Nakidka is a camouflage system that protects tanks and armored vehicles and hides them from radars, produced by one of the companies of the Russian Kalashnikov Group, and made of radiation-absorbing material "RAM", and announced the start of supplying it to companies in June 2023. The system is also known as STS for Stealth Technology System.
How does it work?
The function of the Nakidka system is to increase the stealth capability of tanks and other combat vehicles across a wide range of wavelengths used in different combat conditions. It serves as a cap or "cloak" applied to combat vehicles such as a phone cover, to reduce the chances of it being spotted by reconnaissance radar.
Its exterior temperature corresponds to the ambient air temperature, and the use of Nakidka reduces the likelihood of tank detection, and is two to three times harder to detect for infrared rocket warheads.
The Nakidka cover reduces the visibility of combat vehicles in all controlled radar ranges, as the silhouette of the vehicle merges with the surroundings, not detected by radiothermal channels.
When monitoring vehicles covered in Nakidka, without the use of thermal imaging systems or radar-based systems, their visual appearance hardly changes.
The coloring of the material provides visual camouflage, making it one of the equipment required for Russian armored vehicles, which deployed in combat zones during the Russian war on Ukraine.
Nakidka acts as a cover for combat vehicles, which contributes to less detection from reconnaissance devices (Russian Ministry of Defense)
Nakidka was first exhibited in 2000 at the Russian Ural Arms Exhibition, and was also said to have been exhibited in 2006 at the Russian Arms Exhibition and the International Land Forces Defense Exhibition, a "special synthetic material for camouflage and heat insulation".
In a press release dated June 26, 2023, the Steel Research Institute (JCS) announced, on the website of the Russian Kalashnikov Concern Group, that Nei Stali has started supplying engineering companies with the Nakidka system.
During a special military operation in August 2022, a T-90M tank, nicknamed the Proref-3, equipped with a camouflage and hard-to-detect system, was spotted including Nakidka.
The research center of Nei Stali was responsible for the development of the head of the Nakidka Cape Komoflagg, which finished manufacturing in the nineties and was exhibited in various exhibitions.
The Nakidka system was then displayed in a package of "camouflage materials" applied to various Russian combat vehicles at the time.
Nakidka's ability to achieve the difficulty of monitoring all Russian tanks, artillery units, infantry vehicles, armored personnel carriers and other military equipment was demonstrated.
The development team immediately began promoting Nakidka internationally, but the Russian military in particular did not show much enthusiasm for it, and it took a long time to start using it.
In 2005, the first application for Nakidka was by Armenia.
Nakidka cost about $2675,2005 per system in <>, and its use helps provide an inexpensive and relatively effective solution to protect combat vehicles, while ensuring the safety of its teams.
After the development of unmanned weapons, the need to use Nakidka to make it harder to detect tanks increased (Vitaly Cosmin).
Nakidka's covers consist of radiation-absorbing RAM, and this material is known as Nakidka, so the whole set is called it, and the material weighs approximately two kilograms per square meter, and once applied to the vehicle, its shelf life becomes long, and it does not require maintenance.
The material consists of a multi-layer structure with a thickness of 8-10 millimeters, with other industrial thermal insulation materials, and its dense texture consists of a special material that neutralizes 4 missile guidance channels, namely thermal emissions, radio heat beams, radar reflection and infrared target perception, and is reduced several times, as a result of which not only night shooting at the tank is hindered, but also targeting during the day.
The inner layers of RAM capture radiation within specific spectral bands, while the outer layer of RAM provides protection across the board.
In addition, it can be coated with special enamel and equipped with different camouflage elements, and the material helps to match the exterior temperature of the vehicle with the ambient air temperature.
Nakidka reduces the maximum distance that the U.S. E-8 Joint Stars airborne radar can differentiate between wheeled and tracked vehicles based on secondary Doppler characteristics, from 180 kilometers to 30/40 kilometers.
The U.S. Javelin Top Attack anti-tank missile (ATGM) was the first system to be affected by the introduction of thermal camouflage.
The heat signature (heat from weapons) of the tanks covered with Nakidka, which the Javelin computer uses for surveillance and targeting, was then reduced by 6 degrees or more, according to foreign analysts studying the tank's characteristics.
One of the results of the analysis is that it is difficult to detect a tank with this camouflage and target it through infrared vision, because it cannot confirm the location of the target, so there is no fire or shelling.
One of the advantages of the NAKIDKA, or STS system, is to provide almost complete coverage of the structures and turrets of vehicles such as the T-72B, T-72B3 and T-80, without hindering the use of weapons.
The material prevents enemy radars from detecting heat emitted during vehicle operation, the heat-absorbing layer reduces signals sent by enemy detectors, and Nakidka is easy to use and capable of protecting small arms.
Nakidka in the war
This technology was field-tested in Ukraine after the seizure of two T-90M tanks with Nakidka cover in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.
The tank found in the Kharkiv region was said to have been deserted, but the tank in Donetsk was hit by an FGM-148 Javelin missile, which relies on both optical scenery and thermal imagery.