Camo netting has been in use by the military for decades. It has proved so valuable on the battlefield and in manuevers that civilians now also use it frequently, too, and particularly hunters and anyone looking to minimize their visibility out in the woods, snow, jungle, or desert. There’s camo netting for deserts, camo netting for duck hunting, and even camo netting for winter use, all of which are popular and useful for the modern hunter.
But despite the fact that this type of camouflage is in such constant use that it is almost taken for granted, the military and camouflage experts are still constantly working to improve it. Those improvements will protect America’s military personnel and will trickle down to provide innovation even to the hunter.
What Need Are There in Camo Design?
One of the biggest needs in modern camouflage netting is to develop a concealment system with all the benefits that netting currently provides, but with more flexibility. In other words, something that can work as woodland camo netting, desert coverage, or jungle protection just as the user might require. It needs to be flexible, light-weight, and impenetrable by sensor tech.
The newest innovations in netting are coming from the US military, and the Army in particular. The newest prototype in the works is the Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage Net System, or ULCANS. In theory, it will weigh practically nothing, work in all weather conditions, and offer protection in woodland, desert, alpine, or jungle settings with equal ease and only a few different designs. The idea is to replace the netting that has been used since the 1990s with new color schemes that will provide better protection not only from sight, but also from sophisticated sensor equipment.
The United States Army has been planning this for some time and is now in the midst of a six-month competition designed to find just the right camo netting. Development contracts will be awarded to the manufacturer who fulfills all the needed requirements. By the middle of 2019, a winner will be chosen and the first units will be outfitted with the newest state-of-the-art camo netting.
The competition is currently pitting three global camouflage leaders against one another in the bid to create the perfect sensor-defeating camouflage netting. The nets have been designed but can be adjusted and tweaked at any time during the competition. They are currently competing head-to-head in a variety of settings against all kinds of unique sensors deliberately targeted directly at them.
These advanced tests are being overseen not only by the military itself, with an awareness of what they need in camouflage netting, but also in conjunction with scientists who are helping to design unique testing events that stretch the boundaries of the camouflage and determine what is needed for perfect functioning in the military environment. The US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center is currently at the heart of this testing and development of the next generation of camouflage netting.
The major goals in mind for prototype camo netting is to provide protection from the state-of-the-art sensor technology coming out of China and Russia. These sensors and the ability of these states to penetrate current camouflage is creating access denial problems that the US military cannot afford to ignore. It is absolutely crucial that the Army be able to limit the ability of enemies to detect weapons, vehicles, and particularly personnel as well as reduce battlefield signatures across the board.
The stakes are high in the developments of the next generation of camouflage netting, but the determination and expertise of the US military, some of the finest scientific minds of the country, and the manufacturers who specialize in advanced camouflage are ensuring that our soldiers and military equipment will stay safe in years to come, despite advancements in sensor technology.