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ULCAS

The perfect blend of technical and operational excellence

7 min read

For over half a century, Saab has been specialising in cutting-edge camouflage that perfectly blends technical and operational excellence. With customers all around the world, and recent orders for deliveries to the Nordic nations as well as Austria, Saab is a world-leader in developing advanced camouflage systems. 

No battlefield is the same. Each poses its own problems, especially as the enemy bears down.

Soldier deploying Barracuda ULCAS camouflage net

Saab’s state-of-the-art camouflage screens, such as ULCAS, multiply disruptive capability and provide the pre-conditions to win in an exponentially evolving and challenging operational environment. ULCAS is a pioneering multispectral camouflage net that offers unmatched signature protection for vehicles and other objects in static positions.

Adapt to any battlefield

ULCAS

Every terrain requires a different type of camouflage. Saab experts travel the globe, visiting and collecting samples from all environments, including desert, woodland and arctic regions. The aim is to ascertain every detail. The goal is to protect troops and assets, as well as ensure mission success.

Deserts create many issues for camouflage, from extreme temperature fluctuations to fierce sandstorms and dust impacting equipment.

“Deserts are mainly about temperatures, which can soar by day, but hit minus figures at night. A material that ‘plays’ in all temperatures and surroundings is vital,” says Johan Stjernfeldt, Head of Marketing & Sales, Business Unit Barracuda, Saab.

“We have a library of sand from the majority of deserts. For maximum protection, you need the best colours. Then you need the camouflage to be a similar temperature to that specific sand,” says Senior Development Engineer Dr Johan Jersblad, who has worked at Saab’s Business Unit Barracuda for 18 years.

"We have a library of sand from the majority of deserts. For maximum protection, you need the best colours."
Johan Jersblad, Senior Development Engineer

Key Features

The solution can reduce up to 80 percent of solar loading on vehicles, shelters, tents and containers, and achieves operational temperatures from between -21°C to +80°C for both storage and use. Efficient heat management saves fuel in the field; for example, by reducing the energy needed to cool vehicles and engines.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, ULCAS can be tailored to its intended surroundings. We put in the right colours and features, so it can work in a specific terrain. Our knowledge of all terrains means you receive the right camouflage,” says Johan Stjernfeldt. 

“ULCAS has all the properties needed in one piece of textile. It is also very light, 250 grams per square metre, meaning soldiers can easily carry 50–75 square metres when needed.”

Woodland can be richly coloured and change with the seasons. It can be dense or open and the temperatures can vary depending on how much heat gets trapped between the trees.

Johan Stjernfeldt continues: “For woodland, colour is the biggest problem. People often believe that woodlands are similar and green is the main colour. But when you go from one country to another, woodlands are very different.”

Johan Jersblad
Johan Jersblad PhD in Atomic Physics

Dr Jersblad, who has a PhD in Atomic Physics, says: “The trick in woodland is to ensure that the net has the same temperature as the background. For example, large tanks generate a lot of heat, so our nets must hide this, especially as the woodland cools at night. Any heat must be removed naturally. If needed, you can also add natural vegetation to our camouflage to further blend in.”

The arctic is the harshest battlefield, with its sub-zero temperatures and storms, challenging terrain and the clear difference between the temperature of snow and that of vehicles and people.

Stjernfeldt says: “Colour is crucial here. Colours go from light and icy blue to white and grey among others, depending on where you go.”

Dr Jersblad adds: “Vehicles give off large amounts of heat. Thermal or infrared surveys are the most important thing. Our materials reflect the snow’s infrared radiation, so observers only see infrared from the snow and not the vehicle.

“Each terrain creates new challenges; therefore, we must think differently and use different textiles and pigments, among other things.”

Saab closely reviews a customer’s needs before designing, producing and field-testing camouflage based on battle-proven solutions.

"It’s vital that camouflage adapts to its terrain. If it doesn’t, you risk lives and equipment. We examine every aspect of an environment. If the conditions change fast, your camouflage should too."
Johan Jersblad, Senior Development Engineer

“It’s vital that camouflage adapts to its terrain. If it doesn’t, you risk lives and equipment. We examine every aspect of an environment. If the conditions change fast, your camouflage should too, so you or your equipment heat signatures never reveal your position,” says Dr Jersblad.

Static camouflage – ULCAS

The company creates a wide range of advanced, adaptable camouflage solutions that protect against all battlefield sensors.

ULCAS is the leading multispectral camouflage net with unrivalled signature protection for vehicles and other objects in static positions. These multispectral properties are not seen in other conventional camouflage nets, and protect against reconnaissance and sensors working in the ultraviolet, visual, thermal infrared, shortwave infrared, near-infrared and radar aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Just like nature

With a 3D surface structure, ULCAS is flexible and easy to install.

“Nature is 3D, so your net should be too. If you want to blend in, you must look like nature. We can tailor the camouflage performance by using an intelligent choice of materials, such as pigments and textiles, to simultaneously adapt the camouflage to its surroundings and meet every sensor threat. 2D limits this,” says Dr Jersblad.

Barracuda ULCAS woodland

Cost-efficient and long-lasting

The solution is cost-efficient, making conventional multiple and single-layer camouflage for different requirements virtually redundant. Its non-snagging properties also dramatically increase its service life compared to conventional camouflage.

Why choose Saab?

For over 60 years, Saab has been designing and manufacturing world-class, cost-efficient camouflage systems bespoke to the customer.

Using priceless industry insight to create a diverse portfolio, the company works globally, continually growing in size and experience alongside its customer base.

“We are the only company focusing purely on camouflage. For decades, we have been creating bespoke camouflage for the customer’s required terrain.

“We are experts, with experience of tailoring camouflage to over 7,000 different vehicles, more than any other company. We learn from every experience and produce outstanding results,” says Johan Stjernfeldt.

State-of-the-art laboratories test and evaluate material and camouflage characteristics. Saab builds its own test methods when international standards are not available. Thorough product and material tests in the harsh conditions the camouflage is designed for, and examination of every characteristic, such as mechanical, fire resistance, adhesion and environmental testing, are the backbone of success.

With unrivalled signature management expertise and in-house R&D capabilities, Saab is uniquely positioned to provide complete camouflage concepts for the individual soldier, for vehicles and even entire forces.

The company has provided camouflage to over 45 countries, including NATO, Middle Eastern and Nordic countries.

Signature management is essential

Saab’s exclusive signature management is at the core of every product. This technology minimises the contrast between an object and the background, making sensory detection much harder. It decreases exposure and distance identification, forcing enemies to advance closer to your position.

The range of products reduces signatures across the entire electromagnetic spectrum and protects forces from all sensor threats.

Partnering for success

Saab understands the importance of partnerships, one of which is uniting with NATO countries. This increases access to experts, customers who have used the products and crucial information to shape the way camouflage is created.

“A Saab user group is crucial and NATO is one such example. It can give us the feedback we need. We try to be part of the group to establish a dialogue specifically on camouflage. We look to incorporate all experts and users because the customer’s voice is vital for deep feedback. It shapes the way we approach camouflage,” says Johan Stjernfeldt.

“The best way to create world-class camouflage is to unite with the customer. We collaborate for the best results. We visit the intended terrains with customers and their vehicles to see how they are in the settings,” adds Dr Jersblad.