Saab Barracuda has long been a world leader in terms of innovation and technology development in the field of camouflage. The company’s products are used in more than fifty countries around the world to conceal people, vehicles, ships and other equipment in the visual, near infrared, thermal and radar ranges.
“We are so much associated with concealment and quality that the Barracuda blanket has become an international term for camouflage nets,” says Maria Nilsson, research and development manager at Saab Barracuda.
The foundations of the company were laid in the 1950s by making use of existing fishing net production. 60 years on Saab Barracuda is a synonym for the groundbreaking development and production of signature management equipment. The company is behind specially adapted suits and nets which are provided with a number of different characteristics. Customers often require clear specifications in which the camouflage technology, for example, must be robust, thermal, water-repellent and must be able to reduce the radar signature of the protected object.
“Several of our products are completely unique, with characteristics that no or few competitors can match,” says Nilsson.
Customer requirements determine development
Remaining at the cutting edge is in the DNA of Saab Barracuda, as is constantly increasing its understanding of what the future threat to customers will look like.
“What sort of missions do customers have? Where will they be operating? What threat sensors will they encounter? Each environment has its own requirement in terms of signatures and also properties such as robustness, flame retardancy and water repellency which are requested by customers,” says Nilsson.
John Jersblad, PhD and senior development engineer at Saab Barracuda, adds:
“It’s not only a matter of how to hide yourself and blend into the background, but rather about how to gain time over your opponent and be the one who acts first. Vehicles and people are high value resources meriting protection in today’s conflicts. This is one of the reasons why we are supplying more mobile camouflage systems.”
The mobile camouflage system (MCS) also creates a better working environment for the crew and equipment. It deceives the enemy’s sensor system and the algorithms which control target-seeking warheads in different types of intelligent weapons systems.
“Our systems can provide shielding against solar radiation and help to reduce the temperature inside the vehicles. We are focusing on these kinds of characteristics in order to remain one step ahead of our competitors,” explains Nilsson.
Developing equipment and coatings with appropriate properties across large parts of the electromagnetic spectrum is one of Saab Barracuda’s core competencies. The department has several chemists who are developing the special paint systems and materials which are used in the products.
Inbuilt engineering pride drives progress
In addition to developing tailor-made special solutions which need to be capable of camouflaging everything from soldiers and small tents to large hangars, Saab Barracuda also undertakes rigorous laboratory and field measurements on everything that is developed and manufactured.
“Since there is often a lack of international standards, we have developed some of our own measuring methods and standards. These have since been accepted by our customers and are included in their technical specifications,” explains Nilsson.
There is no risk that employees at Saab Barracuda will become complacent with the thought of the company having the status of a world leader.
“There is an inbuilt engineering pride here, we should always offer the best protection – because that’s just what our customers require of us. We have competitors who copy most of what we do. So we have to hone our skills further all the time,” concludes Jersblad.