The art of radar deception: invisibility cloaks for military equipment

MRPK – radio-absorbing camouflage kit. Source:

Nanosfine disguise

The developer of a new camouflage radio-absorbing material for snow backgrounds is the Central Design Bureau of Special Radio Materials JSC, which has been specializing in radio-electronic materials science for more than 50 years. The assortment of this enterprise, which is part of the Ruselectronics company (Rostec state corporation), contains not only camouflage and protective materials, but also means of protecting information from unauthorized access via an electromagnetic channel. All modern radio-absorbing products developed at the Central Design Bureau of the Republic of Moldova are based on an ultra-wide-range cloaking material woven using a ferromagnetic microwire in glass insulation.

Briefly about the tactics of using such products. First, naturally, the vehicle’s visibility for enemy radars is reduced by an average of 3.5-4 times, which is especially critical for defense against attacking aircraft. Secondly, if we assume that all equipment is covered not only with a camouflage net, but also with air defense systems, it turns out that the enemy, when such radio-protected equipment is detected by on-board radars, will already be in the area of ​​ u200b u200bthe Pantsir-S or Tunguska complexes … In some cases, even an attack using MANPADS becomes possible.

Products of the Central Design Bureau of the Republic of Moldova. Source:

I must say that there is nothing fundamentally new in the camouflage “snow” cover – similar solutions have already been used in domestic military developments, but more on that later.

The material is based on a technology patented in 2006 for creating a woven radio-absorbing material, consisting of two layers. The aforementioned ferromagnetic microwires are twisted with each other, forming flexible strands, which, in turn, are woven into the mesh base of each layer of material. Each such element consists of electrically conducting dipoles, located randomly – both along the axis and radiating from it radially in all directions. In this case, it is important that the weaving directions are perpendicular to each other in each layer. To fix the two layers to each other, either clips are provided, located with certain steps along the entire area of ​​the material, or edging along the perimeter of the canvas.

What happens to the “enemy” electromagnetic waves hitting the domestic radio-absorbing material? First of all, microdipoles absorb some of the waves, and some of them reflect and re-reflect them many times due to their chaotic arrangement. The very structure of the material, recall, is a fleecy two-layer, which additionally contributes to such adventures of radio waves. Ideally, a very small part of the radiation returns to the radar receiver, which, in fact, determines the masking effect of the material. On average, 1 square meter of such a camouflage cover requires less than 10 grams of a ferromagnetic alloy involved in absorbing and reflecting radio waves.

Nanostructured ferromagnetic microwire in glass insulation. Source:

In the United States, by the way, the most common technology for reducing radar signature is the interweaving of electrically conductive microdipoles of various lengths into a thin layer of nonwoven felt. Such a composite can be used to make clothing and camouflage coverings, but the level of absorption of electromagnetic energy is noticeably lower than in Russian know-how. Therefore, we can say with confidence that the technology of the Central Design Bureau of Special Radio Materials has no analogues abroad. Moreover, in the bowels of the bureau, work is underway to adapt the patented technology for the needs of technology, created according to the stealth concept. It is assumed that the new thin-layer structural fiberglass will contain a complex glass fiber with a ferromagnetic microwire. The resulting material can be used to sheathe airplanes, helicopters, naval ships and coast guard boats. Engineers assume that in comparison with US technologies, the domestic novelty will require much less resources for maintenance. One has only to remember how long it takes to recover from the flights of the ultra-expensive B-2 and F-22 coatings. However, this is all so far only initial theoretical developments, in practice they have not been confirmed. At least, there is no open information on this matter.

In addition to “soft” radio-absorbing materials, CDB RM also developed quite “hard” products. Thus, together with the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, more than 10 years ago, a material was obtained based on a macroporous support with nickel particles 10-100 nm in size. The carrier is TZMK 10 material, which was used much earlier as the skin of the Buran spacecraft. An electromagnetic wave incident on such a combined product causes oscillations of nickel microparticles, that is, it is absorbed, turning into thermal energy. The range of absorbed electromagnetic waves is very wide – from 8 to 30 GHz.

To the taste and color of the customer

Camouflage materials developed according to the above technology can be used to protect both stationary objects and military equipment, without at all restricting its functionality: the coatings easily take the geometric shape of the camouflaged object. In addition to radar protection, such “invisibility cloaks” deform the appearance of the object, then reduce the likelihood of its visual detection. Deforming coloration also contributes a lot to this – a combination of dark green, black and gray-yellow colors in various ratios, depending on the area of ​​use.

MRPK. Source:

The immediate predecessors of the new “Arctic” radio-absorbing material was the MRPK-1L kit, which was accepted for supply by the Russian Ministry of Defense in 2006. His ancestor was the MRPK, adopted by the troops back in 1988 and representing a cover with an area of ​​168 square meters. meters. MRPK-1L is slightly larger – 216 sq. meters. Sets MRPK-1L are woven using a nanostructured ferromagnetic microwire in glass insulation, the patent for which was described above. The main method for obtaining this microwire is melting with an inductor in a suspended state with the formation of a capillary filled with a metal melt. In this case, it is very important to quickly cool the resulting structure at a rate of over one million degrees per second. In one technological cycle, you can get up to 10 kilometers of microwire with a total weight of only 10 grams! By the way, the operating temperature range was already from -60 to +60 degrees Celsius. That is, the MRPK-1L could initially be used against a snowy background, only there were problems with the color. Using this technology, the Central Design Bureau of the Republic of Moldova has also developed a suit for the operator of the blocker of radio-controlled explosive devices, which reduces the level of electromagnetic radiation falling on it by 1000 times.

The art of radar deception: invisibility cloaks for military equipment

A sample of radar absorbing material for a snowy background. Source:

What is the difference between the latest arctic camouflage material from all of the above? First of all, of course, the color. In 2019, CDB RM, together with YarLi, developed a white pigment that masks an object in the optical range of 400-1100 nm. In particular, during the development of the pigment, the difficult problem of its adhesion to glass fiber was solved. In addition, the number of layers of material was increased to form a specific reflective signature of the snow cover. Such radio-absorbing capes can be used both to protect stationary objects and to camouflage mobile equipment. In the centimeter and millimeter range, the reflection coefficient of a radio wave by the material is 0.5%, and at a wavelength of 30 cm – 2%. In addition, camouflage radio-absorbing overalls made of knitwear “Nitenol” for a snowy background have already been developed (but have not yet been accepted for supply by the RF Ministry of Defense). These are snow-white insulated suits for snipers, scouts and border guards with an operating range of absorbed radio waves from 0.8 to 4 cm.

Naturally, the Central Design Bureau of the Republic of Moldova cannot completely dispense with military orders, especially since the company’s products are very specific. Therefore, conversion products have a significant share in the order portfolio. For example, these are coatings for anechoic chambers, as well as materials for protecting state and commercial secrets (including special covers for phones). The protective coatings of buildings located near powerful sources of electromagnetic radiation are also of great importance. Finally, the Central Design Bureau of the Republic of Moldova has developed a corner reflector, a kind of “anti-masking” product that reflects the radio wave in a strictly opposite direction. It is used in navigation buoys, rescue boats, as well as on the approaches to airfields. But here, too, the military path makes itself felt – the corner reflector is an excellent false target that imitates the radar signature of the protected object.

Recently, everything that is associated with domestic developments with the prefix “nano” evokes only a condescending or even irritated smile – the stereotype is too great that nothing of the kind can be created in Russia. It turns out that they can, and this does not require any Skolkovo or Rusnano. There are quite enough close-knit research teams formed in Soviet times.

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