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Thread: uniforms designed to reduce signature to night vision devices

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    Default uniforms designed to reduce signature to night vision devices

    When modern military uniforms claim to be designed to reduce signature in night vision devices, how does that work? Is it some sort of special treatment the fabric has received or the colours on the uniform that have a special wavelength?

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    Senior Member el borracho's Avatar
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    I'll make the caveat that I'm not an expert, but I've been wearing the USAF ABUs for a few months now and we have been told that properties of the fabric (not the colors) are what reduces the night vision signatures. There are strict guidelines in what detergents to use to wash the uniform, as many on the market contain "optical brighteners" that will actually enhance the night vision signature of the fabric. These detergents are highly discouraged, but a policy like that is tough to enforce unless specific detergents are issued to all personnel (which is unlikely to ever happen). Detergent labels don't mention whether they contain optical brighteners, but an unofficial rule of thumb is that most anything that advertises long lasting color, anti-fade, or other enhancements is probably a culprit. Apparently the Army did most of the legwork in determining the optical brightener problem, which also affected ACUs. They've had lots of experience researching this issue in the field during OIF/OEF and other campaigns.

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    Senior Member Cipher's Avatar
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    I've never been issued BDUs, but I've been told that ACUs trap more body heat than them, so I guess that helps.

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    Moderator James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
    I've never been issued BDUs, but I've been told that ACUs trap more body heat than them, so I guess that helps.
    Most night vision devices in use intensify ambient light. Heat signatures show up in thermal viewers. Two different things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by el borracho View Post
    I'll make the caveat that I'm not an expert, but I've been wearing the USAF ABUs for a few months now and we have been told that properties of the fabric (not the colors) are what reduces the night vision signatures. There are strict guidelines in what detergents to use to wash the uniform, as many on the market contain "optical brighteners" that will actually enhance the night vision signature of the fabric. These detergents are highly discouraged, but a policy like that is tough to enforce unless specific detergents are issued to all personnel (which is unlikely to ever happen). Detergent labels don't mention whether they contain optical brighteners, but an unofficial rule of thumb is that most anything that advertises long lasting color, anti-fade, or other enhancements is probably a culprit. Apparently the Army did most of the legwork in determining the optical brightener problem, which also affected ACUs. They've had lots of experience researching this issue in the field during OIF/OEF and other campaigns.
    I've been told things about how ironing or detergents alter the IR reduction properties of uniforms. Fair enough, doing all that may stuff up those properties, but a mate gave me advice about this. It basically went something along these lines:

    "Most of us have sets of cams (DPCU/ACU/BDU/ABU etc) for field use and nice shiny sets for barracks use. Now for the barracks use ones, who cares about IR signature etc. So use whatever makes them look good. For field use uniforms, you should follow the guidelines about cleaning/ironing. However, don't worry too much about stuffing up the IR signature. If we go to war, we'll get a new set of uniform before we go."

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    Senior Member orionhawk's Avatar
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    My understanding has been that that was the purpose behind digi-cams. The digital pattern pixels interfered with the pixels in the NOD.

    ...or something.

    Except for the Navy, which will be doing it to hide paint and grease spots.

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    Senior Member dave81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by el borracho View Post
    Apparently the Army did most of the legwork in determining the optical brightener problem, which also affected ACUs. They've had lots of experience researching this issue in the field during OIF/OEF and other campaigns.
    ...Yeah, well, the thing about that is, it's a great idea and all, but most of the soldiers I know who actually wear them use whatever detergent they happen to pick up at the PX or K-Mart.

    Also, your typical bad guy/extremist doesn't go hunting for US servicemembers while wearing night-vision devices. They just shoot AKs/set up IEDs/launch rockets & mortars in our general direction.

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    Senior Member el borracho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velvet-cream View Post
    If we go to war, we'll get a new set of uniform before we go."
    My thoughts exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave81
    ...Yeah, well, the thing about that is, it's a great idea and all, but most of the soldiers I know who actually wear them use whatever detergent they happen to pick up at the PX or K-Mart.

    Also, your typical bad guy/extremist doesn't go hunting for US servicemembers while wearing night-vision devices. They just shoot AKs/set up IEDs/launch rockets & mortars in our general direction.
    Whoa, wait there...that's a bit too much common sense for US military policy.

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    Senior Member Pete031's Avatar
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    My understanding, (And I may be wrong), is that the cam works in the NVG's instead of showing up as a solid color. Reducing your IR signature. Basically Your disruptive pattern will still be disruptive through NOD's.
    This of course is very different from Thermal.

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    Senior Member Jippo's Avatar
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    Everything that makes colors brighter or white whiter should be avoided. I*ve been washing one set with commercial stuff for years now following this rule, and it looks just the same as the original in comparison.

    Using the detergents that should be avoided causes the BDU appear lighter color in NVG's as the remains of the detergent in the fabric reflect more light than the fabric.

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    Junior Member Pscurve's Avatar
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    NOD's digitally reconstruct the environment and project it to the viewer. The pixel patterns on ACU's and other digital camo work by disrupting how the NOD's reconstruct the image. This results in a nearly invisible uniform when viewed in NOD's. The foliage green color of the the ACU's and ABU also help to hide the uniform when viewed in NOD's.

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    There has been a change in the specs for the german flecktarn pattern that aims to make uniforms less visible for night vison devices:



    The new uniform is on the right, the curves show the reflection for different wavelengths of near-infrared light for each of the five colors in the pattern.


    @Pscurve
    I won't even start to get into how wrong you are ...
    Last edited by Hollis; 01-23-2008 at 07:29 PM. Reason: Was informed the photo is; Classified - Only for duty use

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    Member VMICadetJNA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
    I've never been issued BDUs, but I've been told that ACUs trap more body heat than them, so I guess that helps.
    yup so the enemy cant see you at night when your dead of heat stroke.

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    The Soviets introduced a one piece uniform for special forces that was basically light green with light green digital patterns on it that was quite widely deployed.
    As mentioned above it was intended to disrupt the shape and the appearence of the wearer to Image Intensification scopes that create a TV like image on a green screen in a sight. The purpose was to make the pattern break up the shape of the soldier so he no longer looked like a soldier anymore.

    ie this stuff:


    http://www.sovietarmystuff.com/detai...product_id=247

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    buck duck huck luck muck puck ruck suck tuck yuck fuuuuuuuu muck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickless View Post
    There has been a change in the specs for the german flecktarn pattern that aims to make uniforms less visible for night vison devices:



    The new uniform is on the right, the curves show the reflection for different wavelengths of near-infrared light for each of the five colors in the pattern.


    I reckon you or someone else has deleted the caption "VS - NFD" (Classified - only for duty use) from that picture - that's internal stuff from the Research Institute for Materials, Explosives, Fuels and Lubricants (WIWEB)!

    I'd suggest that you remove that, even if it is "only" about uniforms, but it is a matter of principle.
    Last edited by muck; 01-23-2008 at 06:41 PM.

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