New army camo 'can fool night vision goggles'
A new type of camouflage developed for the Bundeswehr (German army) has been designed to fool even enemies using night vision equipment.
The Bundeswehr Scientific Institute (Wiweb) has been working on the new design for several years, and now believes it finally has a replacement for the traditional Flecktarn pattern, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Tuesday.
A variety of sample camouflage uniforms, with current Bundeswehr desert camo on the left and the new pattern on the right. Photo: Bundeswehr
With a larger percentage of the surface devoted to sand colours, the new pattern – which is designed to be used in all kinds of different environments – is more useful in desert areas like Afghanistan, where more than 800 German troops are deployed.
A German soldier wearing "Flecktarn" pattern camouflage in Afghanistan in 2011. Photo: DPA
Developer Alexander Dietel told the SZ that he saw his job as one of creating the best "protective work clothing" for the soldiers.
"It's no different from the fire service. You adapt the clothing to the requirements," he said.
Dietel's new design is influenced by other nations' camouflage, as well as photos of natural environments which he experimented with in Photoshop.
Squared and pixelated patterns – such as those used by parts of the US military – were discarded in favour of one that more closely resembles past German uniforms.
"Every country has its own camouflage philosophy," Dietel told the SZ. "Every pattern has a certain recognition value. You can see straight away that it's a British or a German soldier. And that's how people want it."
British soldiers (l and r) playing football with German soldiers (m) in Kabul, Afghanistan on the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce of 1914. Photo: DPA
The new clothing also has one extra-special advantage: it provides better camouflage in the infra-red wavelengths of light used by most night-vision and light-amplification devices.
But that doesn't mean that soldiers will be totally invisible in the dark, as it's almost impossible to hide a person's body heat against variable background temperatures outdoors.
Dietel refused to explain exactly how his new pattern helps at night – for obvious security reasons.
Soldiers will also enjoy a new, more "modern" style of tailoring in the new uniforms – although ordinary troops will be waiting a bit longer than special forces units.
"It's a question of costs [when the new uniforms are given to soldiers]," Dietel said. "We just do the basics here [at Wiweb] and make sure that the soldiers have the best possible things available that work well."