The Art Of Deception: A Comprehensive Solution By Barracuda
The art of camouflage has been based on blending into the background, taking a leaf out of how both predators and prey conceal their presence in nature. For the armed forces, the distance between success and wipe out is dependent on whether the enemy was able to “see through” the concealment. But physical blending isn’t enough when thermal imaging solutions spot out alien objects in natural topography.
Barracuda products, apart from visual band, also reduce signatures and blend with natural surroundings in Near infrared band, Thermal infrared bands and as well as in entire Radar band. Concealment in temperature, ranging from the heat of the deserts to the sub-zero temperatures in the Himalayas requires a breadth of signature management solutions and Barracuda masters the art of deception by providing a comprehensive solution suite.
Saab Barracuda has had a significant presence in India over the years.
Naresh Ummat, Managing Director, Barracuda Camouflage (P) Limited (BCL) talks about the suitability of Barracuda camouflage systems for the Indian armed forces.
Q1. India is a country with varied geographical locations and terrains. How does Barracuda camouflage systems fit the needs of Indian armed forces?
Saab Barracuda has a bank of over 3000 color combinations based on its experience in various countries. In India, Barracuda has been at work since 1999. Interaction with troops and officers during discussions and field demonstrations, etc. has helped in mapping different Indian terrains. Our engineers have undertaken laboratory blending and researched the results on-ground.
Barracuda products provide protection against detection in the entire range of electro-magnetic field. Apart from the visual band, using Barracuda products also reduces signatures and enables blending with natural surroundings in the Near Infrared band, Thermal Infrared bands and the entire Radar band. Barracuda is best placed to meet customer demands be it for deserts, semi-desert, plains, mountains or snow bound areas. Barracuda is the world leader in the art of battlefield deception.
Q2. What are the areas in which camouflage systems can be put to use in India for counter infiltration operations?
There is untapped potential for the use of Saab Barracuda Multi-spectral Camouflage nets (MSCN) and more importantly for Multi-spectral Personal Camouflage Equipment (MSPCE) such as Special Operations Tactical Suiting (SOTACS) primarily for use of advance scouts who operate in remote outposts for long hours.
For border areas, Ponchos and Sniper Suits deceive infiltrators using Night Vision Goggles, IR Binoculars, etc. Barracuda personal over-wear (is worn over load carriages) has unique properties to reduce thermal signatures and it also blends with surroundings. Thus, Security Forces can effectively prevent infiltration.
Q3. How do camouflage systems aid armies in their operations?
Saab Barracuda has a complete range of Concealment, Camouflage and Deception equipment (CCD). For all types of armor, Barracuda offers its MSCN Nets. For troops in advanced areas, a variety and combination of MSPCE suiting meets the requirements.
Most significantly, Barracuda provides the best solution for armor on the move. A parked gun or a tank or a missile launcher is ineffective in war. Instead, Indian Armed Forces can use Barracuda Mobile Camouflage Systems (MCS). In MCS, the armor such as (Main Battle Tank)MBTs, BMPs, Command and Control vehicles, launchers etc. are equipped with camouflage on its surface. MCS Development is a specialized job that involves a study of the profile of equipment, war terrain, area of deployment etc. The scientist engineers then design and create a special MCS kit for the armor using data collected for thermal, IR and radar signatures.
Barracuda has the distinction of having provided over 5000 such kits abroad. In India, Barracuda has successfully developed and demonstrated advantages of MCS on Arjun MBT in deserts of Rajasthan.
Parasols (MCS kit) deployed on Bofors guns are in service with Indian Armed Forces for many years and are supplied by Saab Barracuda. More supplies have been made recently to make up for wear and tear.
Q4. The laboratory conditions under which the systems are produced are far more congenial than the harsh battlefields. How do you ensure the effectiveness of the camouflage systems on the field?
Barracuda works in a more coordinated manner. After completing the laboratory tests to accepted standards, every product is subjected to a variety of field validation tests. Field tests and trials are an integral part of the R&D effort at Barracuda plants. Barracuda spends a significant 5% of its revenue for Research & Development purposes.
Also, experience gathered by subjecting Barracuda products to different and harsh field tests by various customers across the world is analyzed to further fine tune a given product range. Today, Barracuda caters to over 60 countries and their armed forces.
Q5. What are the various processes undertaken to produce camouflage systems for Indian armed forces?
Foremost, our scientists/engineers engage customer and understand specifics of end user needs. Often, such discussions lead to a better appreciation of customer requirements.
Barracuda then engages in setting up a trial run before regular production is taken up. This small but significant pre-production run helps to make samples which are subjected to a defined test schedule. Subsequently, production is taken up. Barracuda manufacturing facility is the most modern and automated facility. There are sensors and other check stations along the coating/printing mill. Every stage of manufacturing has a quality assurance and inspection data sheet. The final product undergoes yet another detailed check.
On delivery of goods to customer, the company has systems in position to monitor performance of its products while in actual use. Customer complaints if any, can be traced and remedial action is initiated immediately.
Q6. Which Indian defence equipment/ systems employ Barracuda camouflage systems in its operations?
Small but significant steps have been taken in the past. While the main program is still under tests and validation by the Indian Army Headquarters, Barracuda has also been working with a number of development projects. Some of Barracuda customers are:
1. Prithvi Missile Systems using MSCN static nets – developed through Program AD, DRDO, Hyderabad. Bulk supplies may begin shortly through BDL, Hyderabad.
2. Prithvi Missiles Systems using Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) – developed through Program AD, DRDO, Hyderabad.
3. Pinaka Missile Systems using MSCN Static nets – developed through DRDO, Pune. Subsequently commercial supplies have been made to Tata Power, Bangalore & L&T, Pune.
4. Command & Control Equipment using MSCN static nets – developed through BEL, Gaziabad.
5. Arjun MBT using Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) – developed through CVRDE, Avadi
6. BMP using Barracuda parasols – developed through CVRDE, Avadi.
Further, Barracuda is in discussions with DRDO and other offices for developing other fixed Installation camouflage systems.