Are Digital Pixel Camouflage Patterns Ineffective?
By Guy Cramer, President/CEO of Hyperstealth Corp.

US4CES Transitional Pattern

Photo used with permission ©2012 ADS Inc.

(Vancouver, B.C. July 5, 2012) In the last week a series of high profile News stories have been released which have raised a number of questions regarding the use of Pixels in Camouflage patterns.

The current Phase IV U.S. Army Camouflage Improvement Effort was mandated by the U.S. Congress when research on their current UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) showed that it was ineffective in almost all environments tested. It turns out that field trials were never carried out on UCP before it was issued.

The idea that one camouflage could work in all environments has also been shown in U.S. Army testing to be false. UCP was meant to be that camouflage but Multicam which won the U.S. Army's Phase III program to replace UCP in Afghanistan was also shown to be less effective over all terrains within the 2010 U.S. Army Natick testing for Phase III; Multicam did very well in Rocky Desert and Mountainous Terrain which are the primary environments found in Afghanistan, however, Multicam did not place in the top ten patterns for either Cropland/Woodland and faired even worse for Sandy Desert Terrain. There were a total of 17 patterns tested.

"Digital Pixel patterns are Ineffective!" Wrong

A number of news organizations have taken the failure of UCP to mean that all Pixelated patterns are not effective and a big waist of money. This poor reporting has caused Singapore (and undoubtedly other militaries) to question their recent change to Pixel patterns. 

Which patterns won the 2010 Natick Cropland/Woodland tests?

1st Place Woodland Digital (pixelated) 
2nd Place U.S. Navy AOR-2 (pixelated)
3rd Place USMC Woodland MARPAT Digital (pixelated)

Which patterns won the 2010 Natick Sandy Desert Terrain tests?

1st Place DCU Digital (pixelated)
2nd Place U.S. Navy AOR-2 (pixelated)
3rd Place Desert Brush
4th Place USMC Desert MARPAT (pixelated)

Which patterns won the 2010 Natick Rocky Desert testing?

1st Place Multicam
2nd Place USMC Woodland MARPAT Digital (pixelated)
3rd Place Woodland Digital (pixelated) 

Which patterns won the 2010 Natick Mountainous Terrain testing?

1st Place Tie  Multicam and U.S. Navy AOR-Universal (pixelated) both tested equal
2nd Place Woodland Scorpion
3rd Place U.S. Navy AOR-2 (pixelated)

What we see it that pixelated patterns dominate the top place finishers in all environments.   

USS4CES Transitional and Arid Patterns

Photo used with permission ©2012 ADS Inc.

The US4CES family of camouflage submission I made with ADS Inc. is the only digital pixelated pattern to be down selected for Phase IV field trials expected to begin in the next few days and last for about 3-4 months.

Phase III was to find a solution for Afghanistan and not a worldwide solution, Phase III was also mandated by the U.S. Congress.

Multicam has 7 colors and given that the pixelated patterns all have only 4 or 3 colors one would expect that Multicam would have a large advantage in blending across these varied backgrounds. Each extra color adds cost to printing so do the three or four extra colors in Multicam provide the advantage to justify the higher production cost?

"Army to Recommend MultiCam for Entire Force" FALSE recently reported "After years of testing, Army uniform officials are planning to recommend that MultiCam should replace today's pixilated design as the official camouflage pattern the service issues to all soldiers, has learned."...

"One option would be to make MultiCam the Army's official camouflage pattern, sources tell

The second option would be to make MultiCam the service's pattern for garrison and general deployment use, but also to have a family of approved camouflage patterns that could be issued for specific areas of the world.

Earlier this week, UCP came under fire again in a story by The Daily, an online news site, which quoted several Army scientists from Natick Soldier Systems Center, Mass., alleging that the Army selected UCP long before testing was complete."

US4CES Transitional Pattern with US4CES OCIE/PPE Gear coloration

Photo used with permission ©2012 ADS Inc.

Given that Phase IV Field Trials are just beginning within the next few weeks, if true these, two options follow the same mistake that the Army made with UCP "the Army selected UCP long before testing was complete."

Even without Phase IV testing, we can see from Previous U.S. Army Natick testing that Multicam does not provide an adequate solution for either Cropland/Woodland or Sandy Desert Terrains.  

In 2010 the Army began Phase IV Camouflage testing using a series of experiments to down select from about 20 industry submissions, with each submission consisting of a family of camouflage sharing a similar geometry but recolored to work in three separate environments (Tropical/Woodland, Desert/Arid and Transitional) to allow the Army to operate in different terrains around the world. This initial testing concluded in January to four commercial finalists who have all been asked for Field Trial Uniforms and gear to compete against three baseline patterns AOR-1 for Desert/Arid, Multicam for Transitional and AOR-2 for Tropical/Woodland.  

Commercial finalists currently undergoing field trials include

ADS Inc as Prime, partnered with Guy Cramer
Brookwood Companies
Crye Precision

I have since been informed that these comments from "Uniform Officials" are either in error or were taken out of context, I was told that the Army will continue with Field Trials and report the findings to Army leaders before any decision is made based on the winner which will be based on the field tests and one final Photo Simulation Perception Study based on photos of the actual uniforms .

US4CES Arid Pattern with US4CES OCIE/PPE Gear coloration

Photo used with permission ©2012 ADS Inc.

Is Multicam unbeatable?

Our internal objective tests based off of previous U.S. Military testing techniques showed that our US4CES Transitional pattern exceed the U.S. Navy’s AOR-2 pattern by 19.86% and OEF/OCP (MultiCam®) by 26.71% within transitional environments. See

We know we exceeded the Arid/Desert baseline AOR-1 in Natick simulation studies with our US4CES Arid and statically equaled AOR-1 with our US4CES Woodland.

The reason for field trials are to see if the real world corresponds to the simulation results, many different factors can only be determined with field trials.

Why not just go with MARPAT?

The baseline patterns AOR-1 and AOR-2 are the same pattern as MARPAT with slightly different colors which both tested better than MARPAT Woodland and MARPAT Desert in those respective environments. The winner of Phase IV is expected to exceed the baseline patterns to provide the most effective family of camouflage to the U.S. Army.

Our US4CES pattern is designed to disrupt at tactical combat distances which MARPAT, CADPAT, AOR-1, AOR-2 fall victim to a problem called isoluminance which the four colors blend into one color due to the tight proximity of the pattern. Both the Micropattern - pixels and Macropattern are larger in US4CES and the pattern has been developed to disrupt both the human shape and mask movement.  

US4CES Woodland Pattern (Left), CADPAT (Right)

CADPAT (Canadian Pattern) was issued in 1996 the USMC asked and recieved permission to use the same pattern for MARPAT which was issued in 2001. The U.S. Army used a three color version for UCP in 2004, The Navy recolored MARPAT for AOR-1, AOR-2 and AOR-Universal in 2011. As you can see US4CES is not a the same pattern or configuration to CADPAT/MARPAT it is designed to be better.

Universal Camouflage Pattern was not a pattern design flaw but a coloration issue, UCP is a three color version of MARPAT, AOR-1, AOR-2 which have shown to be very effective. Digital works because it breaks up straight lines while also creating background noise and allows for colors to mix leading to a more natural effect at proper viewing distances. 

What a waste of money!

We can't dwell on things that we can't change but the Army can look ahead. The Army thought of licensing this differently than they have in the past, the winning submission would be awarded a fixed one time payment to license the family to the Army, as the Army requested each finalist to specify an amount, they are different for each company and will only be awarded to the winning company.

ADS Inc as Prime, partnered with Guy Cramer
Brookwood Companies

Crye Precision

Given the F-35 fighter jet will cost over $112 Million dollars per aircraft to produce and the entire F-35 program is estimated to cost $323 Billion Dollars once all the required aircraft are produced, the U.S. Army cannot be faulted on this program regarding cost to protect their soldiers on the ground.



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