Monday, June 6, 2011

Australian Camouflage Designers Livid at MultiCam Contract

Australian SOTG Soldier in MultiCam
It was reported in "The Border Mail" out of Wodonga, Victoria in Australia that the Bruck Textile company is not very happy that Aussie companies were edged out by a US Company to provide the new camouflage and fabric for the Australian military's uniforms in Afghanistan. 

While it is easy to see why a camouflage design company in Australia is not happy that Crye Precision snagged the MultiCam design contract, Bruck has thrown in another key distinction as to why the Australian Department of Defence should have given them a look for the new camouflage pattern. 

Crye Precision received a handsome sum of $2.9 Million to create a unique MultiCam pattern for Australian forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. Bruck says they could have done it for $16,000. 

An interesting factor in the U.S. Army's Camouflage Effort Improvement Solicitation was the need to provide a price for the camouflage patterns being submitted. Essentially the Army was asking the Camouflage design company's to put a price tag on a very intangible product. Certainly there are development and other costs that you can attach a price tag, but what is the premium to assess on top of costs to properly price your pattern. 

Perhaps the license deal made with Crye Precision for the MultiCam used on the Army Combat Uniform is on the books somewhere, but I have not seen a price tag nor has anyone in the camouflage industry that I have talked with on this matter.. Obviously Crye has a tried and true pattern that is highly popular yet this does not mean that another pattern could not be produced at a lower cost. The drastic gap between what Crye was able to garner for its license and what Bruck says they would require, shows a key problem in assessing a value for a camouflage pattern. 

Australian Camouflage designers and fabric manufacturers have a big bone to pick with the Australian Defence Force in terms of not having a chance to prove what they could creat for an Afghanistan specific camouflage pattern that worked in Multiple Terrains. We discussed this matter with our friend Mr. Brad Turner over at Roggenwolf and he had a lot of consensus with Mr. Williamson of Bruck Textiles in deploring the fact that Aussie companies were edged out for any contention in a solicitation for camouflage and fabric development. Roggenwolf is a camouflage design company based in Australia that we have covered in many posts. 

SOTG Soldier in Support of Afghan National Police
Photo by ISAFMedia
In response to the article and the general actions by the Australian Defence Force, Mr. Turner noted the following: "We really wouldn't mind so much, if the decision to purchase 'an Australian version' of MultiCam had been taken after a process of tender and trial, in which due consideration had been given to all likely proposals; but it wasn't. 

The decision seems to be based solely upon the fact that the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) prefers MultiCam to Australia's current Disruptive Pattern Desert Uniform (DPDU). Unfortunately, that SASR prefers MultiCam to DPDU doesn't mean that MultiCam is the only viable alternative to DPDU — and the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) knows it. In fact, DMO is fully aware that Roggenwolf has been working with an established Australian supplier of combat and non-combat apparel fabrics, to develop a distinctive and effective next-generation, multi-terrain camouflage pattern exclusively for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Admittedly, DMO has persistently declined proposals from Roggenwolf since 2005. However, this seems to say more about DMO than it does about Roggenwolf or its products. They can't say definitively that MultiCam is better, because there has been no trial. They can't even say that it's because Roggenwolf camouflage patterns are obviously rubbish, because New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Poland, and even the U.S. are currently giving fair consideration to some of our other designs.

If an Australian company can develop a new camouflage pattern for ADF, then it stands to reason that another Australian company could have tailored a new Army uniform with improved ventilation, knee and elbow pads, a padded waistband, and more pockets -- the features which apparently make Crye's uniform so much better than the current DPCU cut. So it seems that the Australian Government really should explain why it has paid so much to an American company without first genuinely consulting -- or even considering -- Australian businesses." 

What is interesting is the fact of multiple foreign camouflage companies putting their best foot forward in submitting their camouflage patterns for the U.S. Army Solicitation. Two of the top contenders we have covered include Roggenwolf  as well as Hyde Definition out of the U.K. It is yet to be seen if Guy Cramer of HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. has some space age camouflage concoctions that will be submitted, but this too would be a foreign selection since his laboratory is based out of Canada. Mr. Cramer already has success by being a partner in providing the U.S. Marines with their Disruptive Overwhite Snow Camouflage.  

As always we hope the best man wins, but there is certainly going to be grumblings if a foreign camouflage designer comes over and takes the top prize with a U.S. Army camouflage licensing contract. The U.S. Army can say that a fair process was provided to all those involved. I guess the Australian Department of Defence may have some explaining to do in why the same was not given to their home country businesses. 

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