Author:Machi, Vivienne
Position::SOCOM'S TOP 10

Today's special operators must prepare for combat situations around the globe and against adversaries with increasingly sophisticated technology. Special Operations Command is working to provide commandos with products that help to reduce signature footprints through camouflage, signal reduction and other means, while remaining cost-effective and lightweight.

A 2018 SOCOM report, "Science and Technology - Preparing for the Future 2020-2030: Signature Management," identifies several possible issues that operators may encounter.

"Consider the notional mission for a small group to insert into hostile territory from the sea, cross overland, strike a target and extract by air to a friendly location, all within one cycle of darkness," the report said.

Special Operations Command is seeking industry's solutions for: transporting vessels and individual operators while undetected by radio frequencies, electro-optical/infrared, and acoustic or magnetic sensors or mines; transitioning from sea to land spaces, where different thermal signatures could increase probability of IR detection; and minimizing detection at longer ranges for individuals, communication signals, or physical equipment.

The report noted that in some instances, operators must accept "an undesirable level of risk" that they will be detected and the mission could be compromised.

"For this reason, any new technologies that allow the warfighter to avoid threats, skip mission steps, or reduce the likelihood of detection are of interest to SOCOM," it said.

Saab Barracuda, a subsidiary of Saab Defense and Security USA that focuses on signature management, has long been developing multi-spectral camouflage nets that provide commandos with a secure cover while resting or holding in place.

The company, which is based in Lillington, North Carolina, is now offering U.S. forces a mobile camouflage system that fits directly onto vehicles to help prevent detection across the electromagnetic spectrum, said Kevin Dunham, director of business development for Saab Barracuda.

Once installed, the cover helps to mitigate visual, near-infrared, short-wave infrared, thermal infrared and radar signatures, and can be customized for any vehicle with colors and patterns to adapt to a variety of theaters, he added.

"It fits perfectly to the vehicle like you're putting on a suit, but it doesn't interfere" with any of the systems or features, he said. Users can also add a multispectral solar shading system that...

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