Hyperspectral camouflage enables platforms and personnel to hide from invisible threats

2022-01-07 10:19

[Jane's International Defense Review reported on July 22, 2021] after signing the contract to develop concealment measures for hyperspectral sensors for tactical ground vehicles and static positions, the U.S. Army is currently considering how to provide similar capabilities for mobile platforms and dismounted personnel. At the same time, the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense (DoD) and the international community are increasingly seeking to use hyperspectral sensors to detect and identify enemy combatants and prepare their counterparts.

In 2018, the U.S. Army signed a contract with fibretex, which delivered its 10-year ultra light camouflage net system (ulcans) project to the U.S. Army, with a value of up to $480 million. As of July 13 this year, nearly 8000 ulcans solutions have been delivered to the European division of the U.S. Army. It is reported that the company is considering how to provide greater capabilities for end users.


The U.S. Army, Marine Corps and U.S. Army command are considering how best to protect hikers from hyperspectral sensors. Ulcans provides vehicle and static soldier systems to replace the traditional Mk7 camouflage system previously provided by Saab. In addition to the U.S. Army, ulcans is also a supplier of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and the U.S. special operations command (USSOCOM) in the same contract.

Matthew Cooke, manager of the U.S. Army Program Executive Office, said: "The deployment of ulcans in the European division of the U.S. Army has been completed. Ulcans is an all-weather modular concealment system, which provides visible light, infrared and feature reduction, and significantly improves the survivability of military personnel and hardware. Its all-optical / hyperspectral concealment defeats the known enemy monitoring and aiming system and realizes modern battlefield protection. The ulcans project has successfully advanced Entered the production and deployment phase of the acquisition life cycle and maintained within the budget. The U.S. Army continues to work with army customers, allies and potential foreign customers to maintain production. "

However, Cooke warned that the project faces various challenges, and the army must balance requirements to optimize the performance of multiple sensor types.

Cooke said: "We must always pay attention to the general degree of different sensors. It is difficult simultaneous interpreting the background in such many bands, and the bands will change with the changing weather conditions. Whenever we introduce new technologies into the battlefield, how to ensure soldiers' knowledge of tactics, technology and procedures is not a challenge to Changshu, so that soldiers can make full use of the improved equipment and operate in the battle. Take advantage. "

In order to further improve the performance of ulcans, Cooke added, "While dealing with the latest and biggest sensor threats, the materials will also be continuously improved. We also hope that the camouflage weight will be lighter, while maintaining or improving durability and life, but all these can not sacrifice hyperspectral performance. The project team will continue to carry out field testing, and currently focus on continuing to test Desert / city and snow mountain / Alpine modifications.".

According to Eyal malleron, CEO of fibretex, ulcans variant II may realize the "camouflage Golden Triangle (CGT)" to some extent, which is a concept requiring static and mobile vehicles and hikers to be equally protected.

Malleron said that the development of ulcans project has gone beyond the protection of static ground vehicles and expanded the protection scope to mobile applications and dismounted personnel, including scouts and sniper teams.

In addition to the ulcans solution for protecting stationary ground vehicles, as part of the contract, fibretex also provides the "Sofia" multipurpose camouflage kit and "Noah" personal modular system to the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. special operations command. Both solutions have entered the final stage of obtaining NATO military item number, and this technology will be more widely used in the United States and internationally.

The Sofia kit can be carried by soldiers in their backpacks to provide rapid protection against ultraviolet, visible, near-infrared, short wave infrared and thermal sensors. Malleron said that the two-dimensional material is 30m long and can provide camouflage for pedestrians and ground vehicles in two "different environments".


The U.S. Army has introduced ulcans solutions to European forces

Noah is a two-dimensional, reversible, hyperspectral and rapidly deployable personal solution that can interconnect with other Noah systems and create multi person bunkers to meet longer mission requirements. But the U.S. Army and its international partners must now focus on providing the same hyperspectral protection for vehicles and personnel in action. When describing the "overall approach" of hyperspectral protection, malleron said, "in the past, it was enough to protect static assets. Now we are obliged to provide mobile solutions to ensure that ground, air and space-based hyperspectral sensors cannot detect American friendly forces on the battlefield."

Similarly, dismounted soldiers must be adequately protected from being detected by hyperspectral sensors, even if they are moving. Unless every team member except the vehicle is protected, the whole mission can be detected by a capable enemy. The industry must now explore the next generation of personal hyperspectral solutions, which can also protect individuals in action. Considering the threat of UAV detection, the region of interest includes head and face protection. Malleron added: "like our 'Night Walker' uniforms, head and face protection must be made of non overheated materials and provide maximum mobility for end users. The U.S. special operations command is very open to hyperspectral protection, and they are studying a holistic approach to protect platforms, personnel and equipment anywhere on the battlefield."

International suppliers

Swiss SSZ is also considering hyperspectral camouflage solutions for mobile ground vehicles. "In addition to the static hyperspectral camouflage network, people are becoming more and more interested in mobile camouflage solutions for high-value targets," the company said Although the company could not disclose its development in mobile protection systems.

The company also provides snipers and hikers with Hyperspectral solutions, including irbd thermal infrared uniforms, which are designed as a breathable solution that does not hinder soldiers' physical activities and is suitable for fighting in an urban environment.

At the same time, the European Defense Agency (EDA) is promoting the soldier adaptive camouflage (acams II) project, which aims to integrate active and passive adaptive solutions into textile based camouflage systems to reduce the army's visible, near-infrared, short wave infrared, thermal image and radar characteristics.

Acams II project is supported by Swedish Defense Research Institute (FOI), Netherlands Applied Science Research Organization (TNO), Lithuanian Institute of textile physics science and technology and Portuguese textile and garment industry technology center (citev).

The activities of the project include: "Research on current and future advanced sensor threats and sensor systems; research on relevant tasks of the European Union Army; research and development of advanced materials, structures, mechanisms, methods and components for adaptive and passive camouflage; verification of the performance of adaptive camouflage through laboratory measurements; realization of camouflage concepts in the laboratory and verification in relevant environments; to military, academic and industrial Report the results to the public; Release information for national military equipment procurement agencies and armed forces ".