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Chinese scientists developed a new device called the “Golden Veil” that deceives air defense systems by disguising cruise missiles as large aircraft (like jetliners), revolutionizing stealth technology.

According to Interesting Engineering, the “Golden Veil” comprises gold-plated fine metal threads that form a complex web. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that this device can significantly improve the radar cross-section of a flying target and can mimic large commercial aircraft from certain angles.

Making missiles appear like other aircraft on radars is not a new concept- for example, the US uses radar reflectors on some missiles, making missiles appear like airplanes on radar screens. Additionally, some military aircraft that are designed to be stealthy carry Luneburg lenses, which are removable and enable the aircraft to become visible to civilian air traffic control while still hiding their true radar signature.

Lead researcher Zong Yali said in a paper: “Electronic warfare has become more complex than ever. New electronic countermeasure equipment and tools are entering service at an unprecedented speed,” and concluded that “they are changing the face of war.”

The folding and supportive structure of the veil is made of carbon fiber materials, which can randomly change shape and size, generating strange patterns that confuse computer or radar operators. One of its key advantages is its relatively low cost and weight, which make it more attractive than the expensive powerful transmitters that can also generate signals to confuse enemy radar.

The veil weighs only 1kg (significantly lighter than most reflectors currently being used or developed) and can be mounted on warships and land vehicles. The device being low cost, lightweight, and versatile means there will probably be a huge demand for it in the future, but the researchers report of difficulties when it comes to mass production but conclude that the technology is still under development.