Military camouflage has been the subject of continuous improvement and research for over 100 years – ever since the realisation that, supplying troops and equipment with colours matching the ambient environment could lead to improved protection and survivability.
A variety of camouflage being developed now is aimed at hiding electronic signatures and concealing soldiers and their equipment, masking them to the eye and hiding them from sensors in modern communications and targeting equipment. Vehicle camouflage methods begin with paint, which offers at best only limited effectiveness. Other methods for stationary land vehicles include covering with improvised materials such as blankets and vegetation, and erecting nets, screens and soft covers which may suitably reflect, scatter or absorb near infrared and radar waves.
Camouflage is the use of any combination of materials, coloration, or illumination for concealment, either by making animals or objects hard to see (crypsis), or by disguising them as something else (mimesis). Examples include the leopard’s spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier, and the leaf-mimic katydid’s wings. A third approach, motion dazzle, confuses the observer with a conspicuous pattern, making the object visible but momentarily harder to locate.
Many camouflaged textile patterns have been developed to suit the need to match combat clothing to different kinds of terrain (such as woodland, snow, and desert). The design of a pattern effective in all terrains has proved elusive. Some military textiles and vehicle camouflage paints also reflect infrared to help provide concealment from night vision devices. After the Second World War, radar made camouflage generally less effective, though coastal boats are sometimes painted like land vehicles. Aircraft camouflage too came to be seen as less important because of radar, and aircraft of different air forces, such as the Royal Air Force’s Lightning, were often uncamouflaged.
Researchers are developing Active camouflage or adaptive camouflage technology that is camouflage that adapts, often rapidly, to the surroundings of an object such as an animal or military vehicle. In theory, active camouflage could provide perfect concealment from visual detection. Scientific sources estimate that in five years this colour-changing technology could also be used to disguise military vehicles on the battlefield.
Military camouflage technology has taken large strides in the last decade or so, with lots of novel camouflage concepts being developed including BAE Systems’ Adaptiv vehicle cloaking technology, Hyperstealth Biotechnology’s light-bending Quantum Stealth material technology, and the Japanese invisibility cloak developed by Dr Susumu Tachi, which uses nanoantennae technology to redirect light waves around an object.
Militaries testing new military materials that can turn troops and tanks ‘invisible’
Rostek has created coatings for military equipment, which, like a chameleon, mimic, under the color of the environment, the first sample – the “invisible helmet” will soon be presented at an exhibition, the head of the state corporation, Sergei Chemezov, told TASS.
“We are constantly improving the equipment of servicemen. The main goal is to make the soldier more protected, to strengthen his technical equipment. One of our latest developments is coatings that mimic like a chameleon to the color of the environment. With the use of this technology, a helmet has been created, which we will soon time will be demonstrated at one of the exhibitions, “Chemezov said
According to him, experimental samples of such coatings have already been obtained. “They are an ideal means of camouflage for personnel and equipment.With the help of this coating, it is possible to make the tank and other military equipment invisible,” added the head of Rostecha.
In 2016, British troops have been testing a Harry Potter-style ‘invisibility cloak’ that makes them disappear on the battlefield. During field trials in the US, soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 Rifles) used a high-tech camouflage sheeting called Vatec that even hid them from infra-red and heat-seeking devices.
In 2010, the Israeli company Eltics created an early prototype of a system of tiles for infrared camouflage of vehicles. In 2011, BAE Systems announced their Adaptiv infrared camouflage technology. It uses about 1000 hexagonal Peltier panels to cover the sides of a tank. The panels are rapidly heated and cooled to match either the temperature of the vehicle’s surroundings, or one of the objects in the thermal cloaking system’s “library” such as a truck, car or large rock.
The US Army’s new camouflage will hide soldiers and tanks in plain sight – wherever they are
The Army has finally selected a company to provide it with the next generation of ultra light-weight, general-purpose camouflage. The Army’s Ultra-Light Camouflage Netting System, or ULCANS, will be an all-weather, state-of-the-art signature concealment system that provides multi-spectral protection for troops and equipment.
The Army hopes ULCANS will better conceal the signatures of troops and equipment from high-end sensor threats on the battlefield. The contract to produce the next-generation camouflage was awarded to Fibrotex USA Inc., according to a company statement provided to Army Times. The contract is a 10-year, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity award, with a total value of $480 million. Fibrotex is expected to begin full-rate production in early 2019, according to the company
The Mobile Camouflage Solution (MCS) takes concealment to another level, as “the MCS provides concealment while the platform is moving,” the company revealed. Business Insider inquired about the secret sauce to blend in moving vehicles with changing scenery, but Fibrotex would only say that their “technology combines special materials, a unique fabric structure and a dedicated manufacturing process.”
“We have more than 50 years of experience, with thousands of hours in the field and a deep understanding of conventional and asymmetric warfare. The U.S. Army tested our best camouflage solutions and the camouflage repeatedly demonstrated the ability to defeat all sensors known to be operating in the battlefield and throughout the electromagnetic spectrum,” Malleron explained.
Russia just showed off new stealth camouflage that supposedly can change colors rapidly to conceal troops
The Russian defense contractor Rostec demonstrated a stealth camouflaged helmet at the Army-2018 Forum in Moscow in Aug 2018. Rostec said the electrically-operated material is able to change color depending on the camouflaged surface and environment, and can be applied like ordinary paint.
“The specialized electrically-operated material covering the helmet prototype is able to change color depending on the camouflaged surface and environment,” Rostec said in a press statement . “The material can display dynamic changes of color intensity and simulate complex images, for example, the motion of leaves in the wind.” Rostec said that the stealth camouflage coating can be “applied to the base, like ordinary paint, and does not require great accuracy in terms of thickness and uniformity.”
In this case, it was applied to a helmet designed for Russia’s third-generation Ratnik-3 combat suit, which Russia Today previously dubbed the “Star Wars-like” suit, but Rostec says it can be applied to practically anything, even armored vehicles.