The DoD Is Searching For A Combat "Stealth" Uniform For Troops

The Department of Defense (DoD) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program, in conjunction with the United States Army, has recognized a critical technology gap in the modern battlefield that could temporarily leave soldiers vulnerable to direct enemy fire.

The DOD SBIR/STTR Program’s new objective has been to elicit innovative solutions from academic institutions and small businesses to develop the next generation of combat uniforms for Army personnel that can reduce their signature and decrease detection from ground surveillance radar (GSR) threats in the modern battlefield.

Battlefield and ground surveillance radar (BSR/GSR) has become an essential component of electronic warfare and detection capabilities on the 21st-century battlefield, which makes it extremely challenging for soldiers to run for cover.

It seems as the DoD is falling behind on developing radar-invisible uniforms. In 2016, Russia announced that its scientists had developed a new fabric that would make its troops harder to detect via electronic warfare systems.

Mine-protected Boots, Stealth Fabric in Russian Future Soldier Gear. (Source: World Defense Forum) 

That is why the DoD is now frantically searching for radar absorbent textile for its combat uniforms, as it has recognized that its arch-nemesis, Russia, is leading the way in pioneering stealth fabric.

“Radar absorbing and shielding technology has attracted a growing interest due to the recent advances in enemy electronic warfare and detection capabilities, leaving U.S. forces, especially infantry forces, vulnerable to detection across the electromagnetic spectrum,” according to a new SBIR and STTR solicitation to academia and private industry. “Advanced Battlefield and Ground surveillance radar (BSR/GSR) are readily available in military markets that are highly effective, portable, and automated for large area monitoring.”

Here is a basic example of the battlefield and ground surveillance radar (BSR/GSR) used for detecting tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and personnel. The device can detect troops or combat vehicles from miles away. This is an inexpensive and readily available device for militaries around the world.

While radar absorbing material (RAM) composites exist for a wide variety of air and land-based military vehicles, the DoD points out, “there are currently no effective and lightweight wearable options to mitigate GSR detection of a dismounted Soldier.” The emphasis of this call is to focus on soldier signature management “by altering/functionalizing clothing with radar absorbing materials” to thwart detection from BSR/GSR systems.

The Army’s specifications on the stealth fabric, include absorption of radar waves in the Ku- and X-frequency bands at distance up to 12 kilometers and “the fabric must be flexible, durable and breathable” to operate from -30 degrees to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Prototypes must demonstrate lab and field based capabilities within the X and Ku frequency bands at distances up to 12 km. Prototypes will range from a standardized 1 m2 test sample to representative operational clothing and/or operational equipment (e.g. body armor carrier, rucksack, etc.). The performance of the test samples and prototypes must be evaluated in laboratory and field settings and assessed in terms of radar cross section reduction, flexibility, durability, breathability and air permeability. The prototype materials must be tested and clearly demonstrate consistent functional properties under simulated operational use to include environmental factors such as a wide range of temperatures (-30 – 125ºF) and environmental factors (e.g. high humidity, rain, etc.) The final deliverable must also include a commercialization assessment and the viability of mass producing the developed technology.”  

It is highly unusual for the DoD to publicize such a significant vulnerability gap in America’s military, but it seems as the Army is falling behind the curve on stealth combat uniforms. Meanwhile, as we mentioned above, Russia claimed to have developed stealth fabric some two years ago. While President Trump awarded the Pentagon the largest budget in history, let’s hope stealth combat uniforms come soon, otherwise, America’s military edge could be obsolete on the modern battlefield.

Comments

Eisenhorn ZENDOG Wed, 05/16/2018 - 15:49 Permalink

CLEARLY American soldiers don't stand a chance without high tech....

On June 17, 2010, Marine Cpl. Clifford Wooldridge was in a convoy when their vehicles came under heavy enemy fire from a group of Taliban fighters in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Spotting a group of 15 fighters, Wooldridge and his men dismounted and moved across open ground to flank the enemy, killing or wounding eight and forcing the remainder to scatter. Following the gunbattle, Wooldridge remained behind to cover his team’s withdrawal, but heard voices from behind an adjacent mud wall. Rushing around the corner, he came face-to-face with two enemy fighters, and opened fire at point blank range, killing both with his M249 SAW.

According to Wooldridge’s Navy Cross award citation, as he moved back behind the wall to reload, he spotted the barrel of an enemy machine gun poking around the corner. Without hesitating, Wooldridge dropped his empty weapon and seized the barrel of the enemy fighter’s machine gun. As the two grappled in hand-to-hand combat, the Taliban fighter reached for a grenade attached to Wooldridge’s flak jacket, intending to pull the pin and kill them both. Overpowering his attacker, Wooldridge took hold of the enemy’s weapon and then beat the man to death with it.

After taking out a house full of insurgents with his SAW, this soldier stopped the last fighter with his knife.

On Nov. 10, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia and his platoon were ordered to clear a block where insurgents were firing at American forces. As they entered the tenth house, a firefight broke out, and Bellavia was trapped inside with four other soldiers. According to his Silver Star citation, Bellavia, armed with a M249 SAW, entered the room where the insurgents were gathered and sprayed it with gunfire, forcing them to take cover and allowing Bellavia and his men to withdraw into the street.

Alone, Bellavia went back inside the house to clear it. As he entered, he shot an insurgent who was loading an RPG, and wounded another, before taking cover in a bedroom, but he was followed by the wounded fighter, who Bellavia shot and killed. A third enemy fighter began shooting from upstairs, and after a brief but fierce gunbattle, Bellavia killed him too. As Bellavia crossed to another room, a fourth insurgent emerged from a closet. Bellavia shot and wounded him as well, but the man ran past him and up the stairs.

Bellavia tracked the man through the house by following his bloody footprints, and encountered a fifth fighter, who he routed by throwing a fragmentation grenade. He then came upon a room stocked with propane tanks and explosives, where Bellavia encountered the wounded fighter from downstairs. Knowing he couldn’t fire his weapon for fear of setting off an explosion the two engaged in hand to hand combat, which ended with Bellavia slitting the man’s throat with a knife

 

 

In reply to by ZENDOG

Trogdor ZENDOG Wed, 05/16/2018 - 20:26 Permalink

Actually, most of the "high-tech" stuff just gets in the way with the exception of really good radios and hearing/eye protection/enhancement. 

I have a friend who works for a "defense contractor" - he said they were developing these really "rad" HUDs for infantry helmets .... but unlike the Generals who all thought it was SO COOL, the guys on the ground ripped them off their helmets after a few days of testing because they were so freakin' distracting.  Anything that enhances what nature gave you or makes you more comfortable is good - most of the rest of it is very expensive crap.

I'd like to see someone wear that Russian Super-Suit in the desert.  I still have nightmares about MOPP4 gear in the 120+ degree heat ...

In reply to by ZENDOG

Eisenhorn Trogdor Thu, 05/17/2018 - 13:12 Permalink

THIS 100%.  And yes, MOP gear in heat was BRUTAL.  People don't realize that, for the most part, all that high tech shit goes out the window when the bullets start flying and its down to good ol'fashioned fire-and-manuever.

 

The high tech stuff is focused heavily on figuring out where the bad guys are, how many of them there are, and what they are doing.

 

Outside of air support, most fights are gun to gun, and we are just better at coordinating in combat than the native tribes.

In reply to by Trogdor

TheGardener BennyBoy Wed, 05/16/2018 - 14:24 Permalink

"seems as the Army is falling behind the curve on stealth combat uniforms"

Not. Civilians are the ones falling behind. Like the only legitimate weapons holders as in a militia army. Thermal detection makes traditional partisan self defence a challenge of sorts.

Before such technology an ex operator in his well known hunting grounds could not be apprehended and take out most of his enemies. Suburban advantage is not what it used to be. Modern battlefields none the less. If I had kids to fight in those upcoming wars I`d train them on knife and electronic action.

 

P.S. A free citizen is one who has a right to bear arms.  If your government restricts those basic rights forming our civilisation since the days of the Roman Empire and many before, you know where they stand on the freedom scale.

If only their were universal gun laws and restrictions to access thereof proposed I might have been tricked : excluding persons and groups known for using guns for murderous criminality from handling/ownership.

But that would ban all government thugs from ever getting near any arms, as their history of abuse proves them unfit to ever holding one forever.

 

 

 

In reply to by BennyBoy

any_mouse chrsn Wed, 05/16/2018 - 14:24 Permalink

Technically, currently there are not any "battlefields".

There are "areas of operation".

No longer soldiers, they are "operators".

Enemy combatants are "terrorists" and those who support "terror". A MSF hospital is a legitimate target.

Terrorists are usually indigenous people who object to being robbed of resources and pushed out of their homes by the usual suspects.

Another enemy is a state leader who does not go along with the plan for global dominance. Not having a Central Bank is a crime against Humanity. Not using Petrodollars is an act of war.

The military is there to protect the system here. I meant "Our Freedom".

In reply to by chrsn