating of mud does to the radar reflectivity…”
    Posted by: caatl at May 9, 2008 10:39 AM
    Now *that*’s an intelligent remark. Thank you.

  • CTR1(SW)

    Great history lesson.
    Let’s not forget that the German atomic program was years ahead of ours.
    The British also began using unusual painting schemes on their ships during WWII. It made them appear to be going different directions.
    As for this inventor’s claims, I am a skeptic.

  • josh

    actually the german nuclear program turned out to be a big flue. we ended up developing the bomb years before they even thought they could make a working one..

  • Matt Mattingly

    Actually Pharsalus, there was an englishman working on jets at the same time, this duality often seems to happen in the universe, who had a different idea for the compressor stages from the german design. The english fellow foresaw the fact that metals of the day could not withstand the stress of compressing the air as performance demands increased. His ORIGINAL PLANE with the original engines is flying today on special occasions. The German jets, wonders that they were, were prone to unpredictable catastrophic failure because of the design. Have to admit that when the metals caught up with the stress demands, the German principles prevailed into todays designs.
    Not to take away from the Germans… heck they even had remote piloted drones, (bombs) and all this with tubes… amazing…
    anyway.. we can all be thankful that Mr. H was a flawed military leader.. or we might still be either fighting them or speaking german.

  • Pharsalus

    @ Matt Mattingly
    Frank Whittle, you mean. He built the world’s first turbojet jet engine, whereas, indeed, the Germans were building the (potentially) more powerful co-axial flow engines who were also much more fragile. And because they didn’t have access to titanium and the like, they failed.
    @ CTR1(SW)
    The German research was done mainly by Werner Heisenberg, Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner (a Jewess, no less) but they failed to see that a supercritical mass of U-235 can be further compressed into fission by an explosive lens. So yes, the Americans invented the Atomic Bomb.
    I will never discount the inventability of the British and French (next to the Germans) but what America has in common with Japan is that THEY copycat designs, maybe improve them, andmake them their own.
    Hitler was a nutcase, if he hadn’t existed someone else would’ve started the war and in that case, maybe, like Matt said, we’d all be talking German. Only thanks to millions of dead Russian, American and other soldiers this was prevented.
    We owe to the dead

  • WJS

    Actually the submarine was invented by the British, rockets were Chinese, jet engines were invented at the same time by both a British and German scientist (Whittle got the patent first/Von Ohain’s flew first), and camouflage was either British or French depending on how you define what camouflage is.

  • wpnexp

    Hmmm, well the US may not always be the best inventor, at least in military terms, but you have to admit we make great toys for everyone to enjoy. But seriously, if we don’t invent it, we usually are able to take an idea and turn it into a useful product. Lots of people have great ideas, but they don’t mean diddly until they are turned into useful products.
    Sure, the German produced rockets (although I think the Chinese would have some say about that), but America put men on the moon. Russian ICBMs are just starting to meet the quality of the 1970 designs of the Minuteman and the Trident.
    We did get a lot of ideas about aircraft carriers from the British, and the Japanese I suspect, but no one has built a carrier even remotely like the Nimitz, and yet we are moving on to the Ford-class.
    The Russians have always had great multiple rocket launchers (MRLs), and we were scarely interested in them for decades, but the MLRS is unlike all other MRLs. Firing long range guided rockets, and the ATACMS, from a single launch vehicle is simply genius.
    We amy have bitten a little more than we can chew with the F-22, even though I know we can easily afford more, but is there another aircraft that can even remotely compare to it? No. Even with this “new” paint. And the F-22 succeeds the F-22 and F-16s which have never been shot down by another aircraft despite its action in several wars.
    The Germans certainly used the first guided bombs, but we built a complete satellite system to guide our current bombs in a way that they do not even require the pilot to guide them to the target.
    Being first is usually not very important, as demonstrated by the failure of tanks to dramatically affect the battlefield in World War One. Our tanks in WW II were pretty poor also, but when we decided to make a really good tank, even with a German gun and British armor, it is pretty hard to look down on the M-1A2 Abrams as anything besides a world class tank.
    What is more, since WW II and except for a short period in the 1980s, we really haven’t tried to make great weapons in a fashion like the Chinese are trying to now. I guess that is because we really prefer our toys. And for the worlds sake, lets hope we don’t have to.

  • stephen russell

    How about use on planes, surface ships, bunkers, CPs, White House limosuines?
    & cars/trucks alone.
    Be unique.
    Saw this on website.

  • JH

    Been there done that! The U.S military already applied RAM to some ground vehicles but found that it interfered with communication systems.

  • Sven Ortmann

    …needs to do…
    (I always see typos after clicking on “post”) -.-

    • All, The forecast event is very stnorg–and would produce stnorg winds along the coast, in the Strait, and Georgia Strait….but it is too far out too get exited yet…particularly since it is connected with an extratropical transition event in the western Pacific…which reduces predictability greatly. If it still there on the Monday runs..then it will be serious…cliff

  • Sven Ortmann

    Such material needs to be more than just eliminate radar reflections – it needs to be suitable for production, maintenance and environmental conditions (cold/hot, pressures, abrasion, vibration, moisture, …).

  • chris franklin

    The last time I checked, the U.S has maintained military bases in Germany for the last 65 years. There is nothing going on in Germany that the U.S. doesn’t know about. He11, we wrote that nation’s constitution.
    So this year, a German surprises the U.S. with a “new” stealth paint! Yeah, its new paint if you think “1965” is new.
    It was, in fact, the Germans who engineered that forumlation for the Blackbird in the ’60s. We hear about this 2-generations-old paint only because there is a lot better stealth on the defense market these days.
    The post is born from a Low-Ball Press Release courtesy of military intelligence.

  • SGT Cole

    The submarine was invented by John Holland who was an Irish American inventor. I’m sure all the Irish who read what you wrote winced as I did!

  • Thomas

    “The submarine was invented by John Holland who was an Irish American inventor. I’m sure all the Irish who read what you wrote winced as I did!”
    I sure did!!!
    Topic at hand.
    Sceptical till I see an accredited research paper with test data available for examination

  • Fier

    I have a burning question, pardon the pun…
    but what are your tanks going to run on when
    fossil fuels run ridiculously high?
    Because of course a tank invisible to radar is no good if it cannot move.

  • AlephZero

    The first submersible with reliable information on its construction was built in 1620 by Cornelius Jacobszoon Drebbel, a Dutchman in the service of James I of England.

  • Vstress

    I’m surprised the article suggests things such as masking buildings in airports etc. As these buildings will disappear off the radar, it won’t make them “seethrough”. It just gives no reflection, ie. if there are aircraft landing behind it, this won’t be picked up by the radar either.
    If anything it will make things more dangerous as people won’t realise that something might be behind the building.

  • GI Zhou

    Pharasus Hmmm shock and awe equals Guderian. Hmmm try Monash at the Battle of Hamel in 1918. The T-34, and not the Panther, was the prototype for the modern main battle tank. The Panther was developed to counter the T-34.

  • Old Crusty Chief

    Mornin’ Boys,
    Seems to me that this paint can “hide” a tank or anything else of such size is rather a bold claim. (Who’s running their Sales Dept? The Oxi Clean fella?)
    IIRC, this whole stealth business is rightly labelled “low observability” and not “invisibility.” Having written that, recall that reducing radar cross section can make a thing seem smaller and more difficult to detect. E.g., the B1-B has ~2% of the RCS of a B-52, the B-2 the RCS of a swallow (African or European may be debated), and a 9,000 ton DDG the RCS of a sailboat. But disappear, no.
    As this is a coating, it can reasonably be deduced that it is some sort of RF absorbent. I don’t quite understand how magnetism could work as magnetism *is* the weaker force and would require a stunningly high Gauss to do anything to light energy. It might convert RF to heat through absorbtion, just like a Hot Pocket in the microwave. But I don’t know just how specific such a coating might be to certain freqs or bands… in the same way that your Hot Pocket is but the paper plate generally isn’t.
    As Iconel710 wrote, there’s rather a large range with which to contend between the high-power/low-freq search radar and the millimeter band imaging radar of missile. The coating *might* reduce RCS, delay detect time, decrease acquisition range, etc. The rest, well……
    Chief B.

  • makeupyourformatmind

    Invisibility or “cloaking” is possible and will be in use one day.

  • Spock

    Invisibility or real “cloaking” is possible and will be implemented one day.

  • Vitor

    I’ve read other articles that say it was already tested by a serious research institute with very good results. They are just not sure how it really works.

  • Charlie Seto

    Thermal and noise suppression are better avenues of investment. Will our anticipated OPFOR have radars capable of distinguishing tanks from clutter anyways? Is the networking capability there to leverage if one wanted to use radar to the maximum extent possible? I suppose it’d be good to have against another America…
    IIRC you can “get more stealth” by changing the shape. I wonder if the flat-oblique surfaces of stealth is conducive towards armor design which maximizes angle to give better protection.

  • tay

    that would be awesome if it really worked.

  • Vitor

    It does work. How effective we dont know.

  • 111

    magnetite, the wave of the future. the applications are endless.

  • Old Crusty Chief

    This isn’t Star Trek where vexing physics problems are resolved with some three-name gizmo like a “phase coupled magnashield” or a “frequency shifting tribble.” Absent concrete science, the ability to repeatedly produce the same results, AND being able to tell the class just how it is that your stealth paint works isn’t a good start. Fleischman & Pons, fellas.
    Now, given today’s multi-spectral approach to locating targets for some love and attention, making a MBT stealthy to radar would be about as useful as painting camouflage on a destroyer. Sure you can break up the silhouette and make the lookout cuss a bit, but there’s still the acoustic, thermal, RF emmission, wake, magnetic, and human signatures to track. All of which will likely isolate it as a target long before Lonnie the Lookout spots it.
    The same with the MBT. It’ll be a target even it is absolutely invisible in the RF spectrum.
    Chief B.

  • Daniel

    Sounds a lot like a recent metameterial that was developed with that crazy idea of ‘bending light’. This metameterial uses tiny units generating a specific radiation that repulses light, causing it to disperse all the way around it until it can continue its path.
    This is not some kind of ‘cloak’- you can still see the thing clear as day. Any light wave with broader freq. than the radiation generated is effected- such as radar. The only problem- if a plane is equiped with this metameterial, it cannot use radar itself.

  • Cortland Richmond

    So far there hasn’t been much published on broadband absorbing metamaterials, but the 29 May Science Daily article was apparently about a narrowband absorber 96 percent effective.

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  • Anonymous

    So does this mean the tens of billions of dollars put into stealth R&D has been wasted? How funny.

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