Cloak of invisibility
New DPCUs harder to see through night vision
By Capt Gary Fischer
NEWLY-developed uniforms using signature management technology designed to be difficult to see through night vision equipment have been officially endorsed for introduction into service.
Using training areas in Townsville and Tully, the new material had been tested in a trial involving soldiers from 2RAR and was a major step for the team of DSTO scientists who had been developing the technology since 1996.
The scientist coordinating the experiments at Tully and the Townsville Field Training Area, Janine Costa said input from soldiers was vital.
"Although significant work has been done in the laboratory, you can't actually confirm the technology until you step into a realistic environment and draw on the expertise of these highly trained infantry soldiers," she said.
"Ultimately, it is the information gained from these trained observers that finally determined which camouflage pattern would be selected as the base standard that can be applied to clothing and equipment in the future."
Maj George Shaw, the assistant project manager and military technical adviser for Land 125, said the project was a vital part of keeping the ADF up to date with technology.
"If soldiers are viewed at night time by a potential adversary utilising modern IR night vision equipment this technology will ensure they have a disruptive pattern, thus making them significantly more difficult to see," he said.
"This will give them a huge advantage on operations, particularly in low light conditions.
"One particular experiment conducted at Tully showed that soldiers wearing the new uniforms were virtually invisible at 12m when viewed with NVGs, whereas soldiers wearing the current issue DPCU were clearly visible.
"The performance varies with range, vegetation and light conditions, however the initial data indicates that soldiers in the new DPCU were more difficult to see in almost all situations.
"Land 125 was involved in the trial because it is planned to apply this technology to the new load carriage equipment being acquired for the infantry battalions such as chest webbing and large field packs.
"For trial purposes, the signature managed camouflage pattern was applied to the current in-service DPCUs, however, once proven, this type of technology could be applied to a range of in-service clothing and equipment."
Maj Shaw said the trial needed to be conducted at short notice and thanked members of 2RAR and staff at the TFTA and the Jungle Training Wing at Tully for their efforts under significant pressure.