The power of concealment
Having the ability to conceal armed forces in the field provides major tactical advantages. When keeping troops and assets safe from attack by the enemy, concealment allows them to draw close enough to launch their own highly effective attacks.
The team at Saab´s business unit Barracuda understand this and provides an extensive selection of camouflage solutions. Far more than just camouflage nets, the range includes everything from camouflage suits for individuals, mobile camouflage solutions for vehicles, and complete solutions to protect static camps from enemy detection.
Johan Jersblad, Senior Development Engineer at Saab explains that the Barracuda range was born in Sweden in the 1950s when synthetic fishing nets were adapted to create highly effective camouflage nets. As new methods of detecting assets – such as radar and thermal detection – were developed over the following decades, Saab rapidly evolved to keep pace.
Today’s solutions offer protection from ultra-violet, visual, near infrared to thermal sensors and radar. In-built thermal radiation protection, meanwhile, can reduce the operating temperature inside vehicles, increasing crew comfort, firing accuracy, and fuel efficiency.
At the heart of the Barracuda range are an array of industry leading pigments, textiles, and coatings that are constantly being updated, improving capabilities.
Jersblad explains this approach can provide users with real tactical advantages. “Saab´s solutions decrease your probability of detection, giving you more time to act. Some customers have discovered that tanks using the Barracuda solution can afford to fire twice rather than just once before moving, as it’s so hard for the enemy to locate their position.”
He says the current range can be divided into three categories: platform, soldier, and force.
“Platform solutions are designed for use on variety of vehicles and equipment. They include the Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) which protects vehicles as they manoeuvre, and the Ultra Lightweight Camouflage System (UCLAS) which can be quickly erected during rest stops. Soldier solutions are designed for individuals and offer protection against visual, near infrared, and thermal signal detection.”
From snow to desert
Jersblad explains that there are solutions for all conditions. “We can make a uniform or mobile camouflage system for any environment in the world,” he says. “We change pigmentation and the properties of the material to make it blend into its surroundings, from snow to desert.” Armed forces using Barracuda products include countries lke USS, Brazil, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Italy, and Australia.
New methods of detection are constantly emerging, including the increased prevalence of near-flying drones and the use of hyperspectral and short wave infrared sensors. Saab is evolving to address these as well as the threats of the future.
“We’re working towards using nanotechnology and this will enhance the performance and user-friendliness of our products,” says Jersblad. “They will be even stronger, lighter and have better camouflage performance. It’s a really exciting area.”