Types of Digital Camouflage
Digital Camo BDU Patterns
Traditional camouflage patterns were designed to mimic various landscapes and terrain, and relied heavily on brain perception to avoid detection. With the advent of high resolution digital surveillance, it became necessary to develop a camouflage pattern capable of avoiding the “eye in the sky.” Digital camouflage was designed for the U.S. Military to avoid detection by both the human eye and advanced digital surveillance. Digital camo battle dress uniform (BDU) designs are comprised of computer generated pixilated patterns of overlapping squares using traditional color schemes, with black having been omitted from the color pallet. Each branch of service has it’s own variation of pattern and color entirely dependent on use.
The US military currently employs two primary patterns for digital camo BDUs - woodland and desert. Woodland patterns blend shades of green, brown and tan and are designed for use in wooded areas. Woodland camos are also worn stateside for non-combat related purposes. Desert digital camo BDUs blend shades of tan and brown and are issued to soldiers deployed in desert areas. A digital snow pattern consisting of white and shades of gray has also been developed for use in cold weather training.
The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MARPAT) was the first digital pattern developed for US Armed Forces. It comes in two variations- desert and woodland. MARPAT patterns are created using highly complex fractal equations that produce non-repeating patterns designed to match the visual texture of background environments. Both patterns are comprised of three colors, with a repeating Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem.
The United States Army uses two digital camouflage patterns. The Army Combat Uniform Pattern (ACUPAT) is a modified version of the Urban Track pattern, developed for deployed US Army units in Afghanistan. ACUPAT comes in three distinct color schemes- Urban Gray, Desert Sand and Foliage Green. ACUPAT is currently being phased out. The MultiCam, or “Scorpion Camo,” is a 7-color, multi-environment pattern currently in the test phase for the Army. The MultiCam uniform was designed for the Army Future Force Warrior program and is also being used by AFSOC and SOCOM members. MultiCam designs and color schemes are meant to provide concealment in desert, woodland, savanna and tropical terrains.
The United States Air Force uses both the MultiCam pattern and the Airman Battle Uniform (ABU). The ABU is a digital version of the tiger stripe pattern, pixilated on a tan, gray and green or slate blue tiger stripe pattern. Because the ABU is not a combat-ready tactical pattern, Special Operations Command units and Air Force ground units deployed to Afghanistan use the MultiCam pattern.
The Navy Working Uniform (NWU) features four pattern variations based on the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MARPAT.) The original blue-grey pattern is used primarily for sailors aboard ship. The colors were chosen to both reflect the Navy’s heritage and to match the paint colors most commonly used aboard Navy ship vessels. The NWU II is a four color digital desert pattern with the anchor, Constitution and eagle logo embedded in the print. It is worn by Naval Special Warfare Command and Naval Expeditionary Combat Command sailors. A 3-color Desert pattern is issued to other sailors in desert environments. The NWU Type III is a 4-color digital woodland pattern issued for use stateside and in non-desert environments.