Category Archives: Camouflage-IFF

Saturday Snapshot

You might have seen the news a couple of days ago that Italian tactical clothing maker SOD Gear is going to be offering their line-up in 3 variations of PenCott camouflage – ”GreenZone”, “Badlands” and “Sandstorm”:  http://soldiersystems.net/2011/02/11/sod-to-offer-pencott-camo/

Pictured above is a computer simulation of SOD’s Para Pant, Spectre Shirt, and Boonie Hat in Hyde Definition’s PenCott-Sandstorm camouflage scheme.  The photo used for the simulation was kindly provided by Military Morons.

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Filed under Camouflage-IFF, Clothing

PenCott™ multi-terrain camouflage pattern as the US Army’s next-gen camo?

Showcasing PenCott’s multi-environment versatility, three colorways were submitted for clothing whilst a fourth colorway was specifically developed for individual and tactical equipment.

   

Experience in raq and Afghanistan (and elsewhere) has proven beyond any shadow of doubt that the currently issued Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) used on uniforms and personal equipment is significantly less effective in most terrains than other options, and also less effective than many other countries’ camouflage patterns.

So, in July of this year (2010) the US Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO-Soldier) issued a Request For Information (RFI) asking industry to submit camouflage patterns that the Army could consider for its next-generation “Family of Camouflage” – thereby effectively nailing the coffin lid shut on the “Universal Camouflage Pattern”.

The RFI specifically stipulated that patterns should have a common design geometry with adaptations colored for “woodland”, “desert” and “transitional” environments for clothing – with a fourth multi-terrain pattern adapted for use on web gear, rucksacks, armoured vests and other personal equipment.

Hyde Definition Ltd. recognised the issues with existing camouflage patterns several years ago, and first launched PenCott™ Multi-Environment Camouflage Pattern in late 2008.  The PenCott pattern uses complex, hybrid, digital-fractal geometry to more effectively disguise the wearer – the result being that the wearer disappears into the textures and background “noise” of the environment.

The requirements of the PEO-Soldier RFI therefore played directly to the core strengths of PenCott. In fact, Hyde had already researched, developed and released the required “woodland”, “desert” and “transitional” variations of the PenCott Multi-Environment Camouflage Pattern.

Read the full story here> http://www.hydedefinition.com/family.htm

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Filed under Advanced Soldier Technology and Systems, Camouflage-IFF

Montenegren “MultiCam”

Several weeks ago a photograph was posted on the web that set the forums buzzing – it appeared to show a soldier from the tiny Balkan state of Montenegro wearing a full Multicam loadout, in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan – as the 45th nation to contribute forces to ISAF.

Suddenly, Montenegro was famous for something other than being the location of high-stakes poker games (ala, “Casino Royale”) and the home country of TV sleuth Nero Wolfe. 

But alas, as is so often the case with internet speculation, the reality turns out to be slightly different – and in fact more interesting.  Thanks to information from Marko of the International Camouflage Uniform Society, we now know that the pattern is in fact a Montengren developed derivative of Multicam (no info yet as to whether money changed hands between the Army of Montenegro and Crye Precision – but one must assume that it did). 

This close-up image of the pattern shows how its marked with the letters ”VCG”  for Vojska Crne Gore (in English that means ”Army of Montenegro”) – next to a pattern element in the shape of a map of Montenegro.

The uniforms are actually made by the Croatian firm Kroko (makers of the new Croatian Army uniforms), and the individual equipment in the pattern is made by the Serbian firm Mile Dragic (who manufacture gear for the Serbian forces as well).

Thanks to Marko, we also have copies of the official Montenegren Army photos for the proper wear of the new clothing and kit in the new camo.  Enjoy!

    

So, is “MultiCam” the new “Woodland”?

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Filed under Afghanistan, Camouflage-IFF, Expeditionary Operations

Semi-Arid / Multi-Terrain Camouflage for 21st Century Conflicts

Eight and a half years of operations in Afghanistan has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the old-fashioned, Euro-centric Cold War approach of “woodland” and “desert” pattern camouflage uniforms is ineffective and inappropriate. 

Even the sophisticated new digital patterns like CADPAT and MARPAT have been hindered in their effectiveness by only being available in temperate woodland and desert variants.

A New Approach Needed

Soldiers (and particularly special operations troops who are always “the tip of the spear”) need camouflage uniforms that are optimised for operations in arid/semi-arid terrain.  The semi-arid regions of the world are defined as transition zones between arid and sub-humid belts. Semi-arid regions are also defined as areas where precipitation is less than potential evaporation and are characterised by high temperatures (30-45oC) in the hottest months.  (Syngentafoundation.org)

World Map 1: Arid, Semi-arid and non-agricultural areas (WDR 2008)

Arid and semi-arid areas account for one third of the earth’s surface land area. ICRISAT (1998) estimates that semi-arid areas, especially within the tropics, cover most parts of the developing nations in the world including Latin America, most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, a large portion of Eastern and Southern Africa and parts of India and South East Asia.

And guess what, it is these parts of the world which also account for the vast majority of the world’s current conflicts.  The map below shows all current “hotspots” where armed conflict is claiming more than 1,000 lives per year – it speaks for itself. 

World Map 2: Ongoing conflicts 2009 (kermanshahi wikipedia project)

So, when we look beyond Afghanistan we have to also recognise the fact that most future operations are likely to take place in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Furthermore, the greatest likelihood is that such forces will be deployed on so-called “low intensity operations” – a term coined by British General Sir Frank Kitson – who saw active service during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, the Malayan Emergency and Northern Ireland. 

Perhaps nothing is more basic, all-pervasive, or significant to a soldier than the uniform he or she wears – and particularly if that’s a combat uniform that doesn’t seem to be up to the job it needs to do.  To illustrate the point, there is a great line in the film “A Bridge Too Far” when Colonel Frost and his men first secure a foothold on the bridge at Arnhem: there in the heart of an urban landscape Col. Frost turns to his O Group and – taking in their Denison smocks and scrim-covered helmets – says, “You know chaps, its just occurred to me that we’re wearing entirely the wrong camouflage.”  And he’s not the only one…

A Global Fashion Trend?

Multi-terrain camouflage schemes such as Crye Precision’s MultiCam and MTP patterns, Bulldog Equipment’s Mirage Camo, 5.11 Tactical’s Digi-Woodland, HyperStealth’s Fractical Omni pattern, Helikon Tex’s GromCamo, Digital Concealment Systems’ A-TACS pattern, and the soon-to-be-released PenCott-Badlands pattern from Hyde Definition are far from being just a ”fashion trend” – they’re an urgent operational necessity.

Crye Precision's MultiCam set the standard.

US Army camouflage assessment team: AOR II, UCP, Multicam, Desert Brush, UCP-Delta, Mirage. Photo courtesy PEO Soldier

Latvian soldiers wearing fully integrated multi-terrain digital camo.

"Digital Woodland" TDU from 5.11 Tactical

Mirage Camo from Bulldog Equipment has been used successfully in Iraq and Afghanistan

A-TACS camo ensemble from EO-TAC

GromCamo collection from Helikon-Tex

Sneak Peak – "PenCott-Badlands" pattern from Hyde Definition

 Whilst there’s no such thing as a truly “universal” camo pattern, troops should at least get one that works in more than one single type of terrain – and certainly one that works in the types of terrain they’re most likely to be deployed in.

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Filed under Advanced Soldier Technology and Systems, Camouflage-IFF, COIN / CT / CRW, Expeditionary Operations, Hotspots

Making Sense of Digital Camouflage

Much has already been written about the improvements and benefits offered by digital patterns over traditional or “analogue” patterns. 

Besides the enhanced disruption and dithering effects offered by digital (especially pixelated) patterns, the ability to use sophisticated graphics software and pattern-generating algorithms also means that patterns can be created and optimised quicker, easier and more effectively than ever before.

However, for many people digital means pixelated patterns that are made from little coloured squares and clumps of squares – and many people also assume that any pattern that has squared or jagged edges to the pattern shapes is “digital”. 

Latvian multi-terrain "Legoflage"

But just because a pattern has squared or jagged edges doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “digital”, nor does a ”digital” pattern have to be comprised of pixelated shapes.  The Soviet “birch leaf” camo of WWII and “sun bunnies” camo of the Cold War are good examples of “analogue” patterns that are mistaken as digital.  And Italian Vegetato is a digital pattern that is mistaken as analogue.

Isn't digital.

Is digital (fractals rather than pixels).

So, why the confusion?  Well, as they sang in “South Park: the Movie”, Blame Canada!  ;-)   As soon as Canadian Pattern Disruptive Material (aka, CADPAT) broke cover it launched the trend and set the standard with its pixelated pattern shapes. 

CADPAT Temperate Woodland and Arid Regions patterns

Strictly speaking, a “digital” pattern is simply one which has been designed with the aid of computer-assisted design and simulation software, and which also usually involves the use of fractal or pattern-generating graphics software as well.

Pixel shapes are used in many of these patterns because work by Colonel Tim O’Neill (ret.) and others has shown that the pixel shapes fool the human eye by making the pattern appear more dithered and less likely to be noticed and identified. 

In fact, Colonel O’Neill’s original work in this area – back in 1976(!) – didn’t involve the use of computer-aided design at all.  His prototype “Dual-Tex” patterns were hand-painted onto vehicles and aircraft in various configurations and tested live out in the field.

Another area of confusion is about whether you can designate digital patterns as “Gen.I”, “Gen.II”, Gen.III”, etc.  Well, my personal view – born out of having studied this subject extensively – is that using these terms would be inappropriate.  Use of “Gen.I”, Gen.II”, etc. would imply that there has been a linear development path over time – and this is not really true.  It also implies that there is a clear and accepted definition of what constitutes Gen.I, Gen.II, Gen.III etc. – and again, this is not the case.  Finally, there is also the inherent implication that Gen.II must be better than Gen.I and Gen.III must be better than Gen.II – to make this type of classification would require thorough testing or review by an independent team of experts, or at least common agreement across the market, and neither of these is in place (nor likely to be attempted). 

So, in the end, I have decided to classify existing patterns as Type A, Type B or Type C, according to the type of pattern they use – I also chose the introduction of CADPAT as my starting point, rather than going back to earlier experiments – as this was the moment when digital camouflage went public and the trend began.  I’ve outlined below what I consider to be the defining characteristics of each type, and why they are different.

The Classifications

Type A 

Technically, these could also be called “mono-pattern” schemes as they employ a pretty straight-forward pattern of shapes that follow the basic rules of traditional camouflage design.  In other words, a consistent pattern of shapes usually comprised of two dominant colours plus a couple of accent colours.  Notably, there is no combination of “micro-pattern” and “macro-pattern” – which means that these patterns have a relatively “non-textured” appearance.

Examples include; CADPAT (and all of its derivatives; MARPAT, UCP, NAVPAT, etc.), Slovakian pixel camo, Finnish M/05, and many others.

Type B

Technically, these could also be called “duo-pattern” schemes as they combine a micro-pattern and a macro-pattern to enhance disruption and concealment through a more textured appearance.  The term “macro-pattern” refers to the larger shapes which disrupt the symmetry of the overall pattern – and thus disrupt the shape of the wearer.  The term “micro-pattern” refers to the elements (basic shapes) used in the pattern – and in particular to the way in which they are used to further dither (blur) or fade the boundaries of the macro-pattern shapes.  Among other benefits, this combination produces a more textured appearance that provides both greater disruption and greater blending abilities – and over a wider range of distances.

Examples of this type include; Jordanian KA2, Afghan Forest (HyperStealth Spec4ce Forest), Mirage Camo from Bulldog Equipment, Roggenwolf Kumul 2, etc. 

A conceptual temperate-rainforest sceme for ground attack aircraft. I designed this pattern in the spring of 1995 using the pixel editting features of PC Paintbrush, and then "skinned" it on to the OV10 drawing using CORELdraw.

Winter/Snow variation of the pattern above, also designed in the spring of 1995. At the time, I was reading a lot of Cyber-Punk literature and these pixilated camo patterns were done as proofs-of-concept for a story I was working on. I didn't find out about CADPAT, O'Neill, etc. until several years later.

Type C 

The third category is for the patterns that “break the mould”.  These are the hybrid patterns that might combine features of analogue or photo-realistic patterns with digital design characteristics.  In some cases they include the micro-macro patterns of the Type B category (such as PenCott from Hyde Definition), and in some cases they introduce new concepts – such as the boundary layer fades of MultiCam, the multi-sided pixel shapes of A-TACS or the “splattered” fractal shapes of Italian Vegetata. 

Examples in this category include; MultiCam and Multi-Terrain Pattern from Crye Precision, PenCott from Hyde Definition, A-TACS from Digital Conceal Systems, Italian Vegetata, etc.

Type D?

Perhaps someone somewhere is perfecting an invisibility cloak, or a workable form of active adaptive camouflage , but so far the true “chameleon suit” or “invisibility cloak” remains the province of science fiction and video games, and creatures such as the Cuttlefish (as below).

Multi-Terrain vs. Terrain-Specific

This is another debate which is likely to continue raging for some time – although I think the weight of opinion and observation is now swinging more in the direction of “multi-terrain”.  The recent selection by the British Army of the new “Multi-Terrain Pattern” and the US Army’s selection of MultiCam for use in Afghanistan will have a huge influence on design, thinking and decision-making going forward.

Quite a few other countries have in fact already gone ahead and either adopted MultiCam, to some extent, or developed their own derivatives.

The US Army have also proven beyond a shadow of a doubt (hopefully), with their “Universal Camouflage Pattern” that a single pattern cannot be effective everywhere.  And speaking of the US Army, it will be very interesting to see the final result of their current project to find a replacement for UCP.

When you think about it, a move towards multi-terrain patterns makes a lot of sense.  With the possible exception of a handful of very small countries, just about every country has a mix of different terrains within its borders – and when you throw external expeditionary operations into the equation then you really start to see the limitations of single-terrain camouflage patterns. 

So, I expect that we’ll see more countries devoting more efforts towards producing a multi-terrain pattern that works well across most typical environments; with supplemental patterns for those environments that have truly unique characteristics (such as alpine/arctic snow or open deserts). 

Of course, having a uniform printed with the best camouflage pattern in the world would be rendered useless if the soldiers individual equipment covers it up with a pattern or colour that ruins its effectiveness.  Add to that a black weapon and you wipe out many of the improvements in non-detectability that you’d gain from having a good camo pattern on the uniform.   

Conclusion

The sluggish recovery from the global recession, and the related pressures on public and defence spending, could also have an impact upon decisions about new camouflage pattern development and deployment by countries as well.  And finally, the continued out-sourcing of manufacturing and production of camouflage clothing to factories in China and other Asian countries with cheap labour is also bound to factor into future decisions as well.

The most interesting question though, from my perspective, is whether countries will continue to pursue the traditional policy of developing and deploying their own unique, distinctive patterns as opposed to taking a common approach – especially coalition or allied countries.  One need only look at how many countries have adopted British DPM or US Woodland patterns – or close copies thereof – in the past, and how many are now adopting MultiCam or MultiCam derived / inspired patterns now.  In fact, many people would argue that the main reason that the American and British “big army” chose MultiCam for Afghanistan was because of its prevalent use among their “small army” (i.e., special operations forces) units. 

Copyright PEO Soldier, US Army. Courtesy of Christian Lowe, KitUp.com

Ultimately, the future will probably be pretty much defined by whichever pattern direction the US Army chooses to follow once it’s made a final decision in its future standard camouflage selection process.  As the main global trendsetter in the camouflage fashion parade, many countries will simply copy it, whilst others will take a more thoughtful and unique approach. 

Whichever way things pan out, camouflage is sure to be an interesting and dynamic subject area for some time.

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Hyde Definition Ltd at IWA 2010

Director of Hyde Definition Ltd, Dom Hyde, will be attending this year’s Internationale Waffen Ausstellung (IWA) – an annual trade-show for the shooting, hunting and firearms industry taking place in Nuremberg, Germany, from the 12th to the 15th of March 2010.

IWA is the second largest trade-show of its type, after SHOT in the United States.

Dom will be visiting companies in the outdoor clothing sector to promote Hyde Definition’s innovative PenCott Multi-Environment Camouflage™ and to reveal additional new colour-ways addressing arid, mountain, urban, snow and low-light operational needs (see images below for a sneak peak).

 

“This show is a fantastic chance to show the industry what we’ve been developing, but I’ve got a lot of leg work to do – the venue is huge and I’m meeting companies from one end to the other across the weekend!” he said.

If you would like to meet with Dom to discuss the exciting opportunities offered by Hyde Definition’s ground-breaking concealment solutions, give him a call on +44 208 123 0302 or +44 7764842047, or email him at dom@hydedefinition.com

www.hydedefinition.com

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Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan to get new mountain boots, MultiCam uniforms and gear

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 1, 2010)

Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan will be issued the new “MultiCam” fire-resistant Army Combat Uniform complete with new Mountain Combat Boots and MultiCam-patterned Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, or MOLLE, gear beginning in July.

 

At mobilization sites throughout the U.S., the uniform will be issued to deploying troops as part of the Rapid Fielding Initiative process, and Soldiers already in Afghanistan are scheduled to receive the MultiCam this fall.

The MultiCam uniform, while cut in the same style as the ACU, will have several upgrades including a reinforced seat, buttons on the trouser cargo pockets, be constructed of flame-resistant fabric (like the newer ACUs), and treated with permethrin. 

The decision to field and develop an alternative camouflage for uniforms in Afghanistan came out of the realization that the Army’s current Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, did not meet all of the concealment needs for Afghanistan’s multiple regions.

New Mountain Combat Boots will also be issued to deploying Soldiers, which feature a tougher, more durable sole for gripping the rugged Afghan terrain.

In Afghanistan, Soldiers on a single patrol can potentially go from desert conditions, to wooded areas, villages, and rocky mountain environments. When coming up with a new camouflage color palette, PEO Soldier wanted to be sure the uniforms gave Soldiers a combat edge in each possible terrain situation.

Similar to the Battle Dress Uniform woodland print, the new MultiCam is a combination of seven different shades which “takes in surrounding colors.” A jumble of greens, browns and beige, the MultiCam camouflage presents a solution to Afghanistan’s multiple-region problem.

Beginning in September 2009, four phases of developing and testing new camouflage options were initiated: deciding on alternative uniform patterns, conducting testing and Soldier feedback, choosing a final pattern to produce, and evaluating a long-term plan for the Army Combat Uniform.

First, a unit field-tested the ACU in MultiCam alongside their standard-issue ACUs, while another tested the UCP-Delta, a digital pattern with the added color ‘coyote brown’ for better concealment. When polled, the MultiCam and the UCP-D ended up as the top two choices by Soldiers.

Then, a team representing the U.S. Army Infantry Center, PEO Soldier, Natick Labs, the Asymmetric Warfare Group, Army Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Naval Research Center traveled throughout Afghanistan to gather data on six different patterns including the UCP, UCP-D and MultiCam. They took photos of Soldiers in the six different uniforms against eight terrain conditions. From those pictures, photo simulation was created comparing the uniforms at different distances and settings.

About 750 Soldiers who had recently deployed to Afghanistan were then asked to judge the uniforms in the photos based on their detectability, blend-ability, and rank them from best to worst-the MultiCam was chosen as the best performer in all categories.

So far, three of the four phases of exploring camouflage alternatives have been completed, while the process of making a long-term decision about the ACU, and how big a role the MultiCam camouflage will play is still up for debate.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Camouflage-IFF, Clothing