- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The United States and China are in a high-speed race to become the first in the world to lay claim to “cloaking” technology that’s powerful enough to hide military equipment and devices from prying eyes.

The South China Morning Post reported the Chinese army has paid for at least 40 different research groups in the past three years to pursue the technology — largely behind the scenes, on the sly. They say they’ve discovered a method of bending light in a way that an object’s presence is concealed, The New York Post reported. And they swear the technology is genuine.

“We are invisible people studying invisible technology,” said one researcher, in the Chinese newspaper.

Meanwhile, top military development companies in the United States are charging forward with the same research. Developers at BAE Systems say they’re in process of trying to discover an invisibility material that will actually hide tanks and armored vehicles.

“The U.S. military is among many who have expressed interest in Adaptiv, which could be transferred to other platforms, such as ships and helicopters,” said Mike Sweeney, a BAE spokesman, in The New York Post.

BAE’s technology takes sheets of “pixels” that rapidly change temperature and affixes them on the vehicle. Cameras that are also on board the vehicle then pick up the scenery — which can be adapted on a moving tank to match the area it’s traversing — and display it, The New York Post said. BAE’s technology can also be used to change the look of say, a tank, to a car.

The South China Morning Post reported that Zhejiang University researchers are close to making a break-through in a device that stops their invisibility technology from being detected.

“Many people have asked me if the technology can be applied on fighter jets so they can get heat-seeing missiles off their tail. Well, we may work on that,” one professor at the university said, The New York Post reported. “I think we have about a 40 percent chance of making the world’s first invisibility cloak.”

Other researchers in the United States scoff at the idea, however,

“Invisibility cloak is a poorly chosen term,” said Thomas Way, an associate professor of computing science at Villanova University, to Fox News. “Invisible to what? We already have stealth aircraft that are invisible to radar … but there is absolutely no way given our current understanding of physics that something that could be made invisible to the naked eye. If that’s what they are claiming, it’s a hoax.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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