Chameleon Games. Overview of foreign products in camouflage and camouflage
The company Barracuda declare that in this picture there is a man dressed in Sotacs
Camouflage and camouflage systems are aimed at increasing the survivability of military systems; they are responsible for the first two defense elements in the equation “not seen, not found, not shot, not killed”. The use of masking tactics, such as the use of terrain features, the introduction of correct camouflage to mix the system with the background (environment) and deploy traps in the area, increases the complexity of the task of finding a target by any opponent.
The fact that someone can make their weapons system "invisible" makes all camouflage (camouflage) and deception case a top-secret thing. As a result, not many countries want to disclose their latest discoveries in this field, even at international meetings.
Holography, fiber, reduced signatures, adaptive camouflage and optical camouflage are increasingly promising technologies, while many other technologies are being considered to make the subject invisible; this does not mean “inventing invisible coverage”, but merging an object with its background as much as possible in a larger range of the spectrum.
Among the various promising technologies, spectral and adaptive controlled materials are at the top of the list, although their development is still in its initial stages. As for the visible spectrum, here we see quite advanced systems, this applies to such systems as a polymer light emitting diode, LCD displays and other systems based on conductivity. This gives good hopes for interesting applications that could lead to active camouflage systems that mimic the background on the system surface, something that could be very interesting, especially in urban areas. Although the technology still needs to be developed and developed, especially with regard to displays, data processing and battery power.
The first thing to consider is the type of sensitive element that the enemy is likely to use, it can vary from the naked eye to the thermal imager, radar, etc. After all, some solutions can hide an object well in one of the parts of the spectrum, but make it even more visible in another part. Currently, in the most demanded, ground-based scenario, due to the fact that the environment can change very quickly and the distance of defeat is shorter, masking is mainly a combination of fabrics and so-called patterns (camouflage patterns) for infantrymen and coloring and disguise nets for machines and weapons systems. Marines use a combat uniform, a camouflage pattern of which adapts them to the scenario in which they are going to work. Initially, green was the preferred color, as most wars were fought (or should have been) in Europe, where grass and trees were the prevailing natural elements. Next, splitting patterns with two, three, or more colors came into play, and those armies that stationed their soldiers in different scenarios began to diversify their camouflage. Winter, desert, or wooded areas became typical patterns, which were then followed by attempts to use urban camouflage, although the diversity of the environment (background) found in built-up areas makes it difficult to find the right solution. The emergence of thermal imaging has led to the use of anti-thermal tissues, whereas digital landscape analysis transformed the patterns into pixel ones.
Means of transport
As for vehicles, most of them are painted with dull colors in the near (long wavelength) infrared region of the spectrum. Numerous manufacturers around the world make such paints. The leaders are the American NCP and its branch - the Italian NVSC for deliveries abroad, Sherwin Williams, Hentzen, PPG Government Solutions, the Dutch Akzo Nobel Aerospace Coatings, the German Weilburger and others.
There was no agreement on standards for patterns and colors inside NATO, although AEP-31 is a recommendation for the applied paints of the so-called spotted camouflage for military equipment. The current trend is the transition from solvent-based paints to water-based products due to strict environmental legislation, which requires the reduction of volatile organic components. The fact that night-vision goggles of the new generation work in the range below the 1,2 micron forces manufacturers of fabrics to use new pigments that could be effective in the 1,8 range - 2,0 microns.
In Greece, Intermat combines the capabilities of a small / medium-sized enterprise with the capabilities of a research lab that is active in developing signature management solutions. Its main goal is to significantly reduce the detection range of sensors due to thermal emission in order to trick sensors to detect thermal radiation and at the same time weaken radio signals and reduce the effective reflection area of an object. This is done not only by reducing emissions, but also by adjusting the characteristics in order to “merge” the object with the background.
Intermat Arcus networks operate in the visible, radar and infrared spectra and guarantee the attenuation of heat emission even when in contact with a hot surface.
This picture shows the difference in heat radiation from a house in the background, which is painted with Intermat Low Emissivity Paint (low emissivity paint), and with a house in the foreground that is not painted.
MBDA has developed Multisorb, a three-dimensional camouflage system that works in the visible, thermal and radar spectrum
To control thermal signatures, Intermat has developed a low emissivity (Low Emissivity Paints) coating that, after drying, forms an 50 - 60 micron film that controls the heat dissipated by the surface. Intermat can produce military shades of colors with adjustable levels of radiation, that is, this shade of green can be more or less “insulating” depending on the average background of the operational theater of operations. The ability to change the characteristics shows how much Leps coatings from Intermat differ from standard inks in the near-infrared spectrum, designed to counteract 70's night vision systems, which, incidentally, are still widespread. According to the company, light blue and light gray colors with outstanding performance are available for ships and ship helicopters operating in a very cold thermal environment.
Not much information is available about Intermat's coverages reducing the effective target reflection area, which, according to the company, provide a 97% reduction in the X-band (5,2 – 11 GHz frequency band). This means that the detection range for radar is reduced by more than half, since the equation is nonlinear. After drying, the film thickness is about 1,5 mm and is compatible with anti-thermal coatings. Both formulas can be combined into a single substance in order to ensure a decrease in heat and reflectivity. Intermat also produces adhesive materials for glass surfaces that must transmit light and reduce visibility. The Spanish company Micromag, specializing in magnetic materials, is also working on substances that absorb radar, which are added to military coverings.
When deploying vehicles in operations around the world, it is necessary to adapt their camouflage patterns to suit their deployable areas. When sending to operational theaters for long periods, a decision is made to repaint the equipment. However, since the transportation of heavier cars on the theater is too expensive, many armies tend to leave them there as long as possible and therefore do not change their color. Lightweight machines on the other hand are rotated along with units that can be deployed for up to 9 months. In this case, painting a car using a permanent ink according to a new scheme, that is, a desert, three-color pattern or a completely white UN scheme, can be an expensive pleasure, since this necessary work must be repeated with each redeployment.
NVSC Acremove is a waterborne washable paint that could be used over standard paint. This new paint guarantees the same infrared and matte properties as the usual version and can be used in the field shop. Its service life is estimated at half a year, during this period the paint is easily removed by applying a composition that is washed off with water using a high-pressure hose or a steam cleaner. The car remains with original camouflage coloring, at the same time properties of its original coloring do not change.
The Swedish company Saab Barracuda is definitely the most widely known camouflage system manufacturer in the world; its products are bought by more than 50 countries. The company provides a full range of signature management systems for both fixed and mobile applications. The company was formed from a private fishing net company in the 50s; Over the years, her portfolio has been based on camouflage nets, which, apart from positive qualities, had a great disadvantage - to be cut off at sharp corners and objects. This problem was solved with the help of Ulcas (Ultra Lightweight Camouflage Screen - a light multispectral camouflage network), a modern multispectral camouflage system that dramatically reduces the signatures of fixed objects.
Ulcas is made of two layers of material and has a three-dimensional surface structure, but, unlike conventional nets, it uses a rear finishing layer that allows you to remove it smoothly from the machine without hooking it at the corners or support rods. Patterns and colors are available according to customer needs. The scheme is always randomized (in random order) in order to avoid symmetrical shapes, while the surface material has a low gloss. The Ulcas material makes thermal intelligence difficult, providing protection against thermal imaging systems, while the pigments used in its design reduce the risk of being detected by night vision systems, as they correspond to the reflection of a given space.
Ulcas material also provides protection against radar reconnaissance in the 1-100 GHz frequency range. Chemical resistant, Ulcas can be used at temperatures from -20 ° C to + 80 ° C, and has a mass of less than 250 g / m2. By changing the geometric shape of the machine and reducing its heat and radar signatures (even in motion), for example, it also reduces the chances of getting hit by a projectile attacking from above.
IRBD camouflage suit in the thermal infrared spectrum, developed by the Swiss SSZ
Traps must be trusted in the whole spectrum. In the figure, a trap depicting a T-55 and viewed through a thermal imager shows the engine's thermal patch.
Inflatable membrane design from SSZ Inflatable Membrane Construction System allows troops to quickly build camouflage shelter covering large vehicles, helicopters and combat vehicles
Mobile camouflage system MCS (Mobile Camouflage System) from the same company is based on a similar three-dimensional material, but its configuration adjusts to the type of machine to further improve the separation in the visible, thermal and radar spectra. When operating in hot climates, MCS can be integrated with the HTR Coolcam, where HTR stands for HeaT Reduction. Working through a combination of isolation and reflection of solar radiation, the system prevents the heating of the car’s surface under the sun, and, as a result, reduces the temperature inside. A multispectral Shadow Umbrella is also proposed, which allows not only to work in open hatches in solar time, but also to guarantee complete disguise from aerial reconnaissance even when the crew leaves the hatches open.
In the area of personal masking, Saab Barracuda also offers Sotacs (Special Operations Tactical Suit - camouflage suit for personnel of special operations forces). It is made from the material of the same company, it is resistant to scratches and hooking for protruding objects. It weighs less than 2,9 kg and provides masking in the visible and near-infrared spectrum, in this frequency spectrum blocks about 80% of the heat emitted by the operator’s body. At the start of 2000, the company outbid the camouflage business from BAE Systems in the USA, settling in North Carolina, thus doubling its production capacity. Products of the American company are identical to products manufactured in Sweden.
Another official supplier of US troops is the Canadian GMA, which supplies the US Army with the Ulcans ultra light camouflage net (Ultra Light-Weight Camouflage Net System). It is made of four types, dispersing and transparent for a forest area and desert of the same two subtypes. Ulcans comes in two forms, rhombic and hexagonal, which can be combined to form networks to increase coverage. The kit has a total weight of less than 45 kg and includes support rods and devices for lengthening the outlines of objects, stakes, a repair kit, a user manual and containers for transfer. For mobile masking, GMA produces individually selected panels that attach directly to all surfaces of the machine. The system reduces visible, thermal, near-IR spectrum and platform radar signatures. For cars with unarmoured roofs, GMA manufactures coatings that allow you to quickly adjust the color of the car to the background color. Three-tone schemes are available for woodlands, one-tone desert, one-tone green, and arctic winter.
The Swiss SSZ also produces three-dimensional camouflage systems, such as MSCN (Multi Spectral Camouflage Net), which is based on a multi-layer fabric with a film coating. Each layer is responsible for reducing the signature in the corresponding wavelength range; visible, near infrared, thermal imaging and radar. The fabric is cut into special patterns and fixed on the backbone, the cells of the latter vary depending on the type of masked machine; smaller cells help avoid snagging when mounting racks are used. MSCN has a mass of about 250 g / m2. In order to adapt the level of convection, which guarantees optimal control of thermal signatures, cutting sheets differs according to the type of environment (background). For the 2 - 100 GHz frequency range, masking is provided by scattering of the incident waves; this dispersion is created by the metal underlayer of the camouflage leaves, their cuts create a small effective area of dispersion, independent of the angle of incidence. The company produces mobile camouflage covers, camouflage nets in combination with inflatable membranes and infrared camouflage kits.
In Israel, the company Fibrotex adopted a different two-dimensional approach to camouflage. Its multispectral camouflage net has a very thin weave with a mass of just 200 g / m2. Well proven against the visible, near-infrared spectrum, thermal imaging and radar threats, it also has fire-resistant and water-repellent properties and can be used at temperatures from -30 ° С to + 80 ° С. The great advantage of such a two-dimensional network is that it can be printed on both sides, which gives divisions the advantage of having two different patterns on the same camouflage network, which is quite convenient when working in areas where green paint can alternate with snowy areas or when desert and wooded terrain can replace each other in the area of hostilities.
And back to Intermat. This company uses its expertise in paint coatings to produce anti-thermal and anti-radar camouflage nets, coatings and films, as well as awnings and personal camouflage. Its Ulcas and Arcus networks attenuate radar signals in the 5-100 GHz band, especially in the 8-40 GHz segment, with a variable attenuation level of the 10-35 dB component. In addition, all fabrics are treated with anti-thermal coatings and can be made on any masking pattern. The company produces awnings, as well as costumes for snipers from "breathable" anti-thermal fabric with a density of 60 g / m2.
Finally, the goal of traps (false targets) is rather not to conceal any of its objects, but rather to entangle the enemy. They provide an effective way to mislead enemy intelligence and information-gathering tools and, consequently, reduce the effectiveness of enemy fire. In order for them to be believable, traps must produce a signature that is compatible in all the required ranges with the ranges of the original system that they represent, that is, regarding the visible, near-IR spectrum, thermal imaging and radar signatures. Saab Barracuda is currently developing new trap systems, although very little information is available about them. It will be light, frame and inflatable structures, will have multispectral properties in the visible, near-IR spectrum, thermal imaging and radar ranges, they can also be customized for any object.
Another company working in this area, Shape International, produces inflatable traps that can be quickly installed and disassembled. They are made to simulate numerous potential targets, for example, aircraft, main combat Tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as logistics vehicles. Aerostar International from the USA also produces similar products.
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