Representatives from the Multifunctional Materials Team, Warfighter Science, Technology and Research Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center, in Natick, Mass., have identified a need to identify potential “on the spot” and “quick fix” solutions “that provide on-the-spot soldier camouflage improvements for soldiers deployed in current and future military operating environments.”
According to an early May request for information, the desired solutions “will have the capability to adjust camouflage uniforms and Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) in-the-field to provide enhanced performance in specific sites of conflict. This capability will allow for an expedient alternative to the current process of typically waiting months for specific printed camouflage material to be fabricated into uniforms.”
“Current and future uniforms worn by U.S. soldiers will provide camouflage properties in the visible and near-infrared spectral regions for a generalized terrain (wooded, arid, and transitional),” the announcement explains. “Although colors and patterns of fielded camouflage uniforms will provide effective blending in a generalized terrain, specific areas of conflict may depart from the generalized terrain due to particular vegetation, amount of rainfall, or seasonal changes.”
In recognition of these instances of “background departure,” the new government investigation is seeking concepts for “on-the-spot/field solutions that can be applied to the baseline uniform that will provide for better visual/near-infrared blending for specific areas.”
Emphasizing that government interest is not seeking new camouflage colors and/or patterns for specific regions, the announcement identifies four key performance requirements for any quick fix solutions to adjust uniforms for mission specific areas of conflict:
- Provide visual camouflage in a range of typical military colors so that soldiers can adapt their uniforms and PPE to complement an assortment of specific terrains;
- Provide a break-up of near infrared spectral region with at least three distinct levels of reflectance;
- Be easily applied to and removed from the current uniform and PPE by soldiers in the field, and;
- After application, not be flammable or reduce the flame resistance of current uniform materials.
Respondents are requested to describe their submitted technology/capability and identify the level and type of camouflage protection offered (e.g., sensor types and/or terrains addressed, environmental effects, etc.). Developmental products should include estimates of specific technology readiness levels.