Friday, September 28, 2012

U.S. Army NSRDEC Camouflage Material Testing

The U.S. Army Camouflage Improvement Effort should be nearing completion at least for the latest solicitation put forth to evaluate four families of patterns for potential use. However, the Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center is not resting on their laurels and have other testing underway utilizing commercial and other camouflage patterns already utilized by the military. 

Camouflage Thermal Signature Testing 
The main focus  with this testing is on the materials utilized and the thermal signature given off, so it may be the case that the pattern has little relevance.  As you can see from the photo above, there is a lot of typical hunter camouflage including Next Camo's G-1 pattern (third from right) in the mix, and we even see a DEPSOC 360 pattern from MMI Tactical at the far left, which was designed for military use.

There are a variety of different materials utilized by hunting camouflage clothing manufacturers and the clothing is readily available with a proven ability to take on camouflage patterns, so we guess it makes sense that they would target these items for testing. While some animals (snakes and bats) do have infrared "vision", we don't see companies marketing their hunting camo based on its ability to conceal a thermal signature. 

Peel and Stick Facial Concealment
Photo by US Army Staff SGT. Porch
Camouflage clothing materials weren't the only concealment systems being tested as researchers analyzed the effectiveness of other technologies. Stick on camouflage tape, face paint, and different head wear were also assessed for their ability to block the thermal signature of the soldiers that participated in the two week test session. Overall they are seeking out effective options that provide the best bang for the buck including the comfort of the materials utilized. Clearly the U.S. Army is coming at improved concealment systems from every angle. Finding effective patterns for different environments is just one layer in an extensive process to develop the best camouflage possible. 

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