Work in this field is based around the fact that every soldier and military asset on the planet is constantly interacting with different forms of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Even on the darkest night, light waves bounce off the surfaces of a tank or a deployed troop’s gun, while infrared and radio waves, invisible the naked eye, are constantly being reflected, emitted or absorbed by objects.
When such EMR interactions are viewed through a sensor like the human eye or a radar screen, they form distinctive patterns or signatures that allow objects to be identified – and then targeted by the enemy.
Modern signature management systems, such as those in Saab’s Barracuda range, help assets to effectively ‘merge’ into their backgrounds when viewed by sensors. This includes disguising objects so they are harder to make out with the human eye and also camouflaging them from a wide range of electronic sensors that detect infrared and thermal radiation as well as radio waves.