Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stealth camouflage?


I was interested to read that the US Army is testing what its manufacturer calls a stealth camouflage system.  Strategy Page reports:

The U.S. Army is testing MCS (Mobile Camouflage System) that uses a new type of camouflage material for vehicles that provides an unprecedented degree of concealment and stealth. That’s because this new multi-spectral camouflage netting is fitted to a particular type of vehicle like a second skin and providing protection while moving, even in combat. The army has obtained (at manufacturer expense) several sets of this netting fitted for Stryker wheeled armored vehicles and is conducting field tests in Europe using four Strykers. If the U.S. military places a large enough order manufacturer Saab will set up an MCS manufacturing facility in the United States.

This new generation of camouflage material has been evolving for several decades as a way to protect vehicles and mobile bases from aerial reconnaissance that increasingly used infrared (heat) sensors ... A Swedish firm (Saab) took this a step further and developed MCS, which proved capable of providing a degree of stealth as well as rendering aerial or ground based sensors (and infrared based weapon sights) less effective. That can be a major advantage in combat where getting off the first accurate shot can be decisive. MCS can be provided in various camouflage patterns and colors so vehicles can quickly “change their skin” to cope with a new climate or season.

. . .

Camouflage is an ancient technique but technology caught up with camouflage in the 20th century ... Now MCS and the netting it uses have degraded many of the recent advances in sensors.

There's more at the link.

The system's manufacturer provides this promotional video.





I can recall, back in the 1970's and 1980's, the physical agony (and it often was agony, at the end of a long, very hot, exhausting day of bundu-bashing, being pounded unmercifully in our vehicles as they traversed the African terrain) of spreading heavy, unwieldy camouflage nets over vehicles in the African bush, to prevent enemy MiG fighter-bombers from locating and targeting our vehicles.  They worked to a certain extent, providing visual camouflage, but didn't offer any protection against infrared (i.e. heat-seeking) or radar sensors.  This new camouflage looks like a game-changer in that respect . . . at least, until sensor technology improves still further.

The progression never ends, of course.  Detection technology will improve;  then camouflage technology will leapfrog over current-generation sensors;  then new-generation sensors will be developed to 'see through' the new camouflage, and necessitate the development of something more effective.  That's why armies dare not keep existing technology for too long.  Sooner or later, it'll be outclassed, and a better-equipped enemy will make mincemeat of old-fashioned opponents.

Peter

2 comments:

Jonathan H said...

The fact that this testing is happening in Europe and not in the USA suggests to me that it is a local command purchase and initiative, outside the normal acquisition system (and only 4 vehicles says it is a fairly limited test).

I've heard of some of Saab's vehicle camo systems in the past and the jury is still out on whether they really work or not. Many of the European defense companies claim to have technology just as good as the US companies at a lower price but in the cases I have dealt with it isn't as good.
My suspicion is that systems like these work against older US systems and cheaper, lower quality foreign systems but likely not well against newer, higher end systems.
Since the US is unlikely to fight a good, high tech military in the near future, they are likely good enough. Alternatively, they are being tested because a potential adversary is using the technology and since the Stryker is the same base platform as many other countries 8x8 APCs, it is a good stand in for the vehicles a potential enemy is using.

Ed Stoutenburg said...

Ditto on the Cammo Net set up. Whenever the unit set up nets it was a 'Net-mare'-because being a Net-it catches things-[...your Uniform Buttons ,Weapon mount Bolts,Mounting Pins,hatch handles,Gun Barrels,ect ect...]They did do the Job if the Terrain use was right-but even practicing getting out from under it w/out snag-pull down was a Booger-[I was on Tanks so the Poles and Spreader arms had to be set just sooo...before you moved-slowly-out.]
And then if the Big-arse bag it was -carefully-rolled up into and re-secured to the side of the turret ,then inevitably it would start to snag and tear if it was wooded terrain /trails being maneuvered through.
The concept is good-especially with newer IR reduction Materials-but even with 'quick' attach panels, as the Video seems to show,will still be a snag n tear waiting to happen.
And having to much loose -er-'stuff' hanging off of the Turret Can cause issues with traverse /binding and fouling turret Ring if it unrolls tears off to much.
Still-if it gets budgeted -then it'll be 'Big Sexy' for some unit Cdrs but stacked in the corner of Motor Pool in others.