Stealth Coating Garners Defense Award
A new coating that helps submarines avoid detection has earned an Australian scientist a prestigious government defense award.
Dr. Andrew Amiet, a stealth technology expert from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, won the 2013 Minister's Award for Achievement in Defence Science for enhancing the survivability of military vehicles and vessels, the organization announced Nov. 26.
Amiet invented a "stealth" coating that makes submarine periscopes less visible to modern radar systems, according to The Australian. The coating is being applied to periscopes on the Royal Australian Navy's six Collins-class submarines.
Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert MP said Amiet's developments contributed to through-life cost savings and reductions in maintenance requirements.
"Dr. Amiet is responsible for developing and evaluating materials with stealth capabilities for use on submarines, ANZAC ships and Army vehicles to minimize their detection by radar, sonar, infrared and other electronic systems, thus significantly improving their operational capability," Robert said.
Increasing Submarine Effectiveness
DTSO is part of Australia's Department of Defence and ensures the expert, impartial and innovative application of science and technology to the defense of Australia and its national interests.
The award has been presented annually since 1988 and recognizes outstanding original contributions that enhance Australia's defense effectiveness and efficiency.
Amiet said his goal was to provide the Australian Defence Force with a "capability edge" by reducing the chance of vehicles and vessels being detected and classified, therefore increasing the effectiveness of counter measures.
Amiet's research has delivered products such as very light radar-absorbing materials and high-density structural systems, according to Chief Defence Scientist Alex Zelinsky.
While Amiet's research has included everything from light radar absorbing materials to high-density structural systems, he has been hailed for his newly developed rubber periscope coating, which is being applied to the Royal Australian Navy's six Collins-class submarines.
Amiet has led the research since 2005 in collaboration with Mackay Consolidated Industries, a Melbourne-based rubber manufacturer.
Years of Research, Testing
The radar-absorbing materials were designed, formulated and tested by electromagnetic signature management specialists to replace internationally sourced absorbers "that proved to be less optimal."
"The old material showed evidence of deterioration and rust, where it affixed to the Collins," Amiet explained in February 2012. "The underlying metal also needed to be treated with hydrofluoric acid, to help affix the absorber."
The newly developed rubber does not rely on the hydrofluoric acid treatment, which the DTSO says is extremely hazardous.
"The new material is tested for peel and tear, to help ensure it adheres effectively to the masts," Amiet explained. "It is designed to reduce the range at which other sea or airborne platforms could detect a Collins class submarine. The effectiveness of the absorber has been validated through measurements performed by electronic warfare and radar experts at DTSO."
The rubber coating was also tested under high-pressure and salt exposure conditions to determine what thickness was capable of withstanding tensile force without peeling, according to a June 2012 article in Defence Science Australia.
Amiet added that Mackay used locally derived materials to develop the radar-absorbing material.
Amiet is now researching advanced systems based on metamaterials designed to switch on and off between frequencies, depending on the vessel's operating environment.