camo test: afghanistan

13 12 2009

Some details have emerged via Army Times of the environmental trials to find the US Army’s new camouflage pattern, including a group photo of the contenders. As you can see below, the patterns being tested are (from left): AOR II, UCP, Multicam, Desert Brush, UCP-Delta and Mirage. Confusingly, two trials are ongoing  – one is a battalion level camo face-off between Multicam and UCP-Delta, with the winner supposedly then immediately becoming the in-theatre camouflage for US Army soldiers deployed to Afghanistan. The other trial (shown here) is much more like the traditional army camouflage evaluations carried out by the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, where a few soldiers, or even mannequins, are dressed in the patterns being tested and photographed against various backgrounds, real and artificial. This evaluation is purportedly intended to select a new ‘universal’ camouflage that in the near future will be worn at all times in all operational areas.

At the moment, with only this shot to go on, it is difficult to call any of them, but I’d say that UCP is obviously by far the worst, and the Delta version doesn’t seem to have improved it much – the coyote and grey blend together, and too little of the tan element remains to create the contrast necessary for texture and pattern.

AOR2 is seen to be a vertically oriented pattern after all, which ought to work well when troops are prone, but is a mockery of the science that went into its creation when worn upright like this: Landscapes – especially arid landscapes – break down into bands of horizontal elements, which is why many digital camouflage patterns have a somewhat stripy appearance. The colours look as though they could work well though (it is noticeably greener than Multicam, despite using a similar colour palette).

AORII, ACU, Multicam, Desert Brush, ACU-D, Mirage

Multicam, Mirage and Desert Brush all blend better than the rest in this photo, but Desert Brush is the only one in which I can detect a useful macro-pattern. This feature is important for reducing long-range identification of the wearer, and was a key aspect of  the design of the superlative Canadian Cadpat ‘temperate’ and ‘arid’ digital patterns. Further photo’s may reveal macro-patterns in some of the other designs, so we ought to reserve judgement until we have more information.


digital design is new special operations camo

18 05 2009

In a follow up to a story I linked to earlier this year about an unusual camouflage pattern being worn by some US Navy SEALs (special operations forces), the Soldier Systems blog has acquired some information from the Advance Planning Brief for Industry (APBI) held recently in Springfield, VA. Apparently

the Program Manager for SOF Survival, Support, and Equipment Systems announced that two camouflage patterns known as AOR1 (Desert) and AOR2 (Wooded) would be transitioned in SOF and that certain contracted systems in Khaki and Ranger Green would move to the new color schemes.

These are digital camouflage schemes not dissimilar to the camouflage already issued to the US Marine Corps (Woodland MARPAT and Desert MARPAT). Some kit and clothing has already been manufactured for trials by Beyond Tactical, London Bridge Trading (LBT) and Eagle Industries, and at one point LBT had swatches of the colour ways on their website. What the announcement seems to be saying, however, is that the camouflage is not going to be limited solely to Naval Special Warfare personnel, as had previously been thought, but is for all units operating under USSOCOM (United States Special Operations Command).

Image from LBT website

Image from LBT website

AOR2 with a vertical under different lighting conditions

Trial version (?) of AOR2 (thanks to Legit Kit NSW) with vertical alignment. Note different lighting conditions affect perceived colour.

Image from LBT website

Image from LBT website