New Digital U.S. Army Combat Uniform eliminates Black in pattern.

by Guy Cramer

The U.S. Army used the U.S. Marines digital MARPAT as a base pattern for their Army Combat Uniform (ACU) and removed black for their ACUPAT (pattern). 

Removal of Black in U.S. Army camouflage:

Black is no longer useful on the uniform because it is not a color commonly found in nature. The drawback to black is that its color immediately catches the eye” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Myhre, the Clothing and Individual Equipment noncommissioned officer in charge.

 

Lack of Black in nature - common misconception

In speaking from the experience of having designed over 200 distinct digital patterns for Government and Defense contractors since 1998, color can make or break a pattern. While Sergeant Myhre is correct in stating that black is not a natural occurring color, it is a color that the brain sees as depth. In experimenting with grays in place of black we saw a critical loss in depth of our patterns.

Look at most environments up close and there is little if any black, now look at the same environment from a distance of 100 yards and you will note that shading, shadows and distance combine to make these area look black or close to black. Take a digital picture of the same environment, open the picture as a gif and look at the palate that was created; darks and black appear as the program recognized these colors in the picture. It is not just an illusion; these are the colors the brain sees although they aren’t actually there at the source. Distance from an object and combined shadows create perceived dark zones. Now in a thick-forested area if you paint a tree trunk black and look at it from 20 feet away, it does catch your eye. Now move back 100 yards and the trunk begins to blend with the rest of them. On the RGB (Red / Green / Blue) scale anything below 30 / 30 / 30 is perceived as black from a distance

Picture on Left (below)is the original unveiling of the new ACU. Same picture on right with RGB black zones, as determined by our program, highlighted in yellow. (note the vest worn is in current Army woodland pattern with black)

I recently had the privilege to digitize the Tiger Stripe pattern for Tiger Stripe Products. Tiger Stripe has dark regions in about 50% of the pattern; this helps to trick the brain into seeing through those dark regions as it does in natural areas.

The Canadian Military came out with a new digital pixilated pattern in the 1990’s called CADPAT which brought the acclaim from NATO in field testing. The U.S. Marines followed suit a few years later with a similar digital pattern called MARPAT, just beating Tiger Stripe, which placed second in the Marines field-testing, which started with over 100 patterns.

Tiger Stripe was initially used in the jungles of Vietnam by U.S. Special Forces and is now over 30 years old and still being used. Digitizing Tiger Stripe was an obvious evolution of that pattern. If it came second to MARPAT without the digital pixels then adding them should improve the concealment factor. It worked but pixelating a pattern is still just the first generation of digital camouflage, using proprietary methods we can add an element of depth and fractals (feedback loops) within the pattern providing second and third generation digital camouflage so we have vastly improved Tiger Stripe with Tigerpat (Pictured right), currently we are prototyping with Tigerpat Enhanced and Tigerpat Pro.

In a desert setting there are not going to be a great deal of shadows so large amounts of black is not useful in this pattern color and browns are used in place of black. In urban environments, there is more shadows so some element of black should be used as one of the smaller used colors. In Forest – Temperate areas where trees are predominant multiple shading and shadows lend to black as a color that will blend the uniform as the eye interprets those areas as shadows or holes to break the silhouette of the object that we are trying to conceal.

 ACUPAT is one color scheme for Desert / Urban / Woodland. it is not going to be the best in any particular environment when competing with specifically designed patterns with color schemes for that area, it does offer the Army rapid deployment options without retrofitting personnel with extra uniforms. Eliminating the color black may have to be revisited and adding it or a dark gray into new ACUPAT is a simple change.

Guy Cramer, President, HyperStealth® Biotechnology Corp.

For more Camouflage news go to the HyperStealth® Home Page

Further information on the subject of digital Camouflage go here: Fracture Camouflage™ Frequently Asked Questions

HyperStealth® CADPAT MARPAT Camouflage Review


References:

Army gets new combat uniform http://www4.army.mil/news/article.php?story=6042

New TIGERPAT ™ Camouflage (Digital Tiger Stripe Pattern) http://www.tspcamo.com/sys-tmpl/newdigitaltigerstripe/

CONTACT INFORMATION

HyperStealth® Biotechnology Corp.

P.O. Box 21134 Maple Ridge Sq. Maple Ridge, B.C., V2X 1P7

Phone: (604) 466-7072

Email: info@hyperstealth.com 

"HyperStealth®" is a registered Trademark of HyperStealth® Biotechnology Corp. All Rights Reserved.

HyperStealth® is a registered Canadian Trademark.

CADPAT is a Trademark of the Canadian Government

MARPAT is a Trademark of the U.S. Marine Corps

ACUPAT is a Trademark of the U.S. Army

Tigerpat is a Trademark of Tiger Stripe Products                                                                                          

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This page and information © Copyright 2004,Guy Cramer, All Rights Reserved.

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