By Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics
The U.S. Army has outfitted four armored vehicles with a new camouflage system designed to make them more difficult to detect. The new Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) is supposed to be an effective countermeasure against a variety of sensors, from eyeballs to radars.
MCS uses panels of fabric pre-cut for specific types of armored vehicles—in this case, four Stryker interim armored vehicles from the Germany-based 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Manufacturer Saab Barracuda claims that the camouflage system is useful in the “visual, near-infrared, thermal infrared and broadband radar wavelengths”.
MCS isn’t meant to allow a vehicle to perfectly blend in with its surroundings, but rather give vehicle crews a “few extra seconds of decision space” against enemy vehicles, allowing them to act first (and shoot first) while the enemy is still trying to figure out what it is looking at.
Here’s a promo video put out by Saab:
Traditional camouflage systems may conceal a vehicle from the human eye but leave them easy to spot elsewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum, particularly when the enemy is using radar and thermal imaging. In addition to making vehicles harder for a human to see, MCS panels distort the vehicle’s shape, making it difficult to identify with radar. MCS also reduces a vehicle’s heat signature, making it more difficult to detect with thermal infrared sensors both day and night. This is arguably the more important feature, as modern armored vehicle crews often overwatch the battlefield with thermal imagers even in daytime.
The Army is testing the MCS-equipped Strykers in wargames against other Strykers and NATO allies, and will put them through a formal evaluation in June. In the meantime, MCS will be installed on the British Army’s new Ajax armored scout vehicles.