Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NZDF Multi Terrain Camouflage

The New Zealand Defence Force has announced improvements to soon be introduced to their uniform selection including the introduction of their own Multi Terrain Camouflage. Their MCU will replace the current uniforms which utilize the dual environment Disruptive Pattern Material and Desert DPM camouflage. The UK had made a similar move with the introduction of their PCS utilizing the Multi-Terrain Pattern, which replaced their Woodland and Desert DPM camo.

NZDF Multi Terrain Camouflage
Sample Courtesy of NZDF
New Zealand's Multi Terrain Camouflage should not be confused with the British Multi-Terrain Pattern, which was developed by Crye Precision and is based on their MultiCam Pattern. The new camouflage  as shown above in a sample includes pixelated elements along with layering of macro and micro patterns. Though the colors utilized are somewhat similar, which may be inherent with developing effective concealment for multiple environments, especially if Afghanistan is a focal point for the design. The move to a multi-terrain pattern has been given credence due to operations in Afghanistan, which provides transitional environments where a pattern specific to one terrain proves ineffective when utilized for a disparate area of operation. 

The NZDF notes that the DPM proved less effective as it was meant for temperate environments. They are also taking inventory on the multiple armed forces outside of New Zealand that also utilize DPM, which takes away from their ability to stand out as a unique defense force. Both elements correspond with the actions of other nation's armed forces seeking out a versatile camouflage patterns.

New Zealand DDPM (Desert Disruptive Pattern Materiel) Camouflage
Photo by Brook Corrigan, NZDF

The move in the direction of one pattern is in contrast to the U.S. Army's decision to seek out the possible use of multiple environment specific options to choose from despite  their use of MultiCam in Afghanistan. It is quite interesting to see the different perspectives given the information already on record for camouflage effectiveness. The US Navy and Marine Corps have already reverted to multiple colorways for their camouflage pattern. Australia is currently using MultiCam in Afghanistan and is also having their own MultiCam pattern developed for use in Afghanistan, while they too have their own distinct Disruptive Pattern camouflage along with a desert variant.

While it is not surprising that the NZDF is adopting a Multi Terrain Camouflage as it has also been reported that they have utilized MultiCam with their special operations forces in Afghanistan, we find the distinct pattern quite interesting as it appears to not be a typical Crye Precision design. A name designating function for concealment should not be mixed up with previous use of the term or prior recognition given to a design company. 

The New Zealand Defence Force has explained the selection process which included the review of numerous submitted patterns. This was narrowed down to 12 different designs which were tested in 2011 in Waioru utilizing woodland, arid, urban, and open country terrain. This culled the herd down to five semi-finalists which went on to uniform production for additional assessment.

New Zealand Defence Force DPM Camouflage
Photo by NZDF
The next evaluation utilizing the produced military clothing was conducted by the NZDF Capability Branch and Combat School Staff in the same region as the original testing which further narrowed things down to just two camouflage pattern finalist. The finals took place at Kaipara Air Weapons Range, countryside north of Auckland, and Whenuapai Airbase which respectively represented arid, woodland, and urban environments. 

It was noted that final selection was determined based on aesthetic appeal as the additional testing showed negligible superiority in concealment. A super majority of 80% determined that the pattern shown above would be utilized for their Multi Terrain Combat Uniform or simply known as the MCU. Furthermore they will be providing training and flame resistant variants of the uniform for use by the NZDF, which will start to be phased in during 2013.

While it has not been divulged publicly as to which design company submitted the winning pattern, we would assume that this information will soon be made apparent. The NZDF has a combined Regular and Reserve force of just under 11,000 troops, so the ability to quickly develop the new uniforms for transition will not be nearly the task presented to the US Army or other nations with larger numbers.

We do think the unique pattern will definitely take notice to differentiate New Zealand from the UK and other forces using DPM. It would certainly be interesting to see what other camouflage designs were submitted, especially the other pattern that tested well but was passed up on aesthetics. The NZDF camouflage effort and selection process can definitely provide an added perspective on pattern selection for any nation.

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