Hyperstealth’s Fractal Camo Patterns Successfully Tested For AircraftJan 09, 2006 09:54 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. uses fractal patterns to create better military camouflage designs. Canada changed military camouflage standards by issuing their proprietary “pixelated” CADPAT uniforms as a result of a DND research program. Its improved performance in NATO exercises helped smooth the adoption of the related MARPAT for the US Marines and its ACUPAT derivative for the US Army. See this Hyperstealth page, and this MARPAT-related USMC page, to understand some of the key principles behind these new designs.
Working with Lt. Col. Timothy R. O’Neill, Ph.D. (U.S. Army, Ret.), whose research work formed the basis of both CADPAT and MARPAT, Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. has entered the digital camouflage field. In 2003, the firm was commissioned by King Abdullah II to create the advanced digital KA2 camouflage pattern for Jordan’s Armed Forces, Police, Customs and Counter-Terrorism battalions. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has since extended that research into other areas, and the company has been given permission to announce that after two years of R&D, digital camouflage patterns have proven themselves applicable to weapons, vehicles, helicopters, and even jet aircraft. Better still, they claim that these patterns can be applied with little specialized training and no drawbacks over conventional camouflage.
Once the uniform portion of the program was complete using Hyperstealth’s proprietary graphics techniques known as C2G or CDEFG (Camouflage Designated Enhanced Fractal Geometry), His Majesty King Abdullah II requested a feasibility study for using Jordan’s new KA2 pattern with weapons (which otherwise tend to stand out) and then with Jordan’s military ground vehicles. HyperStealth worked with 3M Commercial Graphics division to use their vehicle wrap technology and Scotchprint(R) and ScotchCal(R) window coatings. The test was rated a success.
His Majesty then requested that the program extend the vehicle program and research application techniques for Jordan’s new S-70 Blackhawk helicopters. 3M makes special aviation material for aircraft, but the wind speeds and temperatures of certain areas can exceed the materials’ recommended limits. As such, HyperStealth purchased a large industrial machine to create the templates required to paint complex digital camouflage patterns.
On to Aircraft…
The aircraft tests were also a success, and will allow Jordan to place their KA2 patterns on the Kingdom’s F-16 fighter jets as well as vehicles and helicopters. Note, however, that the F-16 picture at the top of this article is merely a mock-up representation. As Hyperstealth’s founder noted to DID in response to our questions, the actual colors and pattern were not revealed, and could easily be different for a variety of environmental and tactical reasons.
Ground-related fractal patterns certainly have obvious advantages for low level strike aircraft like the Tornado IDS, but what about the times when an aircraft is engaged against an aerial or even an ocean background? That’s why American jets tend to use a dull grey blend effect instead, making them harder to spot at a distance against a wide variety of backgrounds.
When asked about the utility of camouflage patterns for aircraft, versus the USA’s tested uniform grey compromise, Hyperstealth President Guy Cramer replied that misdirection had its own value:
“Russia uses camouflage on their modern aircraft and they usually don’t go to any extra expense unless research has proved an advantage. So while camouflage may be used to reduce a visible signature it can also be used to deceive and confuse. Most camouflage schemes on Russian aircraft are designed to break the symmetry axis so the target is difficult to recognize and identify… [see also the painted] canopy on the underside the [Canadian] CF-18 uses under close combat conditions – it is enough to confuse the brain of the adversary to believe the CF-18 top side is facing him and will thus counter move in the wrong direction…”
A delay of even a couple of seconds in identifying the type and orientation of an enemy aircraft can indeed be decisive. The question is whether an advantage against one background type would cancel out its utility by being a disadvantage against other backgrounds.
Cramer replied by stating to DID that it is possible to create a combined fractal pattern that both blends (like the American grey) and disrupts effectively (like the Russian patterns) against a variety of viewing backgrounds. The firm would eventually get a chance to prove these assertions, applying a KA2 variant to Jordan’s F-16s.
Hyperstealth Projects: Current Status
So, exactly where do things sit right now? Hyperstealth’s release wasn’t entirely clear on a couple of points, so DID asked.
At present, up to 10 different governments have enquiries at some level or a working relationship with Hypersteath Biotechnology Group. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s KA2 uniform program is currently in full swing, and will finish its rollout across all of Jordan’s forces in 2007. Beyond that, the Kingdom had requested a complete research program before beginning to apply these techniques to any of its vehicles or aircraft. That program has just completed, but full-scale procurement is not yet underway for vehicles or aircraft. Hyperstealth’s Guy Cramer:
“…according to my connections [DID: we can't name them, but they're very good ones], the Kingdom of Jordan is really pursuing this – first on helicopters with 8 new [S-70] Blackhawk’s [sic] and 2 [MD-500] Littlebird’s. I know they are also actively looking at concealing their military and police ground vehicles…
We had to release the information on Jordan’s successful tests in this area as another large structure civilian program we are working on in the U.S. with similar technology is set to be press released shortly and the Kingdom of Jordan needed to have the credit for being the first to adequately develop this… (at substantial time and effort on their part).
The Potential for Buildings
So, what is that “large structure civilian program…”?
Hyperstealth and Lt. col. O’Neill (US Army, ret.) have been working with the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (DOI-BLM) for the past 20 months on structure concealment to avoid spoiling the view in environmentally sensitive locations. The DOI-BLM approached HyperStealth after researching military camouflage, and concluding that traditional approaches wouldn’t cut it for large structures.
Working with the agency, Cramer and O’Neill began to develop new digital fractal feedback loop designs for specific structures and locations – these examples show simulations of patterns licensed for trials under the DOI-BLM Visual Mitigation Study. DID checked into their references, and received a very positive review. Going forward, project manager John McCarty of OTAK notes:
“Given that the BLM budget was not developed to fund new research, we have had an energy company, Williams Production step up to the plate to fund field testing of the sample patterns developed by Guy and Tim. We are still in the process in developing the program to conduct the field testing. The images of the compressors are part of Williams’ facilities located along Interstate 70 in Western Colorado.”
Hyperstealth also informs DID that they recently signed a US deal to perform these disappearing acts on unsightly cellular relay towers.
As readers can see, however, the potential for application to military and critical infrastructure facilities is obvious. Making visual identification more difficult from a distance is an important first step that can bring a number of benefits, and Guy Cramer has claimed to DID that entire installations could be camouflaged for concealment using these techniques:
“The object of the simulation [shown to DID] is to show with the proper pattern you can hide large objects – this technology has been around for a long time, just ask SAAB Barracuda, who have done allot [sic] of work in this area of concealment.
You’ll understand that there is information which we cannot disclose and in some cases we will not confirm or deny our involvement in prior, current or planned future government programs.”
As Guy Cramer has noted, other firms like Saab Barracuda AB have indeed done extremely advanced work with multi-spectral camouflage. Using C2G or related approaches to design fractal patterns that enhance these benefits has obvious utility.
HyperStealth can now create pattern templates for an aircraft, ship, vehicle, large and small weapons, or even buildings – and they are now refining special techniques to simulate 4+ color camouflages out of only two colors in order to reduce prep time, paint and labor.
At present, Hyperstealth has told DID that a digital camouflage pattern can be applied to any vehicle in approximately 12 man-hours without requiring a lot of specialized training, and that the resulting patterns are durable.
This new ability of HyperStealth to conceal large and small objects with both the 3M Vinyl application or in-house templates for complex pattern paint application, and their access to some of Guy Cramer’s and Timothy R. O’Neill’s 1,000+ copyright protected digital camouflage patterns, has attracted the attention of a number of commercial applications, as well as a few countries looking for military advantage. With various NATO member-states anxious about their upcoming ISAF Afghanistan deployments, there may be a good opportunity for fast experimentation that could pay combat dividends.
Hyperstealth won’t be the only ones in this field, however, and digital camouflage patterns are a trend you’re likely to see more and more of in the coming years.
- Military.com Kit Up! (March 9/10) – China Going Digital — Camo That Is…
- Singapore MINDEF, cyberpioneer (Oct 30/08) – Taking cover in the new SAF combat uniform. Uses the same principles. The move toward fractal patterns in new military uniforms continues to pick up momentum.
- DID (March 25/08) – “Digital Thunder” Camo for Slovakia’s MiG-29s. Designed by the same O’Neill/ Hyperstealth team.
- DID (June 14/06) – Jordan Adopts Fractal Vehicle Camouflage. The vehicles, ranging from tanks to jeeps, were displayed at a major military parade in Amman, Jordan.
- DID (April 3/06) – British Subs Debunk Conventional Fashion: Is Blue the New Black? The conventional black may be the worst color to conceal submarines. The British are trying a different look, and meanwhile HyperStealth continues to expand its design work for vehicle and ship camo.
- DID (March 21/06) – Fractal Creep: New Digitized Camo Uniforms for USAF, USN, Jordan. Hyperstealth’s patterns have entered service with several branches of Jordan’s army & paramilitary forces; meanwhile, the USN jumps in with a MARPAT-based patterns and the USAF goes with a pixilated Tiger Stripe pattern.
- DID (Feb 13/06) – US Exercises $97.7M in Options for ACUPAT Coats & Trousers. We have some pictures of the ACUPAT design and the new field uniform, which has been redesigned. ACUPAT is designed to operate in a wide variety of environments, which means it won’t excel in any of them.
- A Russian news article in Lenta.RU takes notice of this article.