The power of concealment

From humble beginnings 60 years ago, Saab’s Barracuda camouflage systems have grown to form a comprehensive range of solutions for vehicles, facilities, and individuals.

Having the ability to conceal armed forces in the field provides major tactical advantages. As well keeping troops and assets safe from attack by the enemy, concealment allows them to draw close enough to launch their own highly effective attacks.Saab understands this and provides an extensive selection of camouflage solutions through its Barracuda range. Far more than just camouflage nets, the range includes everything from camouflage suits for individuals, mobile camouflage solutions for vehicles, and complete solutions to protect static camps from enemy detection.

Niklas Ålund, Director of Strategy and Business Development for Saab’s Business Unit Barracuda explains that the Barracuda range was born in Sweden in the 1950s when synthetic fishing nets were adapted to create highly effective camouflage nets. As new methods of detecting assets – such as radar and thermal detection – were developed over the following decades, Barracuda rapidly evolved to keep pace.

Today’s Barracuda solutions offer protection from ultra-violet, visual, near infrared and thermal sensors as well as radar. In-built thermal radiation protection, meanwhile, can reduce the operating temperature inside vehicles, increasing crew comfort, firing accuracy, and fuel efficiency.

Tactical advantage

At the heart of the Barracuda range are an array of industry leading pigments, textiles, and coatings that are constantly being updated, improving capabilities. Johan Jersblad, a Senior Development Engineer with Barracuda explains this approach can provide users with real tactical advantages.

“Barracuda solutions decrease your probability of detection, giving you more time to act. Some customers have discovered that tanks using Barracuda solutions can afford to fire twice rather than just once before moving, as it’s so hard for the enemy to locate their position.”

Ålund says the current Barracuda range can be divided into three categories: platform, soldier, and force.

Platform solutions are designed for use on variety of vehicles and equipment. They include the Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) which protects vehicles as they manoeuvre, and the Ultra Lightweight Camouflage System (UCLAS) which can be quickly erected during rest stops. Soldier solutions are designed for individuals and offer protection against visual, near infrared, and thermal signal detection. The Special Operations Tactical Suit (SOTACS) allows soldiers to enter offensive tactical positions undetected. Force solutions, meanwhile, allow the concealment of entire camps through the use of multispectral protection.

From snow to desert

Jersblad explains that there are Barracuda solutions for all conditions. “We can make a uniform or mobile camouflage system for any environment in the world,” he says. “We change pigmentation and the properties of the material to make it blend into its surroundings, from snow to desert.” Armed forces using Barracuda products include the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Italy, and Australia.

New methods of detection are constantly emerging, including the increased prevalence of near-flying drones and the use of hyperspectral and short wave infrared sensors. Barracuda is evolving to address these as well as the threats of the future.

“We’re working towards using nanotechnology and this will enhance the performance and user-friendliness of our products,” says Jersblad. “They will be even stronger, lighter and have better camouflage performance. It’s a really exciting area.”